MLB Umpires Association Might Want to Consider Picking Better Battles
Listen, I get it. There are few things in Professional Sports harder than being a Referee or Umpire. At best nobody pays any attention to you and at worst you stick out like a sore thumb.
It's a thankless job that will always piss someone off likely no matter what you do. You have to make a split second decision multiple times over the course of a game with absolutely no margin for error. It's a job most people who complain about what you do could never even attempt on your level.
It's also a largely unsympathetic plight when a baseball umpire fires back about a problem on the field.
The latest example comes from this weekend when San Diego Padres star Manny Machado flipped out after a called strike three during a game by umpire Bill Welke. Machado at first did not do anything others haven't done in the past---arguing at close range with Welke and throwing curse words left and right.
Those words got Machado tossed from the game, again, nothing that's not ever happened before. Players for decades and generations have gotten thrown out of games for arguing balls and strikes. Umpires are sometimes will to allow players to vent--some will draw lines the players should not cross.
Alas, it is not the last we're hearing about this as Machado got suspended for a game by Major League Baseball---a ruling he appealed. Which is pretty much standard as far as these kind of incidents go. But the suspension--and appeal was apparently not nearly enough for the Major League Baseball Umpires Association who vehemently objected to the suspension saying it wasn't nearly enough because Machado "Made Contact" with Welke...and "Committed Workplace Violence"??
Unfortunately we are now in the midst of dueling statements as the Umpires Social Media Post seems to have necessitated this from MLB and it's Players Union....
MLB is right. While it was not a smart move by Machado, it hardly rises to the level decried by the Umpires Union. Which unfortunately for all parties involved is a big, big problem both on a professional level and an "Image" level.
Major League Baseball has an continues to have an "Umpire" problem. By and large--most of the people on the field are the utmost professionals who have a solid working relationship with the players and coaches on the field.
Then there are guys like Angel Hernandez, long considered the single worst umpire to ever walk on a professional baseball field by every and anyone who evaluates such things. Yet he still remains employed as a Major League Umpire.
There are smaller incidents---last week's dust up between Atlanta's Josh Donaldson and Pittsburgh's Joe Musgrove was an incident where Donaldson flipped out over a high and tight pitch. Words were exchanged and some threats were made---but nothing happened outside Donaldson and Musgrove getting ejected---something that just killed the pitching starved Pirates.
The Umpire, Brian Gorman decided it was a punishable offense---Donaldson would get a mandatory one game suspension, Musgrove basically threw a handful of pitches, forcing Manager Clint Hurdle to deplete his bullpen and completely mess up the Pirates pitching staff for at least a week.
The point here is simple---rising tensions between Umpires and Players, Umpires and Fans and MLB does nobody any good. All the jabbering about having a machine call "Balls and Strikes" is stupid. Quite honestly, replay in baseball is largely stupid too. Losing 10-minutes to review a fraction of an inch judgement call/play is one easy way to speed up the pace of the game.
There was a time not long ago where it was understood Umpires were not perfect---they occasionally would make mistakes. And we understood that as they're only human. It's impossible for anyone to be 100% right, 100% of the time on plays that happen in .001 seconds. While an admirable goal---it's not physically possible.
Arguments too, they've been a part of the game for generations. Older fans remember crusty Baltimore Orioles Manager Earl Weaver who could put on a hell of a show.
Arguments and occasional mistakes have always been a part of the game, accepted and understood. Again---we all know, being an umpire is not easy and not for everyone. Though not alive when baseball began back in the 1800's---I'm guessing people argued balls and strikes back then too.
Then again, given the current world in which we live---it's about par for the course.