Monday, August 23, 2010

Fielding Culbreth...Is That A Chip on Your Shoulder?

Say Fielding, every fourth day it's your turn to call balls and strikes, correct? Does this work for you? I mean you get treated well being that you are representing the Major Leagues of Baseball, albeit as an umpire, right?

Judging by your efforts on Sunday, August 22, 2010 at St. Louis, I'd say you were disinterested at best.

The sporadic strike zone you allowed for Barry Zito and the favorable one you provided for a St. Louis Cardinal rookie was in a word: sickening.

The San Francisco Giants pitching staff has had only 2 wins from its starters in the past 16 games and I think the fact that some umpires are inconsistent with the strike zone has a lot to do with it.

Sure, the pitcher has to adjust. But if that means having to throw pitches over the middle of the plate he may as well ask the batter where he wants the pitch thrown. When the umpire exhibits a poor judgment of what a strike is then it is the umpires who need make the adjustments. Someone up in the Replay Booth needs to taser the ump with a tweet that he's off the mark and the game itself is suffering because of it.

The umpires are arbiters of the text inside the rulebooks. They must and shall aways adhere to these rules. The umpire is the person who knows the full-intent and meaning of these rules. It's not open to interpretation. If it is the umpire who needs an interpretation of the rules, he is NOT doing his job.

These "chips on their shoulders" in blue have the attitude that they are the law. Fu-get-about da rulesbook! I am the law. That attitude is as old and stale as the calorically-challenged-umpire's breath.

This is why we need Instant Replay. The same way You Tube has invaded our privacy, a constant camera angle on the "Chips'" work behind the plate will show those (whose job it is to review the umpire) just how consistent that particular "Chip" is and if the umpire gives a half-hearted effort, for whatever reason, it'll be duly noted by the person reviewing his performance.

It has been long overdue that all sports use the technology to get the calls right and not give the officials unlimited power in how they choose to interpret rules. I am the first one to say I'd rather have a human do it but if the human is stubborn and appears to be ad-libbing something that has a distinguished rule assigned to it then that person needs to be replaced.

If you don't want to follow the rules and do what you were hired to do, you no longer do that job.

Of course, like with everything else, not everybody is guilty of this half-hearted effort. We just need to weed out the ones whose consistency leaves something to be desired.

Umpires have set the bar very high for their profession. They don't need attitudes in need of adjustment or chips on their shoulders to lower the bar. They are there to see to it that the rules are followed and no one is getting an unfair advantage. By no means can we accept that it is the umpires whose bad judgment and questionable behavior is what's providing the unfair advantage.

Kevin Marquez