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The Inside Track | Morning Briefing

It's Safe to Call Their Judgment Very Questionable

July 19, 1999|SCOTT HOWARD-COOPER

Grill the ump!

"Help Wanted: Prestigious sports league seeks people for part-time work and executive-level pay," Newday's Jon Heyman writes, joining the ever-expanding discussion on the future of major league umpires. "Exceptionally short hours (four-to-five-hour days). Five months vacation (plus three weeks in-season). No college degree necessary. No skill necessary except 20-20 vision (with or without corrective lenses). Great exposure, including marketable TV face time. Extensive travel. All the baseballs you can squirrel away. Pay: $150,000 to $175,000 annually.

"Oh yeah, it's going to be tough to replace major-league umpires if they walk away from the game Sept. 2, as they threaten. Real tough. Where in heaven's name are they going to find people to do jobs that require folks to work half days for half the year and still be paid five times as much as the average American worker? If you're scoring at home, in terms of an hourly rate, that's 20 times the pay of the average person.

"On second thought, where does the line form?"

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Add ump dump: "Like in any profession, there are good ones," Heyman writes. "Jim Joyce, Frank Pulli, Ed Rapuano, Randy Marsh, Jerry Crawford, Ed Montague, Terry Craft and Tim Welke are a few of the best. Let's keep them, and some others, and let the others leave. [Union chief Richie] Phillips bragged that they'll get $15 million severance pay, and some people around baseball must be thinking, what a cheap price to pay.

"It shouldn't be too difficult to find replacements for their cushy jobs. The real problem will be the umpires' if they leave. What are they going to do? Most jobs have stricter requirements than being sighted. Some umpires do have college degrees, so they can try for entry-level office jobs, at maybe $25,000 to $30,000 . . . .

"Still, it can't be easy telling an employment agency you've spent the past 20 years watching baseball games. What could that possibly prepare you for, other than maybe a sportswriting career?"

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Trivia time: Which was the first team in major league history to turn two triple plays in one game?

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It's a punch, sucker: Late in the fifth round of Friday night's fight in Atlantic City, N.J., trainer Al Mitchell was shouting instructions to super welterweight David Reid. Reid responded by turning and waving his arm to dismiss the advice.

Reid's opponent, Australian Kevin Kelly, then dropped the WBA champion with a looping left hook--only the third knockdown in Reid's 13-fight pro career. Reid eventually won a 12-round decision and retained his title, just not all his dignity.

Said Mitchell: "He's got to improve his listening skills."

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Blue Monday: Jim Caple of the St. Paul Pioneer Press, in his weekly ranking of baseball teams:

23. Los Angeles--Giving new meaning to term Dodger Dogs.

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Trivia answer: The Minnesota Twins on July 17, 1990--but they still lost, 1-0.

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And finally: It's not your father's national pastime. The Boston Red Sox optioned a right-hander from Korea, Jin Ho Cho, to triple-A Pawtucket and recalled a right-hander from Japan, Tomokazu Ohka, to take his place.

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