MLB umpires are really milking their last few minutes of relevance, doing themselves no favors arguing against robot umpires taking over their jobs. No, Triple A isn’t testing robo-ump at the moment, but maybe they should because what happened to Madison Bumgarner on Wednesday was the epitome of legitimate behavior.
Only an inning into his start, first base umpire Dan Bellino felt the need to examine Bumgarner’s palm for debris. Whether jalapeño juice, sunscreen, or dumb putty was found, Bellino performed Bumgarner because he had trouble with the inspection, which looked more like a staring contest.
Not only does Bellino try to look Bumgarner in the eye throughout the inspection, he doesn’t even look at the pitcher’s hand. Bellino has a crooked, annoyed demeanor reminiscent of a teacher who catches a student plagiarizing a term paper.
It certainly seems like the ejection was predetermined, and whatever reaction/reason for the disqualification the first base umpire was looking for, he got it. Little did Bumgarner know that the fans who showed up for the matinee games between the Miami Marlins and the Arizona Diamondbacks didn’t come to the ballpark hoping to see the four-time All-Star and three-time World Series winner’s seat , but rather arrived hoping to see him booted after 13 pitches.
No rulesman thirsts for the spotlight like an MLB umpire. (Scott Foster is the incumbent winner of the Joey Crawford Award, given annually to the NBA’s most self-serving umpire, and he would like an honorable mention. Done. Keep spoiling Chris Paul’s chances at an NBA title, Scott, and maybe make it one day a price in your shame.)
Bumgarner’s sacking was the most egregious of the week, and yes, I’m including Max Scherzer being kicked out of the dugout for battling balls and punches. It wasn’t the first time he’d been kicked out of a game as an open spectator, as happened in 2013 when he was a member of the Detroit Tigers. In this case, too, he argued with strikes and balls.
In the undertones the new pitch clock works, it shortens the length of the games. Whatever the case, there’s still another rule for the umpires to interpret…or misinterpret. There was an automatic strikeout because a batter didn’t get back into the box fast enough.
Batsmen will also be timed under the new rule, and I’m guessing the home plate umpire wasn’t happy with Midland RockHounds infielder Jordan Diaz’s readiness. He called Strike 3, 2-2, even though Diaz had two feet in the box and pitched in a pitch he’d never seen. You can be lenient with the hitting zone, but not when a man’s bat is still spinning? good sir
If we’ve learned anything from endless scrutiny and challenge, it’s that the merging of umpires and umpires with technology isn’t seamless or even intelligent.
Oh no no no I’m not advocating ridding sport of technology. But on the contrary. Just let the revolution begin. At the very least, a computer isn’t going to kick someone out of a game for being upset about it.