Quote of the Day

I lied, THIS is my last post.

Rob Neyer suckers you with that polite Midwestern charm of his, but he’s capable of firing missles when he feels the need:

One of baseball’s dirty little secrets is that umpiring is not that hard. Oh, it would be exceptionally difficult for you or me or your mailman. But thousands of men and women do good work in high school, college and minor league games, and I suspect that hundreds of them — with a bit of training and experience — could step right into the majors and perform as well, or nearly as well, as most of the current major league arbiters.

He backs down to maybe “dozens” in the next paragraph, but the point remains.

We often hear about how hard an umpire’s life and job is, and I’m sure it’s not easy. I don’t recall anyone taking Rob’s tack before, however, and I’d be curious to hear what the umps think of it.

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  1. Bob Timmermann said...

    If all these umpires can just step in and take over as an MLB umpire, why do the managers and players complain when there are fill-in umpires?

  2. Mike Mariano said...

    Dozens is much more like it.  I play college baseball now and I promise you that there is not a dearth of umpiring talent at the college or high school levels.

  3. Ron said...

    I start umpiring 30 years ago when I was 14, doing Men’s beer league softball, which oddly enough, was also the church league.

    I love small towns in the midwest.

    It’s not that hard. Just learn the rule book and call the games by it.

    The hard part is dealing with the managers. If you can handle a drunk Southern Baptist preacher who says God is on his side, you can handle LaRussa and Torre.

    Seriously, it’s not that hard.

  4. John Bee said...

    If the umpires would look closely in their mirrors…or even not so closely…they’d observe that they are not good looking, hot adonises. So, then they might give up their narcissistic thoughts and do away with the “under-the-shirt” chest protectors and go back to the old fashioned ballon. Why do I want this? Easy. So the umps can lean over the catcher and see the WHOLE PLATE AND STRIKE ZONE. The way they scrooge down between the batter and the catcher prevents them from seeing about 40-50% of the strike zone. One more suggestion…get in shape, Umps. Standing around on the base paths, picking your noses, is not conducive to a well-called game. And for Godssakes, run out toward the outfield on fly balls so you can see if the ball is trapped or caught, if it actually is a home run or not.

  5. Aaron Moreno said...

    I’m pretty sure MLB took Rob’s position a few years back, when the umpires union threatened a strike.

  6. Bob Timmermann said...

    The inside chest protector has been in use since the early 20th Century. Bill Klem developed it because he felt it allowed him to get closer to the catcher and get a better view.

  7. DGL said...

    I agree with smsetnor that there’s a certain makeup you need to be a good umpire.  I’d claim that the 250 or so minor league umpires have it.

    If you are a major league player and you suck, you get sent down to AAA and someone comes up to replace you.  If you are a major league umpire and you suck, you get heckled by the fans until you decide to retire.

  8. Jersey Matt said...

    I know I’m in the minority here, but umpiring is a lot, lot harder than it looks.  From personal experience, you make one bad call and know it – you just hope it wasn’t in the first inning.  Because after that you’ll be second guessing yourself the entire time.  The actual calls do not become the most difficult job, but rather the need to avoid the mentality of “I just don’t want to screw things up.”

  9. Matt Mitchell said...

    I fall into the camp of “former certified high school umpire”. I would say that most of umpiring is relatively easy, almost ridiculously so on when as a base ump. That being said, being able to create a mental frame of reference practically in thin air is a skill many people don’t have, and is critical to being able to effectively call the strike zone. It’s not as simple as it looks.

  10. smsetnor said...

    Having been an official for ten years, the hardest part really is dealing with managers/coaches/players.  And to be honest, I’ve trained dozens of people try to officiate multiple sports and some people just don’t get it.  Those that do get it catch on to the small rules easily and just have to be taught how to communicate.

    What makes professional umpires above so many is the fact that they work their butts off beyond a level that most of us are willing to do for anything in our lives outside of raising a child.  There are bus rides from A-Ball town to A-Ball town for dozens of summers for little money before you even get a whiff of the show.

    I think I might be rambling, but I really respect officials from every sport.  And while there are probably dozens of umpires who could step in and do fine.  But I don’t think it’s as easy as John Bee makes it out to be.  No offense, John Bee, but it’s a lot harder than it looks (and you sound bitter!).  And I would put money down that anyone who disagrees has never officiated anything with high schoolers or grown men participating.

    And to be honest, how many of us could go to work and have thousands of drunkards watching our every move.  Then those drunkards, despite knowing little to nothing of how to do our job, start criticizing every little thing we do.  Hey, that sales pitch was bush-league!  You call that budgeting?  No one came here to see you make a schedule, blue! 

    Just saying… I guess I’m sympathetic to officials…  And I ramble…

  11. ChuckO said...

    I think that the reason managers complain so much about fill-in umpires is because they don’t know them. Every umpire has his tendencies. Some of them seem to favor pitchers, others hitters. The teams have studied the umps and know their tendencies. When they get a fill-in, they don’t know what to expect.

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