Purple Hazed Ideas No. 12: Umpire Mics

Doug Pensinger

MLB umpires should have mics like NFL field officials do.

It's a quick hit today for the 17 people who need their Purple Hazed Ideas fix. I've got a few good big ones in the works that should be fun but this is timelier right now as it actually concerns current MLB trends and news.

I actually thought of this before instant replay had been incorporated into the game but mostly forgot until recently, especially after some of RhodeIslandRoxfan's writings on some of the added ambiguity that replay brings.

One of the issues at hand is, of course, that sometimes the reasoning behind an overturned call can be uncertain.

Was the play overturned because the guy was safe or because the catcher blocked the plate? Was it not overturned because you saw for sure that the play was called correctly? Or was it because the camera angles were inconclusive and/or the view was blocked?

NFL referees have been talking to us for ages and I think it's time MLB caught up. Or maybe I don't. But this isn't the place for thinking. I've warned you about thinking during PHI!

If umpires were mic'd up they could (and then would have to) explain their reasoning to everyone and not just the manager, if they even decide to do that. This would eviscerate the disconnect between the fans and what is happening on the field. If you watch an NFL game, you see these guys have practically become qualified paralegals, chattering off precise reasoning even sometimes as to why a call was not made.

It is now common to hear them turn the mic on and say something along the lines of, "There is no foul for pass interference on the play because the ball was not catch-able." This clears up confusion for those who saw definite contact but maybe didn't have the angle to see how far out of play the ball was. It also can calm tempers on all sides because people tend to get upset when they aren't sure things are being called fairly.

MLB umpires also sometimes have some explaining to do, and giving them mics would provide them the avenue to do it.

It would also be interesting to have them use it for ball and strike calls so we can all hear throughout the stadium, especially for borderline calls that require specification. It could be beneficial for everyone's understanding of the strike zone if we could all hear, "No, that's a ball outside!"

Conversely, I'm not sure I like the idea of further glorifying umpires. So maybe just for the explanations.

No real off-topic idea for this week except to say that I think some form of this could also be useful in the NBA. I don't want to hear Joey Crawford's voice any more than Angel Hernandez', but the less they can hide behind anonymity and the more they are forced to justify their actions publicly, the more transparent the whole thing becomes and the better the games will be.

Can you think of any other awesome uses or horrifying misapplications and unintended consequences of this idea? Share in the comments!

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