Joe Torre wants umpires to feel “part of the game.” What does that even mean?
Joe Torre is now MLB’s umpire czar, and he told Ben Bolch of the Los Angeles Times that he wants to change their relationship to the game:
I don’t even know what this means. It seems to me that a lot of the problems we’ve had in recent years has been umpires wanting to be too great a part of the game and to draw attention to themselves when a player takes issue with them. They are officials. They should be respected, without question, but I don’t think I’d want to send the message that they are “as much a part of the game as players.” I want them to be like the college kid who refs my son’s soccer games. He shows up, he does his job and he doesn’t expect to join in for snacks afterward.
I think a ton of good would be accomplished if two things were communicated loudly and clearly: (1) to players and managers: you can ask questions and appeal respectfully, but you will not get anywhere chewing out umpires. And if you make a habit of it, you’re going to get fined; and (2) to umpires: if your call is questioned and if anyone gets in your face over it, take the high road and don’t bark back.