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Friday, May 1, 2009
Questioning umps' integrity

From the mailbag, regarding my post Thursday about A-Rod and pitch-tipping: Thanks for the note, David. That Mantle story is definitely one of those that was in the back of my mind when I mentioned that pitch-tipping's been around for a long time. I'm away from my books at the moment, but I believe that McLain was helping Mantle hit his 500th home run. I doubt if the catcher was Mickey Cochrane, since he played his last game in 1937 and Mantle didn't debut until 1951. You probably are thinking of Bill Freehan (an outstanding player who is far, far too often forgotten).

Now, about your other points ... Yes, umpires are highly fallible. Yes, occasionally an umpire will act with less than the greatest integrity. And, yes, when an umpire makes a terrible call, the umpire's supervisor should address it.

But how you get from there to permitting players to tailoring their calls to their wagers, I just don't know. If Jamie Walker really believes an umpire bet on the game -- and it's highly unlikely that he really believes that -- he should take it up with his employers, who may then take it up with the Commissioner's Office. But I hope that everyone reading this knows that you simply can't allow players to run around and accuse umpires of blowing calls on purpose. You do that, and the center cannot hold.