Umpires Seal Deal, Gaze Into the Spectre of Death's Wrinkly Visage

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The World Umpires Association ratified an new labor agreement with Major League Baseball on Monday that will give them at least five more years of making the right call 99.6% of the time and getting the business from fans, owners, announcers, columnists, beat writers, bloggers, your Aunt Helen, managers, players, and peanut vendors the remaining 0.4%:

"It wasn't unanimous, but it was the most overwhelming vote I've ever participated in," said Joe West, the veteran umpire who is president of the umpires' union. "Everyone is very happy and pleased that we could work through this. This was a good day for baseball and a good day for the umpires. We will make every effort to keep baseball and professional umpires first. We will all work hard to make it right."

Translation: Country Joe West is just happy they included a clause that covers any medical expenses stemming from stomach-stapling surgery. So, what exactly is new in this plan?

As part of the agreement, Commissioner Bud Selig will have more flexibility to dictate expansion of the instant replay system and umpires will now be able to work in successive World Series. There was also a modest pay raise that increases over the course of the contract and buyouts that will allow veteran umpires the ability to retire early.

Emphasis mine. Of course the emphasis is mine, doesn't embolden certain passages in their press releases.

But what does this mean, umpires will be allowed to retire early? Wouldn't they get a benefits and pension plan if they stayed in the game until a certain retirement age was reached? Or is this merely a ploy for baseball to force early retirement on aging umpires whose aging judgment they feel has declined enough to warrant dismissal?

The way it works now, umpires are not like players, because they can stay in the game as long as they want. Umpire skills, unlike player skills, don't fall off a cliff at age 35. They do, however, sometimes fall off a cliff at age 55, which is why Bud Selig and his boys decided the only way they can persuade an old fart like Ed Montague to take a trip to Shady Pines would be to drive a dumptruck full of money up to his door.

Don't forget that this is still a young union, only in existence since 1999, the year former Major League Umpires Association president Richie Phillips led his minions into ill-fated tilt at the windmills of relevance. That was the old, stronger and centralized union. This is a new union, well under the thumb of Herr Selig. Still, a union is a union is a union and the umpires are well-compensated for their full-time job and in far better shape than most organized labor in this country.

So if you start to see a handful of veteran umpires getting their gold watches a bit early and heading off into the sunset in a brand new Cadillac, you'll know who nudged him in the right direction. Exactly, the robot umpires.

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Wait, I thought our new president Scott Brown was opposed to unions? I DON'T EVEN RECOGNIZE THIS COUNTRY ANYMORE.

The real reason Rob is so delighted with the early retirement option is it will give him more frequent opportunities to push his HIT THE BRICKS button.

Did anybody else read that book about umpires that came out last year? I think it was called "As they see them". Anyway, I thought it sucked.

The new agreement actually has no retirement plan for the umpires. They would have noticed this if they used instant replay.

I should have used a picture of Eric Gregg to represent the chubby visage of the spectre of death.

Or to represent shitty umpires

Aw, I liked Eric Gregg.

As a person, I mean. Not as an umpire, obviously.

Keep up the golden Girls references. I would love to hear some St. Olaf stories.

What's wrong with 100 percent? Personally, I think they should be right 110 percent of the time and then there wouldn't be any of this crap about Steroids and Pete Rose. Oh, for just one clairvoyant umpire.... we could call him Rex Wenceslas, and he would keep all the fans warm in November and call World Series games all by himself.

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