Friday, July 5, 2013

Was The Brian Runge Firing A Wake Up Call For Professional Sports?

The job of an umpire or referee in professional sports is to maintain the integrity of the game.  It is their responsibility to make sure no team has an unfair advantage and everyone is playing by the same set of rules.  Although sports fans don't always agree with every call umps and refs make there is an assumption they are judging the games with a sound mind and free of personal bias.  It appears as sports fans we have been somewhat naïve.

Longtime MLB umpire Brian Runge was fired recently for failing a drug test.  It wasn't released what the drug was, but what if it was some mind altering hallucinogen?  Since Runge has called 3 no hitters in his career and Philip Humber's perfect game last year should we question their legitimacy?  Was the strike zone expanded during those games?  Did the batters have a fair chance?  Should we assume all of the bad call he's made over the years are a result of drug use?

Personally, I don't care if the guy was taking steroids to help with a nagging knee injury or using deer antler spray for a sore elbow, but if it was shrooms, crystal meth, or Oxycontin I'm a little concerned.  Runge is a 3rd generation umpire so I'm almost willing to give him the benefit of the doubt.  Besides, Vegas hasn't hit the panic button just yet and they are the ultimate barometer of these things.  With billions of dollars exchanging hands they can't afford to have any funny business going on with the umps and refs. 

It's probably asking too much, but baseball should break its privacy rule and tell the public what Runge tested positive for.  With a job description predicated on split second decisions it's better to know if someone's personal habits are affecting the outcome of games and changing the course of history.

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