Joe Torre wants umpires to feel “part of the game.” What does that even mean?

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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.

Report: Hanley Ramirez “eyed” in federal and state investigation

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Former Red Sox first baseman Hanley Ramirez is reportedly being “eyed” in an ongoing federal and state investigation, per Michele McPhee of ABC News. McPhee did not elaborate on the exact nature of the investigation itself, but provided a few more details during an interview with 98.5 The Sports Hub on Friday:

“Obviously, I know absolutely nothing about sports or Hanley Ramirez’s stats, but what I do know is crime,” McPhee said. “And there has been some reports about a FaceTime phone call that was made between a man during a car stop. After that car stop, police recovered a significant amount of drugs. And during that car stop, the suspect claimed that one of the items found in the vehicle belonged to Hanley Ramirez and then FaceTimed [Ramirez] in front of police. And that car stop coordinated with the timing of his release from the Red Sox.”

McPhee further clarified that she thinks the suspect — who was reportedly transporting 435 grams of fentanyl and a “large amount” of crack cocaine — was tied to “a sweeping federal case involving a substantial ring that’s being operated out of Lawrence, Massachusetts.”

Ramirez, the Red Sox, and Major League Baseball have all denied knowledge of any current investigation. According to the Boston Globe’s Alex Speier, Red Sox VP of media relations Kevin Gregg insisted that Ramirez had been dropped from the team for baseball reasons alone and had not been made aware of an investigation at the time of his release.

“Hanley has no knowledge of any of the allegations contained in this media report and he is not aware of any investigation,” the infielder’s agent, Adam Katz, added Friday.

The 34-year-old Ramirez was designated for assignment on May 25 and became a free agent on June 1. Prior to his release, he batted .254/.313/.395 over 195 plate appearances, 302 shy of the 497-PA threshold he would have needed to cross in order to activate his vesting option for 2019. He’s still owed the remainder of his $22 million salary for 2018.