Sunday, April 10, 2011

The Great Ump Debate

I "woke up" this morning and checked my Twitterfeed - and it was still being flooded with vents about Mr. Davidson.  Sure, he made that horrible "Interference" call against us.  But that's not the sole reason the Jays lost the game. (What was it....18 runners left in scoring position?)

In recent years, the Great Umpire Debate seems to be getting a little bit more heated.  Instant Replay was finally instituted for home run calls.  Some fans still want more.

At a Blue Jays Fan Club Q&A last year with some alumni, players even seem to be divided on what should be done. Duane Ward said we need to have that human aspect to the game and that it'll slow the pace down way too much if everything could be debated. Pat Hentgen said it wouldn't take long to have a 5th umpire in the booth to quickly review if there's a challenge.

If it's possible, I do agree with both - though I tend to lean more towards supporting Ward's point of view.

Imagine Baseball with automated strike zones and the chance to reverse every single decision made on the field....what would being at a game be like not having the chance to have our emotions ramped up whether for the positive or the negative?  Baseball can already be perceived as a boring game - you take 9 innings and maybe a total of 1 inning could be where all the 'excitement' happens.

I will always remember being at a Jays game at the end of 2003 - Doc was thrown out by Phil Cuzzi for arguing a balk call (did he also hit a Rays batter? I can't remember). Even though the Dome was fairly empty (about 20,000), the place exploded with anger at Cuzzi.  Did Cuzzi make the right call? I don't remember. I just remember the emotions that it stirred in the Dome.

Last year was the Year of the Pitcher. No-Nos and Perfect Games galore.  Is Armando Galarraga heartbroken that his Perfect Game doesn't go into the books as one? Definitely. But it's one of the most memorable Almost Perfect Games ever.  Possibly could have been lost in the mix with all of the others.

Ultimately, I think widened instant replay would be detrimental to the game. Personally, it gets me going (in a positive way) knowing that every pitcher has to adapt to every single umpire when they're pitching.  Maybe not to the point where it's so blatantly obvious that the pitcher's getting squeezed - but it adds another aspect to the game.

But, I do think that the MLB needs to acknowledge in some way that there are umpire mistakes (or at least they are being criticized a lot more - maybe due to social media) being made and that in some other way, something should be done about it. Especially when you have an umpire like Davidson who is known for making some of the most controversial calls.

Maybe they should start off by taking Jim Joyce's lead and admitting that they're human and they make mistakes too.

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