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!”
Phil Hughes was officially designated for assignment by the Twins on Tuesday, the culmination of multiple injury-plagued seasons and poor performance.
Things couldn’t have started out much better for Hughes in Minnesota. The former Yankees hurler joined the club on a three-year, $24 million contract in December of 2013 and reeled off a 3.52 ERA over 32 starts during his first season with the club. He set the MLB record (which still stands, by the way) for single season strikeout-to-walk ratio and even received some downballot Cy Young Award consideration. The big year resulted in the two sides ripping up their previous agreement with a new five-year, $58 million deal, but it was all downhill after that.
Hughes took a step back with a 4.40 ERA in 2015 and struggled with a 5.95 ERA over 11 starts and one relief appearance in 2016 before undergoing surgery for thoracic outlet syndrome. He wasn’t any better upon his return last year, putting up a 5.87 ERA in nine starts and five relief appearances. Hughes missed time with a biceps issue and required a thoracic outlet revision surgery in August. He began this year on the disabled list with an oblique injury, only to put up a 6.75 ERA over two starts and five relief appearances before the Twins decided to turn the page this week.
Hughes is still owed the remainder of his $13.2 million salary for this year and another $13.2 million next year. The deal didn’t work out as anyone would have hoped, but unfortunately this is another case of health just not cooperating.