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Friday, October 8, 2010
Player-ump relationships to be on table

By Amy K. Nelson
ESPN.com

NEW YORK -- A rare meeting between Major League Baseball players, umpires and league officials to discuss player-umpire relationships, and possibly instant replay, is set for Dec. 3.

The idea was sparked by the Major League Baseball Players Association after it received an increased number of complaints from players this season about umpires.

MLB spokesman Pat Courtney declined to talk about specifics of the meeting, which ESPN.com confirmed was scheduled after obtaining an e-mail that detailed logistics.

"We are not confirming any details about the meeting," he said Friday.

Michael Weiner, executive director for the MLBPA, declined comment. Brian Lam, an attorney for the World Umpires Association -- the union for MLB umpires -- could not be reached for comment.

Multiple players have told ESPN.com that tensions have increased with umpires. They also are concerned about a lack of transparency when umpires are evaluated.

"We never know why or when they are fined, or reprimanded or held accountable," Oakland Athletics reliever and player union representative Brad Ziegler said Thursday. "Anytime a player is punished, suspended or sent down to the minors, the public knows about it. It would be a lot easier to communicate with umpires if everyone was held to similar standards. Our statistics as players are a lot more quantifiable than the umpires'."

Increased attention on umpires has been a byproduct of recent high-profile mistakes and the advent of high-definition television, at-home replays and advances in technology within stadiums. Already during this postseason, calls have been isolated by players, the media and announcers as being problematic. Calls for a change in instant-replay policy have been renewed.

In Game 1 of the American League Division Series, Yankees outfielder Greg Golson made a crucial ninth-inning catch, but it was ruled on the field as a non-catch. Replays clearly showed the umps erred, and the next day Yankees manager Joe Girardi said he'd like to see the expansion of instant replay.

In Thursday's National League Division Series opener between San Francisco and Atlanta, Giants catcher Buster Posey was credited with a stolen base when replays showed he appeared to be tagged out. Posey later scored the lone run in the Giants' 1-0 win over the Braves.

"I guess it's a good thing we don't have instant replay right now," Posey told reporters after the game.

Amy K. Nelson is a staff writer for ESPN.com. She can be reached at Amy.K.Nelson@espn.com.