May 15, 2012; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Phillies manager Charlie Manuel argues with home plate umpire Bob Davidson (C) and first base umpire Hunter Wendelstedt (R) during the eighth inning against the Houston Astros at Citizens Bank Park. The Phillies defeated the Astros 4-3 in 10 innings. Mandatory Credit: Howard Smith-US PRESSWIRE
Umpire Bob Davidson has been suspended by MLB for one game for "repeated violations" of MLB's "standards for situation handling."
You can see in the photo above how well Davidson was handling the situation that apparently prompted the suspension. Also, doesn't Hunter Wendlestedt look like Corey "Big Hoss" Harrison from Pawn Stars in that picture?
There's been a lot of talk about the tensions between umpires and players lately, but the biggest problem that I see is a simple lack of accountability for umpires.
Look at this from a player's point of view...if a player isn't any good, he loses playing time, he gets benched, he gets sent down, he gets cut. Many players have multi-year contracts, but still, for most players, every year, or every few years, they are at risk of losing their job if they don't perform.
Umpires aren't held to that standard. Umpires have tenure. Once an umpire reaches the major leagues, he's basically considered competent to continue umpiring until he decides he's done. The umpire's union has fought tooth and nail to prevent methods of increasing accountability, opposing the QuesTec system that was implemented a decade ago for evaluating balls and strikes calls and fighting against the use of instant replay. And firing an umpire in the current system is about as easy as firing a teacher in the New York City school system.
Its an untenable situation, and one that is going to get worse if MLB doesn't get the umpire situation straightened out.