THE UMPIRE FIX
By Fay Vincent
May 23, 2013
The umpires are in the news again. And though bad calls by umpires are hardly new, the omnipresent television replays of blown calls have led to renewed and justified demands from fans for baseball to take steps to improve things. In my opinion, the remedy is obvious and I suspect the baseball authorities will soon agree it is time to act.
Baseball is an industry that changes slowly and for most of us that pace is fine. But the umpiring profession is mired in ancient structures. For years baseball leadership has ignored umpires and treated them as if they were like the bases – necessary but hardly worthy of attention.
Today a young man – no women yet in the major leagues – who seeks to become a professional ump must find his way to one of the umpire schools owned and run by former umpires. Because those schools are not owned and operated by MLB, the training of entry level umpires is not managed by the major league authorities. The novice umpire will have to pay his own way, though recently there have been efforts by MLB to recruit and support minority candidates.
Generally the system remains as it has been for decades with the result an embryonic umpire has no assurance of a job when he finishes school. Even if he finds a job in the minors, the life is difficult, with low pay and meager expense allowances.
In addition to leaving the umpire schools to outsiders, MLB also leaves …
THE FAMILY RYAN: NOLAN STAYS PUT, REID MOVES UP
By Murray Chass
May 19, 2013
A collision in short right field with the bases loaded and two out in the ninth inning of a 4-4 game in Pittsburgh Friday night gave the Houston Astros’ newest executive a glimpse of the circus he had joined only hours earlier.
But like any kid who wants to run away and join the circus, Reid Ryan is ready to accept whatever he encounters in his new job, especially because what happens on the field won’t be his direct responsibility. The Astros’ dreadful daily performance, however, will make Ryan’s job more difficult.
Ryan, son of Nolan, is the Astros’ new president of business operations, although not everyone reported it that way. MLB.com, for example, ran this headline Thursday before Ryan’s appointment was announced:
Source: Reid Ryan to be named president of Astros
ARE RED SOX REELING ALREADY?
By Murray Chass
May 16, 2013
The Boston Red Sox fired Bobby Valentine as their manager after their disastrous 2012 season, but it seems that their exorcism might not have been incomplete. The sins of the devil incarnate apparently live on imbedded in Fenway Park’s Green Monster.
To be sure, the Red Sox won 20 of their first 28 games with winning streaks of seven and five fueling their strong start, and they led the American League East from April 13 to May 7, two-thirds of the season to that point (24 of 36 days).
But it has become a different season for the Red Sox. Entering Wednesday night’s game, they had lost 9 of their last 11 games, a .182 winning percentage compared with .714 previously, and they had tumbled 3 games behind the New York Yankees.
Those were the Yankees who were playing without more than half of their regular starting lineup and were not expected to keep up, though neither were the Red Sox. Boston, in fact, had unintentionally contributed to the Yankees’ early success.