Okay, I'm going to try and keep this from being a huge rant about the Cubs getting screwed by umpires. If I come across that way, please understand that was not my intention. In point of fact, the impetus for this diary was Guillen's ejection and post-game comments last night. Phil Cuzzi, a notoriously thin-skinned umpire, tossed Guillen after Guillen had already said his piece about a disputed check swing and was heading back to the dugout. Fourtunately, the WSCR effects mic picked up the confrontation and Farmer realyed it. Cuzzi gets behind homeplate, still staring into the Sox dugout, calls time, tells Guillen, "That's enough." Guillen says, "Get back behind the plate and do your job." Cuzzi tosses him. On its face, it may seem justified, but as Ozzie commented post-game, this guy seems to have proclivity to look in the dugout. Check out this incident in 2005 NLCS. Coincidence? Perhaps...or perhaps not.
As much as this isn't a "the Cubs got screwed!" diary, neither is it a "Phil Cuzzi is an assclown" diary. Instead, I use the example(s) of Cuzzi to highlight what I see as a disturbing trend in MLB: the burgeoning intrusions of the umpires on the game.
Fans are always going to take issue with umpire, as are the players. Competition often leaves us looking for a scapegoat or a dumping ground for our frustration. Oftentimes, umpires take the brunt of that frustration. However, when an umpire takes it upon himself to directly affect the outcome of a game, without provocation, to my mind there is a problem. It seems that a certain group of umpires--Bucknor, Wolf, West, Froemming, to name a few--are determined, from the first pitch, to leave their mark on a game.
This is not baseball.
The fate of a baseball game needs to be decided by the players and managers, not by the ego of the umpire. Nor should it be decided by the fitness, or lack thereof, more appropriately, of the umpire. It's the job of an umpire to get out to the wall in Cincy and make that call. It's the job of the second base umpire to be able to move quickly enough to get position and make the SB and DP calls at second. If they can't quell their ego or put themselves in proper position, it affects the game in way that it should not.
Instant replay is not the answer here; a firm and transparent process of evaluating MLB umpires, both physically and as regards job performance is what MLB needs. I think what we see with the NFL officials is exemplary. I understand the MLB have a union and that these sorts of prescriptives would be tough to ram through in a contract negotiations, but the umpires that fight them are probably the ones that need to go anyway.
So, what say you?