Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Unsolicited advice to minor league union umps

Don't say a word about the replacement/scab umps vis-a-vis the Delmon Young story today.

Not a word.

I haven't seen the play yet (I suspect I will a lot soon). And nothing--nothing--justifies what Young did. Still, I'll admit that, at first, I thought there was a possibility Young's outburst could have been avoided by more veteran crews. But it happened in the first inning, and only after Young made a prick out of himself by standing at home plate for 20 seconds after a called strike three. Only then did he chuck his bat at the umpire.

Conclusion: what we have here is a mentally ill player.

Therefore, this could have happened to any umpire.

If striking umps stay silent about the nameless home plate umpire, people will grow to realize that these are replacements on the field, and start to ask questions about their quality. Rightly or wrongly, the perception will be that the replacements don't have control on the field. (I think it's wrongly, but in this case, perception is more important than reality.)

That's what you need. But utter a word that blames the victim here (yes, the scab is the victim in this situation), and all of that potential good will is lost. Keep the lips zipped.


At 5:05 AM, Blogger John B. said...

Ya, the ballplayer seems dead wrong in this case. He should have gone and sat down, you can't argue balls and strikes, anyhow, and standing there silently for 30 seconds is tantamount to arguing verbally.

I'll bet that conversations like you heard a couple weeks ago at a game don't help the replacement umps:

UMPIRE: You guys know you have scab umpires tonight.
PLAYER: Yeah. What can we do to help you?
UMPIRE: Well, don't go crazy or anything, but if you could make it clear that you don't like the work they're doing, it'd really help.
PLAYER: Yeah. Anything we can do. Anyone who asks, we'll say we got your backs.

Not saying that the player in question here had any logical reason to throw a bat at an ump or even stand there silently for 30 seconds, but if these guys are being even overtly encouraged to "have the umps' backs" then things have the potential to get out of hand, especially with a player like this guy who the story indicates has a history of on field problems.

The whole strike thing stinks, from everyone's perspective, from what I have read (and I am far from an expert on this subject). The umps lose out, the players lose out, the replacement umps lose out, and the fans lose out.

At 5:41 PM, Blogger Blogging Ref said...


Don't forget the first part of the umpire's response: "Don't go crazy or anything." I think you're really overblowing that exchange.

Fact: Public opinion is absolutely essential to success during a strike.

Fact: Most fans aren't able to tell the difference between a good ump and a bad ump (they think all umps suck).

Fact: Minor league baseball is not at all forthcoming about the fact they're using replacement/scab umps. They're simply hoping nobody will notice.

This means that umps need the word to get out. Players' complaints will matter to fans.

What the umpire said was not at all advocating violence. I think it's irrelevant to the incident.

I do agree with your final paragraph wholeheartedly, however.


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