Former MLB VP: 'I doubt the umpires really care about Harrelson'

In a blog Tuesday morning, I speculated about Hawk Harrelson’s rants on umpires.

I pointed out the difference in his outburst when A.J. Pierzynski and Robin Ventura were ejected oSaturday and his silence when Jesse Crain didn’t get a 3-and-2 call in Baltimore on Monday night. The backdrop, of course, is Harrelson’s tirade on plate umpire Mark Wegner in Tampa earlier this season that was followed by phone calls from Commissioner Bud Selig and Sox Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf.

I don’t know if Chairman Reinsdorf had a talk with Harrelson last weekend, but I wrote that if he did, he likely would or should make the point that such outbursts could hurt the team that Harrelson so passionately cares for on the field. Umpires are human, after all. They talk. They know what’s being said, and I can’t imagine they would be too happy about some of the things Harrelson said. Subconsciously, I speculated, it might affect their decisions.

That notion prompted a response from Mike Port, a former general manager who worked for Major League Baseball as the Vice President of Umpiring until March, 2011. Here is his email:

Steve:

I can’t tell you I am the smartest guy in the world, but I can tell you I spent 42 years in Baseball , the last 5 1/2 years of which were spent supervising the Major League umpires.

Are Ken Harrelson’s umpire-related rants hurting the White Sox?

In my opinion -- no.  Maybe the MLB umpires are good at fooling me -- but based upon my experience and acquaintance with them -- I don’t think so.

Several points:

--Just as players try, umpires try.  Players miss ground balls, strike out, throw wild pitches, etc.  Umpires miss on pitches and calls.  But to think umpires “screw up” on purpose is akin to believing that a player would strike out on purpose to aggravate his manager.

--Umpires have great accountability to the Commissioner’s Office.  As you probably know, plate performances are evaluated by the best technology.  And, every call they make is reviewed for accuracy.

--The White Sox.  They have a good club.  Compliments to Kenny Williams and his crew for trying to “rebuild” and compete at the same time.

--Ken Harrelson.  Great personality, but considered an incorrigible, tired act by the umpires.  They consider the source and respect the players’ efforts too much to make mistakes intentionally.

--In Harrelson’s regard, the umpires seem to gravitate to something told to me by Gene Autry (whom I had the privilege of working for with the Angels): “If you see it; why would you step in it?”

A quick review of Harrelson’s umpiring “expertise” would seem to indicate that Harrelson is one of those who thinks that because he once flew on a 747 that he can pilot the damn thing.

I doubt the umpires really care about Harrelson.  One thing I found them to be excellent at is recognizing ignorance.

Best regards.

Mike Port

Copyright © 2015, RedEye
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