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for discussion: robo-umps and lingerie football league rejects

VEB wants to know - has the NFL referee fiasco killed any chance of MLB addressing its umpire problems?

Bob Levey - Getty Images

something that's been on my mind all week, watching this nightmare unfold in the NFL: has this killed any chance of bud selig (or his successors) taking the umpires union head-on?

i'll grant you that there's a real chance that the substitute NFL refs were particularly more terrible than the regular referees. but every game - in baseball, football, or basketball - has its questionable calls. sometimes TERRIBLE calls.

the problem is that, even if any substitute refs or umpires aren't worse than regular refs or umpires, it will be way too easy to label an egregious missed call as a product of inexperienced and inadequate officials. whereas, when the ordinary refs or umps are on the field, we just say it was a bad call.

think back to armando gallaraga's shoulda-been perfect game. jim joyce made a bad, terrible, awful call. but everybody knows jim joyce. he has a great reputation. people hate the call, but it's just a bad call in isolation. now imagine if he had been an ex-division III baseball ump.

imagine if denkinger had been a scab umpire serving while MLB had a labor dispute.

that's the nightmare scenario for any commissioner thinking about taking on the umpires' union.

MLB badly needs some kind of reform for its umpires. it may be technological - such as increased reliance on ball/strike cameras, fair/foul cameras, sensors, etc - or it may be a professional reform - such as rigorous quality reviews of calls and increased discipline for showboating and provocation by umpires.

sadly, i think we just saw why it's never going to happen.