In the world of professional sports, the only men who keep the star athletes in check during a game tend to be the officials. Where the athletes have to talk to the media and explain their actions before and after games, the decisions made by the officials never seem to come into question. But why is that? From a sports betting perspective, officials and in particular umpires should be held accountable for their actions, as much as the athletes. After all, the decisions made by the umpires can affect not only the players in the game, but the bettor at home wagering on the game.
Umpire accountability has been an ongoing issue in the MLB for decades. Over the past month, it seems as though the issue has been raised ten-fold, because of the direct affect the umpire decision has had on a game. For many fans, and athletes alike it appears illogical, as to why the players and coaches are called out on certain plays by the media, yet do the same thing to the umpires and face ridicule from the MLB. Look, we understand that the umpires in every game have the toughest jobs, as they have to make things fair for both teams. However, what we are arguing, is that if an umpire does something blatantly obvious, such as call a ball a strike because they think the player showed them up, or overruled another umpire and allowed a team to rally, they should have to explain their reasoning.
Throughout the years, the issue of umpire accountability has sparked much debate amongst fans and media outlets alike. On the one hand, the aforementioned argument of explaining actions seems justified. Conversely, by holding an umpire accountable, there is a belief that it diminishes the umpire’s role. In other words, if the umpire knows they have to meet with the media after the game, then they may be more inclined to make a bad call, because they feel outside pressure on their job. As a result, the MLB Commissioners office does not require the umpires to talk to the media.
Another issue with umpire accountability is that an automatic fine is charged to any player or coach that criticizes the officials. This isn’t only seen in baseball, as the NBA, NFL, and NHL all have stiff penalties as well for players and coaches that harshly criticize the officials in their leagues. With this being the case, it is rare to see an umpire disciplined for their overreactions but it happens more in baseball then in any of the other sports. For instance, a couple of weeks ago when Philadelphia Phillies manager Charlie Manuel and home plate umpire Bob Davidson were each suspended by the MLB for their actions in a confrontation during a May 17th game. Davidson became the second umpire in five years to be suspended for actions the MLB felt obstructed the game.
But for the two umpires that received suspensions in the last five years, countless officials have made controversial calls without punishment. In many cases, the calls made by the officials can be reconsidered based on instant replay. Nevertheless, the MLB is as stubborn about replay as it is about umpire conferences with the media. For both scenarios, the umpire wins out, because the media and instant replay would second guess the decisions, whether they are right or wrong.