Last Thursday, Rob Manfred, MLB’s executive vice president for labor relations, requested consent forms to perform background checks on nearly 70 umpires.
Manfred’s request turned sour when Lamell McMorris, spokesman for the World Umpires Association, used the request as a bargaining tool. He told Manfred that the umpires would provide the consent needed for background checks if the league would provide a seventh umpire to postseason crews. Manfred’s proposal abruptly ended the meeting, with both requests left hanging. Manfred blamed McMorris of trying to trade an economic issue for an integrity issue.
Apparently, the league’s checking account is fairly thin, without the funds to provide for an alternate umpire for postseason play.
I don’t blame the umpires for putting a price on their personal information. The league (or government) at some point will take it anyway, so why not get something beneficial in return? Everything has a price.
The league currently performs background checks on all new employees, but some of the umpires have been making calls in games for many years now. The type of background check the league would like to perform would be in the realm of a financial credit check. I think the real question is how effective will these credit checks be for determining if any umps are hangin’ with bookies?
According to the New York Times, Donaghy was a 13-year veteran referee and had 13 background checks done during his career, but they obviously didn’t work. Baseball’s action to seek consent for umpire credit checks is one way to generate some good press out of a negative situation – even if it is in a different sport.
If it’s the game’s integrity baseball officials are worried about, they should buck up and pay for the extra umpire.
Speaking of integrity, or lack thereof, Barry Bonds hit his 757th homerun Wednesday evening, breaking Hank Aaron’s 33-year-old record. This record-breaking moment would have been easier for me to take if Bonds had seemed more likable throughout his career. We all know he was juicin’ at certain times throughout his career, especially during the 2001 season where he hit 73 homeruns. From his start in 1986 up until 2000, Bonds never hit more than 49 homeruns – and then bang, he hits 73? After that, league officials began to investigate huge hitters for steroids (Sosa, McGuire) and then, no surprise, Bonds’ numbers dropped (from 2002 to the present, Bonds has never hit more than 46).
If I were Bonds, I would take 45 homeruns as my yearly average, and change my juicing 2001 total of 73 to 49. That leaves 24 more homeruns needed to break the record – and somewhat reasonably this time. By doing this, he could save some face with critics like me, and show that he takes at least some responsibility for his previous ’roiding actions.
Elsewhere on the baseball diamond, the Rockies’ bats are hot right now coming off a three game sweep of the Brewers. The three game routing started last Monday when the Rocks beat Milwaukee 6-2. Over the next two games, the Rocks’ hitting was unstoppable – winning 11-4 on Tuesday and then a whopping 19-4 on Wednesday.
The Rocks are currently four games back, behind National League West leader Arizona, who have won four of their last five games. The Rockies started an important four-game series at Coors Field against the Cubs on Thursday. It is uncertain how things will play out, but the Rockies could end up in a battle for the wildcard spot against the Cubs. On Tuesday, Colorado could make up some ground in their division if they can go into San Diego and steal some needed NL West wins.
For all those from the East Coast living the dream here in the San Juans, Curt Schilling made a return to the Red Sox lineup Monday after spending 59 days on the disabled list for tendonitis in his shoulder. Unfortunately for Schilling, he picked up a loss as the Red Sox went down to Anaheim, 4-2. The Red Sox are in Baltimore this weekend and will return to Fenway on Monday to take on Tampa Bay.
The Yankees continue to roll, winning five of their last six, with an impressive 16-8 win over Kansas City last Saturday. They travel to Cleveland this weekend for a three-game series and then are back at home on Monday to take on the Orioles.
Injury Scare at Broncos Training Camp
The Broncos first-round draft pick, Jarvis Moss, was carted off the field Monday after he twisted his knee while practicing a spin move during pass rush drills.
An MRI exam later came up negative on the 265-pound defensive end the Broncos acquired from Florida.
Is Terrell Owens hurt or injured? The 33-year-old wide receiver for the Cowboys hasn’t made many practices lately, citing back pain. An MRI was conducted and the pain was deemed by team doctors to be mere back spasms.
Editors Note: In the July 27 edition of the The Watch, an answer to Trivia Torture for Sports Fans was incorrectly given. The answer suggested that Marshall Faulk went to college at Loyola Marymount University. The correct answer is San Diego State University. Apologies go out to fans of both universities for this grave mistake.