The Chumpire Strikes Out
My pal Jaap has ably chronicled a few other high profile chumpire moments this year, often with the help of advanced photoshopping skills. The long and short of it is, these mistakes are starting to pile up.
During last night's victory over the hapless Gnats, David Wright was basically picked off of first base, and his dash for second occassioned an extremely high throw from the first baseman. The second baseman, having to lunge up in the air to retrieve the ball had no shot at tagging Wright out, and he slid under the tag safe for all to see. The play had three notable characteristics: 1) visible with the naked eye from 3000 miles away on my tv, and 2) really visible on the instant replay and 3) the ump called Wright out. Am I crying over nothing? Sure, you say the second base ump's mistake didn't affect the outcome and these things happen.
But why should we settle? Bruce Weber over at the NY Times has an opinion piece today that basically warns the MLB that they are setting themselves up for a Tim Donaghy-like scandal by skimping on the salary, benefits and training of the minor league umpires. Weber drops this factoid: most MLB umps are pulling down $200,000-400,000 a year. Still feel sorry for them?
Look at it this way. Last night's blown call was egregious. If a shortstop trying to make it at the major league level lets a few slowly hit rollers roll right through their legs, guess where they're going? That's right, back to the minors or worse. You can't blow the easy ones and expect to keep your job. What makes the umps any different?
Is human error a part of the beauty of baseball? Yes, it is. But when umpiring mistakes like last night's, the equivilant of balls right through the wickets, start to become commonplace, it's time for some reform. What kind of reform, I have no idea.
How about a Questec for calls at second base?
I have never been a basher of Carlos Buntran. But he is not any easier to love when he continually watches third strikes, fastballs groved right down the middle, right into the catchers mitt, muchless called third strikes on nasty curveballs that have made him infamous. This, you might remember, happened again last night immediately after the David Wright fiasco detailed above. My theory is that he spends too much time in the tennis ball machine practicing reading numbers off the balls as they shoot towards him. Basically, he recognizes the pitches too well, and ends up admiring balls that he could take a lusty swing at. It is arguably unfair to hold Beltran to a higher standard. This is Buntran's relationship with the Metsfans in a nutshell: he's so good, but he could be better. That said, he seems to be breaking out even as I kvetch, and that's always a good thing for the Metsies.
Legitimate #1 Carlos Zambrano just resigned with the Cubbies, meaning that there is one less high quality arm in the pool for the Mets to blow $15-20 million a year for 5-10 years on this winter. Con: With pitchers available shrinking, the Mets will have to pay even more for even less; Pro: He's kind of a hot head. Plus, I get the sweats when I see the name Zambrano on the back of a Mets jersey anyhow.
I can't help feeling that his team really needs a bankable ace to turn itself into the dynasty I deserve. But it is soooo risky to pony up the big money in the crazy starter market that it is almost irrationale to get into the bidding, I can't blame Omar for abstaining. The two thoughts battle it out in my tiny head.