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Don't kill the umpire, just get better!

Sun-Times sports writer/editor Daryl Van Schouwen checks in with this umpire rant:

There has been plenty of discussion lately, stemming from the run of blown calls by major league umps in the playoffs, about using replay in baseball.

Forget replay. How about this for a solution: Just get better. Just do a better job. Try to be above average.

Perfection? Not required or expected. There will always be human error

by umpires, players and managers. It’s part of the game, not an

altogether endearing one, but hey, that’s sports as we love them. As

one who grew up watching baseball in the 1960s and 70s, covered major

league baseball for the Sun-Times during the 1990s and continue to

watch closely now, there is no doubt in my mind that umpires were

better in the Doug Harvey/Satch Davidson era. Certainly on balls and

strikes. I love TBS’ pitch tracker, which confirms to all of us with

two working eyes what we’ve known for a long time: There aren’t many

real good balls-and-strikes umps out there. Most of them expand the

zone on both sides of the plate. The only thing consistent about their

strike zone is the inconsistency. How about calling a ball a ball and a

strike a strike?

What’s even more galling about umpires is, despite their standard of

mediocrity, they have the gall to be arrogant and confrontational.

Sorry, Cowboy Joe West, you are not good enough to be arrogant and

confrontational.

Back in the day, when umps were better and fans actually could identify

some of them by name, it was customary for fans to greet them with a

smattering of boos as they gathered around the plate to go over the

ground rules. In large put, they were good-natured jabs.

Fans don’t do that any more. But they should. These guys actually deserve it.