Baseball has not said how the new-old umpires would be folded back into major league service, if and when they do become eligible to return. A full complement of 68 umpires already is on staff, and the commissioner's office hasn't discussed how more would fit in. Nor is there a plan for getting the old umps up to speed on the new strike zone and rule changes.
The arbitrator's ruling, if it is upheld, will probably have more impact on such issues as monetary compensation than it will on staffing. Pulli and Tata have already said they intend to retire, and a source familiar with the case says a third umpire has similar plans. That means only six umps would return to the field. Tim Welke, secretary-treasurer of the World Umpires Association, the new union that rose from the ashes of the Richie Phillips-led group that collapsed after the resignation fiasco, says such a small number easily could be absorbed by Major League Baseball. "It seems baseball is understaffed, when you take into account injuries and time off," Welke says. "At times nine Triple A umps are working in the big leagues. They do a great job, but adding umps with experience wouldn't overstaff the leagues."
June 8-10, Astros at Rangers
Most interleague matchups, their novelty long worn off, carry no more cachet than any other sleepy midsummer series, but this year at least there are two new ones to break the monotony. While the Diamondbacks face the Royals for the first time this weekend, the matchup more likely to become an interleague hit is the first Lone Star Showdown. Expect some Texas-sized run totals. Through Sunday, the Astros had allowed more home runs (82) than any other team in the National League; the Rangers had hit the most (86) in the majors. What's more, Texas's sorry pitching staff, a liability against any opponent, is sure to have trouble with the National League's third-highest scoring lineup.