Instead of More Replays We Need Better Umpires

What can we say about the umpires this October? Well, they’ve been bad. Very bad. So far it has either benefited the Yankees or they have found a way to work around it. Last night was a night for both as bad calls definitely cost them one run, but a couple of calls went their way as well.

The bad calls started at second base where Nick Swisher was picked off second base, but was called safe despite being thrown out by about a foot. That’s where crew chief Tim McClelland stepped in with his own brand of justice.

Swisher, eventually on third base with less than two outs during the same inning, legitamately tagged up on third base for a sac fly. When the Angels threw over to third base after the play McClelland, who was seen in replays not paying attention to third base at all, he called Swisher out while he was in the dugout getting congratulations for scoring a run.

“In my heart, I thought he left too soon,” McClelland said after the game.

Then there was the next inning where Jorge Posada was caught in a run-down between home and third. He ran back to third where he and Robinson Cano were both caught off the bag. Two players off the base, two players tagged, one player out. Even though this call went the Yankees way it is pathetic and there is no excuse for it.

Of course McClelland had an excuse for it.

“When he tagged Cano, I thought Cano was on the base,” McClelland said. After viewing replays, “it showed Cano was off the bag when he was tagged. I did not see that for whatever reason. So, obviously, there were two missed calls.”

Nevermind the fact that Angels catcher Mike Napoli was standing between Cano and the bag at the time he tagged him. McClelland thought Cano was on the bag. Pathetic.

These guys are not just bad, it’s embarrassing for baseball. These are important games where lazy umpires are effecting the games as much as the players on the field. It has renewed a cry for instant replay, something the slow-paced sport does not need. In games where the catcher is going out and talking to the pitcher between every pitch, it does not need to be slowed down further with constant replays.

Perhaps part of the problem is that these guys have been around forever. For those who don’t know, McClelland made himself famous when he called out George Brett in 1983 for having too much pine tar on his bat. That’s right, 1983.

He’s been doing this for 26 years and when he gets not one, but two calls so blatantly wrong and there is no recourse against him. No demerits, suspensions, fines, no nothing. There is no reason for him to try to be better the next time around.

I’ve heard the argument that the first bad call against Swisher was just to make up for him not being called out on second. I buy that. It sounds like decent umpire logic. But I do not accept that as something that should be a part of baseball. We’re talking about the playoffs. The answer to a bad call is not another bad call. If they make a bad call, it’s time to suck it up, move on, and get the next call right.

But instead we have guys out there that have had their jobs for 20 or 30 years. They’re comfortable with taking the game into their own hands. They also haven’t been trained or been challenged for their jobs in about 20 or 30 years. The Daily News offered limits for how long these guys could umpire as a way to make them better. I think it’s time MLB started looking into something like that.

I wish I thought that this were going to be the last time this happens in the playoffs, but we all know it won’t be. The call shouldn’t be out for more replays

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