Valentine: If umpires can't make the right call, time for a change

Valentine: If umpires can't make the right call, time for a change
June 12, 2012, 12:00 am
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MIAMI -- Bobby Valentine wasn't happy with the umpiring in the Red Sox series over the weekend at Fenway, and when the topic was re-introduced Monday at Marlins Park, Valentine picked up where he left off.

"I don't like barking at the umpires," said Valentine, who objected to ball and strike calls Sunday. "I'd like to see a ball called a ball and a strike called a strike. Just play the game. I don't like that idea (of yelling at umpires)."

Valentine went on to hint that it might be time for Major League Baseball to find other ways -- beyond umpires -- to call balls and strikes.

"From the time that people pay hundreds if not thousands of dollars to teach their kids to play this great game of ours," said Valentine, "the No. 1 thing they do is they teach their pitcher to throw it over the plate; they teach their hitter to swing at strikes and take balls.

"When I did the Little League World Series (for ESPN), I thought it was the most criminal thing I ever saw, I wanted to cry, when a kid, in the sixth inning with the bases loaded and his team down by one run, was called out on a strike three that was six inches outside. He couldn't reach it with his bat. I cried for him. And that kid is scarred for life, playing our game, by an injustice.

"And then someone says the most ridiculous words that I ever hear: 'But we like the human factor.' It was criminal that we allow our game to scar a young person like that. And then it continues on. I think, in 2012, it should not be part of the process. I don't think it should be."

When asked if he was advocating the use of cameras to call pitches, Valentine demurred: "I want a ball called a ball and a strike called a strike. Let the humans do it, somehow . . . Our game is not someone else's strike zone; our game is what the book says. And that's how it should be played, from Little League to Cooperstown. To make it fair, to make it right."

Reminded that humans are bound to make mistakes in whatever job, Valentine responded: "Don't make it their job, then. The rule book doesn't say that the game will be played and arbitrarily ruled."

Valentine said umpires are "well-trained and very good at what they do. But I think it's almost impossible to do what they do. So why do we ask them to do the impossible?

"If in fact you can't see the ball the last five feet and now pitchers are throwing pitches that are moving in that zone . . . if you can't see it, why are we asking them to call it? They can't see it. They're humans. We're asking humans to do a feat that a human can't do."