The St. Paul Saints are no strangers to creative promotions, but they have may outdone themselves this time. They have scheduled what is being called an “umpireless game” for Saturday, May 11 when they take on the Gary SouthShore Railcats in an exhibition game.
In lieu of umpires, the Saints will have a judge in a robe stand behind the pitcher’s mound to call balls and strikes. Meanwhile, 12 little leaguers will serve as a “jury” to decide if runners are safe or out. Any ties will be broken by the judge on the field. Fans will also be able to take their disputes to a “judge” in the main seating bowl of the stadium. While this has the potential to be the longest game ever, the Saints believe that it will serve as an educational experience.
“We respect all baseball umpires and believe this promotion will allow our ‘jurors’ and both teams to realize how important they really are to the game,” said Saints Executive Vice President/General Manager Derek Sharrer. “This is something that has never been attempted before and I think it will make for an interesting and intriguing nine innings of baseball.”
This might be worth going to, if only so you can yell, “Robot judges, now!”
The Yankees interviewed Aaron Boone for their managerial vacancy on Friday, and today it was Chris Woodward’s turn. That makes at least five interviews since the offseason began, and Woodward’s likely won’t be the last.
Like fellow candidate Eric Wedge, whom the Yankees interviewed just last week, Woodward has never played or coached for the club. He spent the majority of his 12-year career with the Blue Jays and picked up brief stints with the Mets, Braves, Mariners and Red Sox before returning to Toronto for his final season in 2011. Following retirement, he served as the Mariners’ minor league infield coordinator and infield and first base coach from 2012-2015. During the 2015 offseason, he jumped over to the National League to work with the Dodgers as a third base coach, and saw his first postseason run since the Mets lost to the Dodgers in the 2006 NLDS.
While Woodward has yet to manage at the major league level, he was named manager of the New Zealand national team during the 2017 World Baseball Classic qualifiers. It’s certainly conceivable that the Yankees would prefer a candidate with significant experience leading a major league team, but right now the only person who fits that bill is Eric Wedge — and, well, it’s Eric Wedge.