If You’re Going to Fire Someone…

…shouldn’t you fire the person who’s responsible?


USA Today

Major League Baseball, angry over the abundance of blown umpiring calls in the 2009 postseason, has fired three of its seven ump supervisors.

Marty Springstead, Rich Garcia and Jim McKean, each involved in umpiring for 40 or more years, were fired on Jan. 12. They received the news by telephone.

So, who do they replace these guys with? A group of youngsters who’ve toiled for years in the minors for low pay, just hoping for an opening, right?

Randy Marsh and Charlie Reliford, two umpires who retired after last season, have been hired as replacements. Ed Montague, who retired after 34 years, also is in negotiations about a supervisor’s job.

I understand these are supervisor jobs, but couldn’t they have promoted some current umpires to create slots for some new umpires? MLB’s current umpire system needs serious reform, and especially new blood. There are plenty of good umpires out there, just as there are many good players. But even the best players don’t stay in the game for 20–30 years like MLB umpires do.

My plan for reforming umpires:

— Increase minor-league umpire pay dramatically to attract the best umpires to the game.
— Improve external monitoring with technology (already being done).
— End de facto tenure for major-league umpires. Swiftly fire umpires who make consistently bad calls. With better lifetime pay, you don’t have to worry about discouraging young umpires by firing the bad. You could even demote to the minor leagues.
— Reward the best umpires with better pay and perks.

4 Responses “If You’re Going to Fire Someone…”

  1. Johnny says:

    Sure, Tim McClelland blew that call pretty badly, but he is arguably the best ump in Major League Baseball. I think we should give him a pass.

  2. Kent says:

    Amen to that!

  3. CT Sports says:

    umpires are just human but think they might want to get younger. these old umps have to get tired

  4. Donald A. Coffin says:

    I don’t know what the CBA looks like for umpires (and haven’t actually checked), but I suspect it places some restrictions on firing umps or on returning them to the minor leagues for performance-related issues. it may even have provisions relating to selecting supervisory umpires. That said, the changes you suggest might well have the effect of improving the quality of umpire performance. I might add, to the pay-and-perks part of your suggestions, making substantial improvements to the pension plan. To the rest of it…there should be some way of using the best-performing umpires in a mentoring/training/consulting capacity even if they are no longer working on-field .