The Yankees Have A Legitimate Complaint About Umpiring

Brett Gardner ejected for dugout antics 8/17/19 (Photo: New York Times)

The Yankees, for the second time in two weeks, were caught in the path of umpires overstepping their bounds. Two wrongs don’t make a right but…

The Yankees can beat everyone except the umpires this year. Acting like a very short beat cop who prides himself on carrying a big stick, makeshift umpiring crews are taking their toll on the team. Joe Torre and Major League Baseball need to take notice…

In the sixth inning of Saturday’s win against the Cleveland Indians, the Yankees got another dose of what can only be called bad umpiring. Not for the questionable balls and strike calls made by a replacement umpire called up from the minors who shall remain nameless. Umpires are human, they can have a bad day.

Brett Gardner's roof banging umpiring protest (Photo:
Brett Gardner’s roof banging umpiring protest (Photo:

No, the shadow cast on the game is what happened afterward. Amid a chorus of protests from the dugout regarding a “bad” call on Cameron Maybin, Aaron Boone was prompted to make his beef known to protect his players. All managers do this. It’s part of their job to be sacrificial lambs at times.

Immediately, Boone was ejected by the home plate umpire. Which, in turn, prompted Brett Gardner to introduce his newfound way of protest by banging his bat on the dugout roof. The veteran first base umpire apparently found this to be offensive, so he ousted Gardner. Which sent CC Sabathia into a frenzy, and he too was ejected, even though he was still on the IL. Here’s the video…

While fans, myself included, enjoyed the circus, Joe Torre owes us some answers to a legitimate question. Which is, how and when are umpires disciplined for incompetence and overstepping their bounds?

Joe Torre, MLB's Chief Baseball Officer (Photo: Wikipedia)
Joe Torre, MLB’s Chief Baseball Officer (Photo: Wikipedia)

When Player X is called up by the Yankees and goes 0-12 and makes a bonehead play in the field, prompting his demotion back to the minors – nothing is said. He failed and now he suffers the punishment.

MLB answers that it does indeed discipline their umpires with unscheduled days off, fines, and suspensions. But with all the scheduled built-in vacation days for all umpires per their contract, how are we to know from one game to the next who’s on vacation and who’s on suspension?

We don’t know. Some would say it’s none of our business to know. Why not? Players suffer the indignity of suspensions made public – like the ones Boone and Gardner are almost sure to receive. If they’re accountable, why aren’t umpires treated the same way?

There are two sides to every story, right? And maybe Brett Gardner’s form of protest, while unique and certainly loud and entertaining is a bit too much. But you can pour over the MLB Rule Book and I’ll guarantee you won’t find banging a bat in your dugout on the roof listed as a violation.

Fan protesting an umpire's call (Photo: Wikipedia)
Fan protesting an umpire’s call (Photo: Wikipedia)

Umpires are paid to control action on the field. If not held in check, they’ll be tossing me from the ballpark for hollering, “Get a pair of glasses, Mr. McGoo” to an umpire.

The Yankees feel they are being singled out. And maybe they are. That’s not the point though. The salient moment of truth is that umpires appear to be getting away with murder. Appearing or seeming is a relative word. Either way, it taints the sport of baseball, just as the “seeming” use of steroids was treated the same way as doing steroids.

The Yankees have boldly stated their case and for them, it’s time to get back to baseball and winning a Championship. Not so for Joe Torre and his troops at MLB headquarters in Secaucus, New Jersey.

There’s at least the perception of a problem here. The Yankees, like all teams, are at the behest of the umpires. Bad ones, mediocre ones, and exceptional ones.

Joe (Torre), we’re counting on you to dive into this issue with alacrity. We’re not looking for a witchhunt, only for your usual fairness and tact in handling situations of this kind…

Written by Steve Contursi, Editor, Reflections On Baseball
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Author: stevecontursi

I am an amateur writer with a passion for baseball and all things Yankees and Mets.

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