I Hate Umpires

Two Phillies games this week reminded me of that. Which is why it's time to replace them with machines

On Monday of this week, I did almost an entire radio show on the subject of why I detest umpires.

Within the content of that show, I fashioned an idea to eliminate, in particular, the home plate umpire from the entire proceeding — replaced by a sophisticated laser beam system hooked up from center field and bearing down directly on the strike zone of each particular hitter. That zone would be determined by the physiology of each player in the league, studied and recorded by computer. [SIGNUP]

It was a preposterous idea, probably logistically impossible, my critics reminded me. Who would call a close play at the plate? Who would determined whether a batter was nicked with a pitch, or whether there was catcher’s interference and so on and so on.

And yes, it was a preposterous idea. But it was an idea forged by my frustration with the inconsistencies of umpires in the way they call balls and strikes, and then their arrogance in making such calls and their penchant for staring down batters or pitchers who give them even as much as a curious look following a questioning of a call, or even taking off their mask and barking at them.

In a comedy routine, Eddie Murphy once said, “Give a man a badge and he wanna be a cowboy.” Give a major league umpire a badge and he wanna be an emperor.

I got a lot of negative e-mails for my hateful stance against umps. What did an ump do to you in a past baseball life, Mike? And then, by the middle of the week, after two major league umpires in two subsequent Phillies games put into play their typical “God Complex” demeanor, everybody was suddenly on my side.

First it was some tool named Greg Gibson. He missed a call in Monday night’s game that was pivotal in a Phils loss. He failed to call Houston outfielder Michael Bourn out of the baseline when he tried to avoid a Ryan Howard tag at first base. Now, even if Gibson was making a judgment call on that play, and even if his judgment was right, it doesn’t excuse the fact that he never got his lazy butt in the proper position to see that Howard had actually tagged Bourn on the play. The tip off to that was when Bourn was standing on first base, like a smarmy kid who had eaten a cookie before the wicked nanny found out, laughing with Howard, knowing he had gotten away with something. And the reality is that Gibson, awash in his God Complex, couldn’t swallow his pride long enough to perhaps ask the home plate umpire — who probably had a better angle on the play to see whether Howard tagged Bourn — for help.

Now if I’m Charlie Manuel, I say something like this: “Look at this, Greggie. Bourn is laughing his ass off at you right now. Look at him! Now take that into consideration and consider that you MIGHT be wrong about the tag play, and please, for the love of God, swallow some of your pride, walk 10 feet down the friggin’ line to confer with your partner here at home plate and ask him whether he saw the tag! If he says no, he didn’t see the tag, then I will go back quietly into the dugout and not cause any more of a fuss. But for the sake of getting the call right, considering that we’re in a friggin’ PENNANT RACE, please just ask him.”

Charlie is not nearly that articulate, so it never got done that way. Instead, the Phils manager probably said something like, “Why you sonuvabitch! How the fuck can you miss a call like that?! And then he was tossed.

I hate umpires. And I hate them even more after Tuesday’s night’s game, where some Napoleon-complex jagoff named Scott Barry tossed Ryan Howard from the game, forcing the Phillies to use a valuable starting pitcher as an outfielder.

Here’s the way things transpired. Barry, the third base umpire on Tuesday, ruled a Howard check swing a strike early in his at bat in the 14th inning. Howard stared down at Barry, putting his hands on his hips, as if to say, “Aw come on, I didn’t swing!” And Barry, who really should have been looking down, or in the stands, or better yet, should have turned around and not even NOTICED Howard’s reaction, decided to bait the already steamed slugger by mimicking Howard’s hands on his hips and then giving him a jut-jawed, defiant look. Now players’ egos are totally out of control. There is no question about that. But for some reason, umpires don’t realize that the players ARE the game. Umpires apparently don’t realize that in the scope of major league baseball, they are lower than whale shit and some actually think that fans come out to see them make calls.

So when called upon to measure another check swing, Barry didn’t hesitate in punching out Howard for strike three, which is where all the mayhem started. Bait and conquer. And I’ll bet Scott Barry, this little, irrelevant man, at the end of the night pimped like a peacock in front of his hotel mirror.

It’s so sad. And so pathetic. I can’t wait for the days of laser beams calling balls and strikes and robots calling out or safe.

And then I want to see a You Tube video of Scott Barry, drunk on some bar stool at the Horsin’ Around Bar and Grill, teeth rotted, hair askew, greased out, begging for another shot of Wild Turkey and trying to tell anybody who walks within five feet of him that he was once a major league umpire.

Give a man a badge and he sometimes embarrasses himself.

Listen to MIKE MISSANELLI weekday afternoons on 97.5 The Fanatic.