Joe Torre is now MLB’s umpire czar, and he told Ben Bolch of the Los Angeles Times that he wants to change their relationship to the game:
The former Dodgers manager who now serves as Major League Baseball’s vice president of baseball operations said he wanted umpires to feel as much a part of the game as players and vowed to do everything he could to support them. “We’ve pretty much isolated umpires from being a part of this game because they’re always out there and easy to criticize, and I just didn’t think that was right,” Torre said.
I don’t even know what this means. It seems to me that a lot of the problems we’ve had in recent years has been umpires wanting to be too great a part of the game and to draw attention to themselves when a player takes issue with them. They are officials. They should be respected, without question, but I don’t think I’d want to send the message that they are “as much a part of the game as players.” I want them to be like the college kid who refs my son’s soccer games. He shows up, he does his job and he doesn’t expect to join in for snacks afterward.
I think a ton of good would be accomplished if two things were communicated loudly and clearly: (1) to players and managers: you can ask questions and appeal respectfully, but you will not get anywhere chewing out umpires. And if you make a habit of it, you’re going to get fined; and (2) to umpires: if your call is questioned and if anyone gets in your face over it, take the high road and don’t bark back.