Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Hey Boss--I didn't do my job, and you can't do jack about it.

That's essentially what 3B umpire Marty Foster said to Derek Jeter on Monday after calling him out on an attempted steal of third base. From the AP, via

"I was just baffled by the explanation," Jeter said. "I was told I was out, because the ball beat me, and he didn't have to tag me. I was unaware they had changed the rules."

There are always going to be some mistakes made by umpires. They're just as human as the rest of us, and over time the mistakes are going to even out. But there has to be some accountability for these guys, who make a hefty living (Rob Neyer quotes $300k per year, for only 6-7 months of work).

Even worse, crew chief Rob Hirschbeck answered all the questions for Foster's blunder (and didn't help matters much):

"You have to make sure that you have a tag," Hirschbeck said. "It used to be if the ball beat you, you were out. It isn't that way anymore. It's not a reason to call someone out. You have to have a clean tag."

Hirschbeck added that, if Jeter's representation of Foster's on-field comments were correct, Jeter's confusion would have been understandable.

"In my 27 years in the big leagues, he's probably the classiest person I've been around," Hirschbeck said. "It would make his actions seem appropriate if that's what he was told."

The players and coaches make themselves available for the media when they make game changing errors. Yet umpires rarely do. To be clear, an umpire is best doing his job when we don't notice he's even there. But that's during the game, Marty. You screw up your job, and then openly admit it (without admitting you've done anything wrong, either) and then toss Joe Girardi when he decides to say something about it, you better be willing to answer a question or two after the game.

No doubt about it. If the events that have been reported thus far are completely accurate, Foster should be fired.

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