Umpires and Secrecy


Maybe you’ve head of this. Maybe you haven’t. It’s when an umpire decides to become the show and not stay behind his mask. And, honestly, they need to check their egos at the door because no one paid to see them, despite what umpire Joe West thinks.

According to Keith Law, #umpshow is defined as

“Any time an umpire decides that he wants to make himself the center of attention, especially by attempting to provoke a conflict with a player or coach, it’s an umpshow. Fans don’t watch games to see the umpires ump. We watch to see the players. It would be great if the minority of umpires who think all eyes should be on them could understand that. Not to be confused with basic incompetence, where #robotumpsnow or #thehumanelement” might be more accurate.”

The problem is that any human, umpire or not, isn’t built to take criticism and endure it. Our egos as American’s won’t let us. Which is how we’ve gotten to the point we’re at. Umpires are expected to sit in the shadows and not retaliate while players mouth off about how horrible the umpire is.

This situation has only become exacerbated in recent events with the prominence of replay and HD television. Now, more than ever, players and fans know when an umpire blew a call. I’m of two minds on this. First of all, plays in real time are much harder to determine then watching in replay. Also, bad plays happen. That’s why this weak ass replay system MLB has been trumpeting won’t work. Second, that’s not the issue.

The issue is umpires and their interactions with fans and players. I am not saying umpires shouldn’t or can’t eject players, but they do seem to need to go back to school for manners. In the age of twitter and social media, they’re just as big a part of the problem. Under no circumstances should an umpire argue back or take their masks off. That’s baiting. Kind of like entrapment. But only sort of.

They should also be required to discuss particularly bad calls with the media and explain themselves. If it’s ejecting Miguel Cabrera, or missing a call, they should be required to explain themselves. The secrecy, like when someone is fired and no other employees are told, only fuels bad will and speculation.

Managers and players are expected to sit in front of a microphone and explain themselves, while the umpires are shielded. That’s partially fine. Having to explain every single call would be a bit stupid. And umpires can’t really function without anonymity. I understand that. But with Cabrera’s ejection, we have no idea what happened, just speculation and “he said, he said.” Concerned? Don’t be. There’s a simple fix. Mike the umpires. Players are miked all the time. Then you know what was said and who said what. Done.

The umpires no longer have to hide, and that requires everyone to be honest. We’ll know who said what and when. An umpire incited an incident? He’s gone. A player? Ejected.

Come on, people. The knuckle headed stuff is dragging the game down. And yeah, this is the knuckle headed stuff.


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