Thursday, March 30, 2006

Umps say they're out

It could be a fireworks-filled opening weekend for the Biscuits.

If you haven't heard, minor-league umpires and Minor League Baseball have been trying to negotiate a labor agreement. So far, they've been unsuccessful and the umpires say they're going on strike. Next week, if no agreement has been reached, Minor League Baseball will use fill-in umpires, apparently from each team's area, from the college or high school ranks. Fill-ins are already working spring training games.

This could get interesting.

I've already seen more sniping at the umpires this spring than the two previous years. Spring minor-league games are quite relaxed and a borderline call -- in the past -- rarely drew more than a glance.

I don't challenge the fill-ins qualifications, but the players and coaches do. They'll question them in full force when the season starts. I will say that the speed of a professional game is significantly faster than the amateur level (and the language is much bluer and tolerated). Calling a prep game one day and the Biscuits the next isn't a tasty recipe.

If the situation isn't settled, expect a highly charged atmosphere -- and plentiful dugout-to-umpire diatribes -- at the stadium.


BamaMan48 said...

I heard from one of the umpires involved that this weeks games will be called by high school umpires. No plans are made so far beyond that.

I heard they threatened to blacklist any college umpires who might want to move up to minors if they applied to call while the strike was on.

Stacy Long said...

I'm still getting used to this blog stuff. I posted this in the wrong file and went back to move it.

We're working on a story about the local fill-ins, but I don't have any details.

Umpires don't progress from college games to the minors and then the majors. There are umpire schools in Florida each winter for anyone wanting to work in the minor leagues. Now, a college umpire can go to one of those schools.

If they're good enough (and lucky enough), one of the short-season leagues hire them and they start working their way up. It's a long road.

Southern League umpires have usually been in the minors for at least five years. They're still two steps and quite a few years from seeing a major-league field, if they're again lucky enough.

Keep checking the paper for the story.