Demoting Umpires: Should Underperforming Officials Be Sent to the Minors?

MLB's umpiring woes intensify despite technological advances.

by Nouman Rasool
Demoting Umpires: Should Underperforming Officials Be Sent to the Minors?
© Steph Chambers/Getty Images

A month into the MLB season, several narratives have unfolded, each carrying implications for the teams and the game at large. The Los Angeles Dodgers display their prowess, though they haven't quite hit their stride to greatness.

Meanwhile, the Chicago White Sox's struggles hint at a potentially historic low, contrasting with the New York Mets, who are proving naysayers wrong by performing better than anticipated. Amid these evolving stories, umpiring controversies have surged to the forefront of league discussions.

The quality of officiating has been a perennial gripe among fans, players, and coaches, often escalating when decisions adversely affect their teams. This season, the uproar over umpiring errors has been especially pronounced.

Umpiring Under Fire

Criticism isn't new, particularly for umpires like Angel Hernandez, whose calls frequently attract scrutiny. However, this year the problem appears more widespread across the league. Even with video replay technology designed to correct on-field mistakes, errors persist, raising questions about the effectiveness of the current system.

In light of these ongoing issues, three-time Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer proposed a novel approach following a minor league rehab appearance. He suggested that umpires be ranked based on their performance, with the possibility of demoting the lowest performers to the minor leagues.

"We need to rank the umpires. Let the electronic strike zone rank the umpires," Scherzer asserted, suggesting a conversation about the "bottom 10 percent" and the feasibility of their relegation to refine their skills, much like underperforming players.

While the concept of robotic umpires has been a topic of debate for years as a potential solution to human error, Scherzer remains opposed. Preferring human judgment despite its flaws, he remarked, "I want a human back there judging calls.

It seems too weird to have a robot calling the game." Scherzer's comments highlight a fundamental question about the balance between human oversight and technological intervention in sports. As the MLB continues to grapple with these challenges, the discussion around umpire performance and accountability is likely to intensify, influencing future policies and the integrity of the game.