Thursday, April 27, 2006

They didn't stay quiet.

According to this lengthy and often ugly exchange on an officiating board (don't bother reading the whole thing...both sides come off looking pretty bad), the striking minor league umps--who, as you should know, I support--did what I told them not to do. At some point this morning, according to a poster in the aforementioned forum, a striking crew chief for the International League posted this statement on the AMLU's website:

The incident which occurred between Delmon Young and replacement umpire, [I'm deleting his name, which the AMLU statement used...I passionately disagree with the guy's choice to scab, but don't want him to get hurt], is unfortunate to say the least. In most of my dealings with Delmon in the past he has handled himself in a respectful, professional manner. I think the rest of the regular International League umpire staff would echo my sentiments. I can only hope this does not tarnish the career of such a fine, young prospect. Furthermore, I would speculate the whole incident could have been avoided had properly trained, professional umpires been officiating the game.

This statement was a mistake for the reasons I pointed out makes the union umps look like they're happy the replacement/scab umpire got attacked. That's not okay. Delmon Young is being rightfully pilloried in the media, and his past disgusting behavior (including bumping an AMLU umpire last season and throwing a bat within 20 feet of a pitcher) means that he is absolutely not the guy the umpires want representing their cause. The above statement essentially says "pity poor Delmon Young and the way he has to deal with substandard umpiring." This is doomed to backfire. Additionally, the position is completely unspinnable. Calling Young "respectful," "professional," and "a fine, young prospect" is simply beyond the realm of common sense when everyone in the US is looking at this video. (UPDATE: Here's a better video which includes the pitch that upset Young.)

Apparently, the AMLU had second thoughts, because between the release being posted on their website this morning (if the poster is correct) and when I visited the website this afternoon, the quote was removed. Now, they just have a copy of the AP's story, which feels totall appropriate to me.

If my hunch is right--that the AMLU decided pitying Delmon Young was the wrong call--they reached that conclusion too late, because the quote was picked up in this Baseball America story. Now, when the union umps are mentioned at all, they'll be mentioned as Delmon Young's allies. That's hardly a great PR move right now.

I can understand the AMLU's frustration--they'd like the media to make the replacement/scab umpire angle much more central to the story. (ESPN barely mentions it in all of their stories on the incident.) I share that frustration. Still, last night I figured they'd regret saying anything about this situation, and apparently they do.

I totally, totally support the strike, the union, and the strikers, and I want them to get a fair deal from the tightwad management immediately. But I think they kicked this call. They should have stayed quiet. This ill-advised press release has put them in a worse position when silence would have improved their standing.


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