May 15, 2012; Toronto, ON, Canada; Home plate umpire Bill Miller (14) calls a strike during the Toronto Blue Jays game against the Tampa Bay Rays at the Rogers Centre. The Rays beat the Blue Jays 4-3. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-US PRESSWIRE

It's Time Umpires Are Held Acountable

 

I crave justice.

I’m sure everyone has their own opinions on the events that occured the other night. While both parties were in the wrong, only one is being held accountable publicly. If you missed the news earlier today, Brett Lawrie will receive a  slap-on-the wrist four game suspension, while Bill Miller will receive nothing… at least publicly.

This is absolutely unacceptable.

Currently stands a massive double standard within Major League Baseball. Everyone makes mistakes, yet in your job for instance, when you make a mistake over and over again, eventually your boss is going to take notice and then later, action ensues. This is no different in baseball, except players are held accountable in a very public forum–umpires are not. As a matter of fact, it seems to be some sort of umbral mystery as to whether umpires receive any sort of “punishment” at all. Angel Hernandez, CB Bucknor, and Joe West are not only some of the worst umpires when it comes to getting the call right, they are also some of the most egotistical, baneful, corrupt umpires in the game. You can now add Miller to that list.

Harsh? Possibly, I have honestly never heard of this umpire before this incident; Bill Miller has never been on my radar. Regardless of his prior actions as an umpire, this display has ruined him in the eyes of thousands. It’s not that he blew these calls, blown calls happen and while they don’t have to be a part of this game, they are. Miller blew these calls on purpose. A mere child could have made the correct call, those pitches were obviously out of the strike zone. The calls were designed to send a message and this is where umpires need to be held accountable. Miller, West, Bucknor, and Hernandez all crave the spot light, they believe they are above the game. So when Lawrie, a rookie, took a pitch in the opposite batters box and began his trot down to first, Miller took the game into his own hands. He intended to teach this rookie a lesson, so Miller waved his hand vehemently in the air, signaling a strike.

Lawrie of course angered the umpire by slowly sauntering back to the plate, obviously annoyed by the call. We’ve seen umpires react poorly to this statement by players before. Never show up the umpire, that’s the rule is it not? Joe West and Angel Hernandez are the kings of this notion. Joe West had his infamous tirade against the White Sox, atrociously calling two balk calls and tossing Mark Buehrle for dropping his glove. West claimed that Mark was showing him up, and cantankerously stood by his call. Although usually not the most acute source, the ever colorful Hawk Harrelson happened to be accurate when he had this to say:

He should be suspended,” Hawk Harrelson demanded on the WGN telecast, after West ejected Guillen. “That is a flat-out, absolute disgrace to the umpiring profession, what this guy has been doing.”

Hernandez is rather infamous for his confrontations with Julio Lugo. Whether it be asking for time out or a check swing, you can be sure Hernandez was a bully about it. Then of course you have Mike Winters, who is as far as I know the only publicly suspended umpire, who provoked Milton Bradley by spweing profanity at him because he believed Bradley had tossed a bat at his fellow umpire. This kind of behavior wouldn’t be acceptable were it coming from a player. So how is this acceptable coming from the mediators of the diamond?

What happens if Lawrie and Miller ever come face to face again? How will Miller react? How will Lawrie react? How will the Commissioners office respond if Miller ever treated Lawrie with the same amount of disrespect? These are all legitimate issues we now have to worry about because we just don’t know if Miller has even been punished.

Were any of these umpires ever held accountable? According to “one source” umpires are disciplined quite often, some are even “sat” due to poor performance. What does this matter? Have you tracked your umpiring crews recently? This information needs to be public. These characters, these “villians” need to be held on a public trail. These kind of umpires cannot be allowed to carry on the way they do, they cannot be allowed to breed others like them. By publically humilating these umpires, you not only discourage that particular umpire from ever putting himself above the game, but you also discourage others from doing the same. This “hush-hush” system does not work. If Angel Hernandez and Joe West have been “suspended” before, it certainly hasn’t stopped them from repeating their actions again. This game is full of egos, but they shouldn’t exist on the umpires side. No one is above the game, the umpires are there to officiate the game, not control it. There is no room for the likes of these kind of people.

I stand behind the punishment given to Lawrie; he was wrong and should be held accountable. As should the fan who threw beer at Miller. Lets all be adults here. My issues come from Miller receiving no public punishment whatsoever. I do not buy the argument stating that this is none of the fans business. This is our business. We invest our lives in this sport and in our team. We spend our hard earned money to attend these baseball games. In the back of our minds we believe that our team has a fair chance to winning the game. When umpires blow calls (intentionally or unintentionally) the integrity of the game has been stripped away. Fans are no longer paying to attend a fair game, fans are no longer investing themselves in a fair sport. So don’t tell me this is none of my business, because it is very much my business. If I believed my team was going to not only face the opposition every night, but the umpires as well, why would I watch? It’s time for umpires to be held publicly accountable, for the integrity of Major League Baseball.

 

Tags: Bill Miller Brett Lawrie

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