So, in the last week we have had some unreal calls on the diamond. Derek Jeter got called out when he made one of the better adjustments to a slide I have seen and Kosuke Fukedome was robbed on a force play at second. Both plays were shown on replay for all us watching on TV, and, on both plays it was blatantly obvious the correct call was safe. Jeter was told that the ball beat him to the bag. Well, that would work on a force play but that wasn't the case and Jeter was correct. Fukedome's play was just blatant, he beat the throw. People were thrown out of games, it was a travesty, and, the umps that made the calls were on the diamond to call the next game.
Where is the accountability? Well, I found it (or the lack thereof) in the MLB agreement with the Umpires Union. Even though stadiums may have "jumbotron" screens, they can't show the close plays right on the scene. Apparently, the umpires are afraid of being bombarded with projectiles, when the fans actually see whether a play call has been botched. I also think this rule is to protect the aire of infallibility the umpires try to hold on to. Here is notice to the umps, you have already lost it. I have also seen all too many plays at first, that are blown, with the tie goes to the runner rule. I think the obvious way to do this is replay. Do it like football and give the Managers 2 replay flags that they can use to challenge any 2 calls throughout the game. Strikes, balls, force plays (by the way, the behind the back, no look flip play, from last week, the runner was SAFE!) foul balls, fan interferene, anything could be challenged. It will make the umps better, not worse. The least challenged and overturned umps will be the ones to do the playoff and World Series games. Just in case you are wondering, Darell Cousins would not be working any meaningful game after the year he has had.
I also think we could make it so the home plate ump doesn't need to call balls and strikes. A laser grid pattern can be set, when, as the ball crosses the hitting zone it registers whether or not it crossed the strike zone. Also, they could utilize micro-technology by inserting a chip into the balls and bases to try to time out bang-bang force plays. The umpires need to realize that they are quickly overstaying their usefulness, and, if they want to keep their gigs, maybe they should open up to their weaknesses. Make themselves accountable to their calls. They could be proactive, not defensive, and things would get better. If it got to this point, taking the human element out of the officiating of a game, we would only need 2 umps. I think it would be sufficient to have one on each of the foul lines. Mainly it is to assure that the calls made by the computer umps are relayed to the players during the games. MLB could save a ton of money because a 18 year old could do the job. Or, maybe you have guest umps, former players and celebs that "call an inning". OK maybe that is unrealistic, but, my point is that we could seriously take away the Unions power with some of this tech.
One last thing on this subject, THE ONLY REASON WE SEE MORE MISSED CALLS IS THAT WE HAVE ACCESS TO REPLAYS ACROSS THE COUNTRY, INSTANTLY. If we go back 2 decades, to 1989, If you are in Chicago, you never knew if the umpire crew in Houston made a bad call on a force play. You only knew if the umps in "your" city made a bad call, and, if they didn't, great, who cares about the other cities (sarchastic tone). The umps did a good job on our game (more sarchastic tone). That attitude is gone with the internet, Sportcenter, MLB ticket, and any other instant access outlet. We can now see all the games and their bad calls, on a daily basis.
My point is how many of these calls, that are missed, on a daily basis, effect the final outcome of the season. Shouldn't we want to get the truest champion. Shouldn't we strive to get the most honest result. Shouldn't we want to reduce the arguing and fighting. There are solutions, and I think the first should be to allow replay in stadiums. Hold umpires accountable to all of their play calls, and lambaste them publicly if they are wrong by showing the stadium their mistake, immediately. The only thing that can't happen is, as fans, please don't throw anything at the "blues" when you see their mistakes. If anyone reads this, thanks for listening to my insanity.