To put it as bluntly as a 96 mph fastball to the jaw, Major League Baseball umpires are dropping like flies from blows to the head and neck caused by batted and/or pitched balls and no one seems to know what to do about it. Yes, catchers go through the same types of blows, but they’re much better protected and, you know, athletes. (Okay, most of them.)
(Don’t do it, Roberto; you’ll give him another concussion!)
Five MLB umpires (including Kerwin Danley, who took that Brad Penny pitch off his head last month, and John Hirschbeck, pictured above) cannot complete their duties at this moment because of those head and neck injuries that have accumulated over time. Umps have been asked to start reporting the blows to the head, but that’s probably the last stat on their minds during a game.
(Especially if a concussion has wiped the blow off the mental stat sheet.)
To which we say: new equipment is a great idea and we’re all for it, but how far away are we from not needing balls and strikes called anymore? How many more years until QuesTec can take over the duties full-time and let the home plate umpire (still needed for many calls) duck behind the catcher completely?
We respect that it takes a very unique and important set of skills to make those pitch calls and many MLB umpires even have those skills. However, why keep sticking your neck out there and getting it hammered repeatedly if you don’t have to, gentlemen (and someday ladies)? We still promise to blame you for other calls you probably got right; let’s get you safe at home first.