THESE UMPIRES STINK
Umpires are kind of like offensive linemen in football. If they do their job correctly, no one knows their name. They make a mistake, they make headlines. This entire postseason has been a disaster for the men in blue. Guys like Joe West, Phil Cuzzi and C.B. Bucknor have brought a lot of unwanted attention to the officials of Major League Baseball. Virtually every playoff game this October has been marred by a bad call or two. It has been so obvious that MLB has revised the roster of umps for the upcoming World Series. Every year they try to integrate new blood into the lineup, but the officiating has been so poor that they will go with veterans to try to minimize the mistakes. I recently read an interesting column pointing out the number of injuries and illnesses that have afflicted the ranks of the umpires, forcing them to use the likes of Bucknor. Here is a partial list from a column written by Dan Lamothe. Lamothe credits Fox Sports. Although MLB won’t discuss the nature of injuries or illnesses, Fox uncovered this roster of the fallen. John Hirschbeck (testicular cancer), Charlie Reliford (back), Jerry Crawford (back), Tim Welke (concussion), Ed Montague (concussion and back), Gary Darling (ankle and foot), Rick Reed (stroke), Kerwin Danley (concussion), Alfonso Marquez (back), Bill Hohn (back), Ed Hickok (concussion). 24 of the last 25 World Series have featured a first time W.S. umpire. MLB liked to reward the newer guys who have done a good job. That will not be the case this season. Crew chiefs Joe West, Dana DeMuth and Gerry Davis along with veterans Brian Gorman, Mike Everitt and Jeff Nelson get the call. In the last two Fall Classics, there had been three rookies working in each. Bucknor was scheduled to work his first World Series, but after his incompetence in the ALDS between the Red Sox and Angels, he lost out. Certainly, adding just veteran umpires doesn’t guarantee anything. Joe West, Tim McClelland and others have had rough nights too. There are times when I am inclined to think that maybe baseball needs to employ further instant replay to help with botched calls. People might argue that we didn’t use the replay years ago. We didn’t have the technology then. I’d rather have them get it right. So what if we hurt their feelings. This is, of course, not a new phenomena. I vividly remember Larry Barnett and Don Denkinger blowing calls in the 1975 World Series that hampered the Red Sox against the Reds. I guess it doesn’t really matter if they get the calls right in the World Series, especially if they go against the Yankees.