With the burden of holding the fate of a game in their hands, major league umpire has become one of the most villainized jobs in all of sports. Every call has the potential to bring a cascade of boos and obscenities soaring down from tens of thousands of heated fans.
The only goal an umpire should have is to make the correct call, something MLB umpires do with amazing consistency. Unfortunately, it seems that this important part of the job is starting to be lost in the modern umpiring community.
On Wednesday afternoon, in Fenway Park, Adrian Beltre stepped to the plate with a runner on second and two outs in the bottom of the ninth. On a 1-1 count, Kevin Gregg threw a slider low and away, drawing a check swing from Beltre.
Without hesitation, the home plate umpire, Dale Scott, ruled Beltre had swung. Beltre immediately pleaded with Scott for an appeal to the first base umpire, but by then it was too late.
Though Beltre singled later in the at-bat, this is just one of many examples of a home plate umpire's machismo getting in the way of the correct call. Instead of understanding their limitations and asking for assistance, most MLB umpires continue to deny hitters the right to appeal to the person with the best angle on the field.
From their position on the foul line, a corner umpire has a straight shot down the line to determine if the batter has broken the plane with their swing. Furthermore, umpires are taught to track the ball into the catcher’s glove, meaning that if they are doing their job, they have almost no chance of actually seeing if the bat broke the plane.
Now that the problem has been identified, the only question remaining is how can it be fixed? The only answer in my mind is a rule change in baseball.
Instead of giving the players no say in umpire appeals, players should be allowed to call for an appeal from a corner umpire instead of just the home plate umpire. This would avoid mistakes in the future and allow the call to be made by the right person, whether the home plate umpire thinks so or not.
Though this may appear to be casting a negative light on MLB umpires, remember one thing, a home plate umpire can make upwards of 300 split second calls a game. Of these, the average professional umpire will call over 98 percent of them correctly.
Despite how talented they are, everyone needs help from time to time. So remember umpires, if you don't have the best look, please ask for help from someone who does.