Something needs to be done about umpiring in the league

Admittedly, what spurred this post on is not entirely Red Sox-related. Yesterday, White Sox pitcher Jose Quintana was ejected from a game for throwing behind Ben Zobrist during a game. This sparked a rather extreme tirade by Hawk Harrelson about the state of umpiring. Rays pitchers went on to hit two White Sox batters, and even threw at Alejandro de Aza while de Aza was standing on second base. The Rays were neither warned nor ejected.

Hawk Harrelson was confronted by both Bud Selig and Jerry Reinsdorf, but no action against the umpire has been forthcoming.

Now, I'm sure I've made my distaste of Hawk Harrelson clear on this board, and I don't believe that he approached this the right way, but he has a point. It seems that umpires have displayed not only incompetence in recent years, but blatant favoritism, things like Joe West refusing to grant time to Red Sox and Yankees players so that the pace of the game could increase, or even earlier this year, when Cody Ross struck out looking to end a close game without the opposing pitcher ever throwing a strike.

Others have said, and I agree, that the best umpire is one whose name you never learn. They stay out of the game and don't bring their egos and biases into their jobs.

I'm not sure how feasible the following plan is, but I would like to start two petitions, one for baseball fans and one for baseball players, demanding reform for baseball umpires. The following are changes that I feel would improve umpiring throughout the league. Note that this does not include replay, that is an argument for a different time.

  • Visible consequences for umpires: If an umpire botches a play or lets his personal feelings interfere with the flow of the game he will be punished in a visible manner. The MLB Commissioners office will create a press release stating "Umpire X was fined X dollars for conduct unbefitting of a Major League umpire on {date} during a game between {team A} and {team B}"
  • Major League Baseball will create and release to the public an "umpire scoring system" that ranks umpires from best to worst based on votes from players, managers, and other umpires.
  • The four lowest umpires on said scoring system will be demoted to the minor leagues each year, with the top four minor league umpires being promoted
  • Umpiring teams will be disbanded after each season, and new umpiring teams will be created during spring training. The umpiring teams will be put together by a team from the Commissioner's Office, and no two umpires from the previous season's team may be on the same team.
  • Only umpires rated high on the umpire's scoring list may be Crew Chiefs.
I feel that if the following changes are made, then the state of Major League umpiring will drastically improve, making their officials potentially the best of all the major American sports.

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