Fieldin Culbreth MLB Umpire Suspended and Fined

Bad Calls, Bad results

Major League baseball fans have been known to boo, hiss, yell profanities, and even shout “kill the umpire”.  After two egregious incidents in the past week, a senior umpire has been suspended.

Umpire  Fieldin Culbreth has been suspended two games, and fined for allowing a rule violation which occurred during a game Thursday evening between the Houston Astros, and the Los Angeles Angels.  Fines were also given to the other three members of his crew, Brian O’Nora, Bill Welke and Adrian Johnson.

In the seventh inning, Astros’ manager Bo Porter put left-handed pitcher  Wesley Wright into the game.  Mike Scioscia countered by sending up pinch-hitter Luis Jimenez, a right-handed batter, with the Astros leading 5-3.

Porter countered, and called in right-hander Hector Ambriz, who replaced Wright.  Angel manager Scioscia protested immediately.  Culbreth and his crew huddle three times, but allowed the pitching change.  The Angels played the game under protest, but rallied to win 6-5.

Rule 3.05 (b) states a pitcher inserted into the game must face at least one batter, unless unless injury or illness prevents him from doing so.

Rookie manager Porter was unaware of the rule.  He assumed that there had been an amendment to the rule to allow the change of pitchers.

Culbreth is in his first year as a crew chief, and has worked two World Series. He made his MLB umpiring debut in 1993.

“Me personally, I want to apologize to the whole crew,” Porter said Friday in Houston. “I stand corrected. Mike Scioscia was right.  I feel bad I put the umpires in that position.

The entire rule reads:  “If the pitcher is replaced, the substitute pitcher shall pitch to the batter then at bat, or any substitute batter, until such batter is put out or reaches first base, or until the offensive team is put out, unless the substitute pitcher sustains injury or illness which, in the umpire-in-chief’s judgment, incapacitates him for further play as a pitcher.”

On Wednesday, umpire Angel Hernandez made a grievous mistake when he failed to overturn a call which cost the Oakland Athletics a win.  After a video review of a call in which a homerun by the “A’s” was denied, Hernandez failed to recognize the error by his crew.

MLB executive Joe Torre confirmed the “bad call”, but no action was taken against Hernandez.

Increased video review is planned for MLB.

Major league sports are not only games, they are in reality major business ventures.  When referees and umpires make mistakes, especially after viewing video evidence, the futures of players, coaches, and franchises can become jeopardized.

I am a continuous critic of Professional Football, where fines are regularly levied against players for on-the-field actions which violate league rules.  But Commissioner Goodell is biased against the players.  When his officials make bad calls which are obvious to the most un-educated fan, and confirm them after instant replay revues, they are never fined or suspended.  And in all too many cases those calls affect the future of a team’s playoff future.

I commend MLB for taking immediate and decisive action.  All sports deserve to see the outcome of a competition decided by the players, and not those who possess the power to decide who wins and who loses.

James Turnage

Columnist-The Guardian Express

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