Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Replacement umps lose control in Birmingham

Striking minor league umpires finally have an incident to support their claims.

Birmingham Barons
manager Chris Cron pulled his team off the field after three bench clearing episodes in Saturday’s Southern League game against Jacksonville. Following the third dust-up, White Sox director of player development Dave Wilder walked onto the field and reportedly told the replacement umpires they would never work in the league again.

Both Cron and Wilder were concerned that the replacement umpires had lost control of the game and feared the players would get hurt. The striking minor league umpires have contended all along that the presence of replacement umpires would be most noticeable during difficult situations. In this instance, it appears they were right.

Now, I've never been accused of being a pro-labor zealot, but it's time for major league baseball clubs to step in and get this strike settled.

Triple-A umpires make a base salary of about $15,000 per year. Lower level umpires can make as little as $5,000. They are striking in search of higher base salaries and a larger per diem.

In fairness to minor league baseball officials, they thought they had struck a deal when they left the bargaining table a couple of weeks ago, but the Association of Minor League Umpires vetoed the deal. They decided the proposed raise wasn't enough.

It's time to get back to the negotiating table.

Brawls happen in all levels of baseball and it's ridiculous to believe even the best umpires in the world can eliminate them.

But from a strictly financial viewpoint, wouldn't it be worthwhile for major league clubs to step in and double the minor league umpire's salary if that would cut down the probability of Saturday’s events happening again?

They certainly have the money. And it's cheaper than having one bean ball war injuring a multimillion-dollar prospect.

In a related note, minorleaguebaseball.com is reporting that Durham's Delmon Young has been suspended 50 games for throwing a bat at a replacement umpire.

To read more about minor league baseball, go to minorleaguedugout.com.

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