"Most _______ are actually pretty good at their job; it's a few bad ones that give all of the ________ a bad name."
There are a number of different vocations that you can "Mad Lib" into that sentence above. Car salespeople, cable installation technicians, sports bloggers and, yes, Major League Baseball umpires (or officials of almost any sport, for that matter. I say "almost" because NBA refs ALL suck. This is known.).
Most umpires do a pretty good job. I know this because I watch a ton of baseball and probably couldn't name more than three or four umpires. If you don't know an umpire's name, it means they're doing their job. (Conversely, I can name practically EVERY NBA referee, reinforcing my above point.)
One umpire, though, whose name I now know and will forever know is Mike DiMuro. Why is that? Well, let's find out.
The Yankees and the Indians hooked up Tuesday night in Yankee Stadium, providing the backdrop for the play that infamously made DiMuro a household name (Courtesy of USA Today):
With an Indians runner at third base in the top of the seventh, [Yankees outfielder Dewayne] Wise chased a fly ball into foul territory. He reached for the ball just as he tumbled over the short wall separating the stands from the field. Wise disappeared into a sea of fans, and when he emerged, third-base umpire Mike DiMuro called the final out of the inning.
Wise never tried to sell the out. DiMuro never asked to see the ball. Replays showed what only Wise and a handful of fans knew for certain: The ball had bounced off the heel of his glove and into the stands. A fan was holding it while Wise jogged to the dugout.
Yowza. Sounds bad, right? Well, how about the actual video footage for you? (Courtesy of NESN.com)
I'll admit, I didn't see this footage until after my radio show Wednesday morning, but when my co-host on 1560 The Game John Granato described it to me, it sounded ridiculous. Having seen the video footage now, it's a thousand times more ridiculous than any possible description could capture.
I mean, not only does the ball clearly bounce off Wise's glove in plain view, but DiMuro sheepishly walks out there like his wife just asked him to come look at carpet swatches, like he barely gives a shit. Oh, and he also walks RIGHT BY THE FAN WHO PICKED UP THE BALL. Not just that, but he walks by that fan as he LITERALLY raises the ball over his head to show all of his cronies in the section! And then to cap it off, DiMuro doesn't even bother to check Wise's mitt to see if he's holding the ball before calling the batter out.
A replay was never shown on the stadium scoreboard, but DiMuro saw it after the game.
"Now that I see the tape, it's obvious that the ball fell out of his glove," he said. "In hindsight, I should have asked him to show me the ball since he fell into the stands and out of my line of vision."
Oh, you think so, doctor? To exponentially multiply the pool of incompetence in which he was wallowing, DiMuro then gave Indians third baseman Jack Hannahan (the hitter who got jobbed by this horrible call) the heave-ho for arguing the obviously putrid call. Of course, the burden of proof was on Hannahan at the time because MLB jumbotron operators function under an understood video gag order not to replay highlights of controversial (read: botched) calls.
Which brings me to instant replay review for umpires. Right now, baseball is still stuck smack dab in like 1987, with replay for marginal/possible home runs only (and even that comes after a three-minute process whereby all the umpires leave the field of play to go into some secret cave and
eat a meatball sub review the play on television). Because many plays in baseball are difficult to retroactively overturn due to the nature of the game, and because baseball is just generally fucked up, the powers that be in MLB haven't expanded replay further.
They need to expand replay further.
Tuesday night's screw-up by DiMuro is a perfect example of a play that would be subject to replay under the "Sean Rule," which states that as long as there's not a speculative aspect to rectifying an overturned call (i.e., "Well, that ball actually did drop in for a single so that runner on second may have scored, but maybe he didn't...uh oh, what now???""), and as long as it's fucking obvious, like Wise's non-catch of Hannahan's foul ball, then a play can be reviewed.
And it would be reviewed by a fifth person who is well versed in watching baseball on television (like, say, ME), as opposed to sending four umpires down into Zed's basement so they can put their gimp suits on for four minutes while the crowd sits there waiting with their thumbs up their collective ass.
Under the "Sean Rule," that fifth replay ump would have seen the very first replay of Wise's drop, immediately hit a button that notifies the home plate ump that DiMuro is an ass clown (and possibly electroshocks DiMuro out of punishment). The call would be immediately reversed, and Hannahan's count would be reset at whatever it would have been after a normal foul ball into the crowd.
Obvious stuff like this, where all you need is to see it one time and say, "WHOA WHOA WHOA....that was just plain wrong...reverse that" -- these are plays that would be weeded out and overturned quickly by the "Sean Rule."
Basically, the "Sean Rule" is to use common fucking sense. So it's a lock baseball will never do it. Ever.
And fans and the umpires themselves are left hung out to dry, so that on mistakes like the DiMuro/Wise fuck-up, they all get painted with a brush that leaves them with the same shade of credibility as this referee (In particular, fast-forward to 7:15. Classic old-school WWF referee moment. FOREIGN OBJECT!!):
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Listen to Sean Pendergast on 1560 The Game from 6 a.m. to 11 a.m. weekdays, and watch the simulcast on Comcast 129 from 6 a.m. to 8 a.m. Also, follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SeanCablinasian.