Umpires are like dairy cows. The bottom 20% should be culled each year.
Al Oppedal, Ruthven, Iowa
Thanks for having the courage to take on the sanctimonious baseball umpires (Moody Blues, Oct. 19). I don't get their argument that it's O.K. to do a poor job of calling balls and strikes as long as their calls are consistent. Being regularly bad at any other job gets you fired. It should be no different for umpires.
Randall Schau, Portage, Mich.
If what union chief Richie Phillips says is true, that he has 64 of the best umpires available, then it should be no problem to get them to call the strike zone correctly.
Bill Lewis, Buda, Texas
The fact that there are umpires who feel "the little bit of money" they're paid (as much as $30,000 for a combined Division Series and World Series assignment) is "just not worth it" says it all.
David Bradley, Sterling, Va.
Maybe this letter should be titled Kill the Editors, but I wouldn't be that insensitive.
Terry Wilson, Gilford, N.H.
I was hurt and disappointed by your use of my picture on the cover of your Oct. 19 issue, which bore the headline KILL THE UMPS! In 22 years as a professional umpire, I have approached games with an ideal of fairness and common sense. I strive to get every play or pitch right.
An essential part of the baseball drama is the human element. An umpire is part of that. I perceive the play, apply the rules and make the decision, all in real time. Under these circumstances, questionable calls sometimes happen, just like rainouts and brawls. My role is to decide what is right. I cannot, like Solomon, split the baby. On any call, half the players and fans will be disappointed.
The dismay I felt when you used my picture was brought home when my nine-year-old son asked me, "Dad, does this mean they want to kill you?" In my job I am accountable to and scrutinized by many. I now ask if you are equally accountable for your irresponsible choice of words, which denigrates the game of baseball and causes me undeserved anguish?
Tim Welke, American League Umpire
I realize that "Kill the Umps" has long been an expression in baseball, dating back at least to the 1888 poem Casey at the Bat. However, in today's violent society, I think you could have chosen a better headline to express your dissatisfaction with the flaws in baseball umpiring.
Ann Bakun, Clinton, Mass.
Steve Rushin has lived every sports junkie's fantasy and told the tale exactly the way each of us would have (Road Swing, Oct. 19). As a Yankee living in the South, I think he got it just right. Rushin is my hero—this week.
Claire S. Jones, Soddy Daisy, Tenn.