Wednesday, October 21, 2009

La vie en bleu

If no one says anything, you know the umpires are doing their job.

As with any officiating, the most successful are those that go unnoticed, unheeded and forgotten as though they've never been there in the first place.

Alas, if this is the case, the MLB umpires responsible for officiating this postseason have done a pretty awful job.

It's so bad, received so much notice, that in last Sunday's New York Times, former commissioner Fay Vincent penned a column outlining the biggest problems with the current umpiring system, among them:

  • Umpires are not trained by MLB but by a separate union entirely so MLB does not have control over what umpires do and do not call.
  • Postseason appointments are not done on the basis of regular season performance as they are in football.

The outrage here isn't just that the umpires are blowing calls--blown calls are going to happen as they are part of the game--but that the blown calls haven't been particularly close. They have been relatively easy calls to make. If we, fans sitting on our couches or bar stools, can make the correct call with our own naked eyes, than shouldn't the umpires be able to do the same?

Replay on the bases would help, sure, but the calls being blown are calls that shouldn't need the aid of replay in the first place.

The teams still playing right now are the four best teams in the league, no question. They've made it this far in the postseason on the basis of solid play (for the most part, anyway); the reality that a season could be prematurely ended by a blown call is, alas, becoming a realistic possibility.