Sportsman's Daily


Erratic Umpiring Prompts MLB to Consider Fan Voting to Decide Controversial Calls

American Idol Judges

MLB considers new approach to deciding close calls. Simon Cowell likes the idea, though players are not looking forward to going through nine innings of Cowell-inspired sarcasm and snark.    

PHILADELPHIA (Sportsman’s Daily Wire Service) — Each game in this year’s Rays-Phillies series has been marred by a controversial call. Though none of the botched calls has had a direct impact on the game’s outcome, they’ve been a huge embarrassment to the League office and have caused what one MLB official calls “a crisis in confidence not seen since John McCain inserted himself into the financial crisis several weeks ago.” The calls have caused everyone from Commissioner Bud Selig to Major League Baseball’s vice president for umpiring, Mike Port, to call for dramatic changes in 2009 – none more dramatic than the distinct possibility that major calls reflect the will (or, if you prefer, judgment) of fans.
“We’ve long weighed the possibility of expanding instant replay beyond home-run calls to balls and strikes and other aspects of the game susceptible to human error, not to mention unwitting bias on the part of umpires looking to accelerate a slow game because they’re running late for a so-called massage back in the room,” said Selig. “But like it or not, umpiring is part of the game’s tradition.  Instant replay works for the NFL, but we’re not the NFL, we have no desire to be the NFL.  We want to retain as much of the human element as possible. In fact, we prefer the American Idol model to the NFL approach – combining a panel of so-called experts – or umpires – with instant input from fans….it’s proven to be a winning formula.”
While he is a devoted fan of “Dancing with the Stars,” Mike Port likes where the Commissioner is going.  
“The challenge will be in making sure each crew has its Simon Cowell – a guy with a nasty streak who doesn’t just ring you up, but publicly humiliates you for swinging at a pitch well outside the strike zone. I’m not sure if there’s a place for a Paula Abdul type – I think it’s best that we leave the heavily medicated, erratic personalities where they belong – in the owner’s box.”
Tampa Rays GM Andrew Friedman also approves the move.
“It’s time we upgraded,” said Friedman. “Let’s face it, the product has grown stale, it needs to be brought up to date and into today’s Web 2.0 world where fan interaction means more than pouring beer on the opposing team’s right fielder. Some will argue that most fans don’t know the rules, even the simple ones like a tie goes to the runner.  How can you put these critical decisions in their hands?  Well, how many people going to the polls November 4th can tell you what the tenth amendment is? Not many. Does that disqualify you from voting for President? No. That wouldn’t be fair. Why should you be required to know that when the Republican nominee for Vice President couldn’t tell you amendments six through twenty?”    
After last night’s game we sampled fan opinion at a crowded Philadelphia sports bar.  Roughly two thirds of the loud, inebriated patrons voiced their approval, though it could have been in response to the comely co-ed doing a strip tease on the bar.     
“I think it’s a great idea, there’s simply no replacing the human element,” said Dave Starr, a patron from downtown Philadelphia whose eyes followed the almost naked co-ed with the intense concentration of an umpire watching a stripper curl around a foul pole.  “It’s as much a part of the game as cracker jacks, hot dogs and urinating on your shoes before staggering home from the sports bar.”     

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