Given the overall tone of Madden's potshot piece, could Madden have some untoward knowledge regarding MLB Umpiring and an alleged restructuring of the staff—or is Madden twisting words and circumstances—for instance, Hunter Wendelstedt's extended absence in the wake of his father, Harry's passing following Hunter's 2011 head injury, Bruce Dreckman's extended absence due to a neck injury or even John Hirschbeck's recovery from cancer—to suit an underlying agenda?This summer, three of the consistently lowest rated umpires were quietly let go by MLB, not for their performance but for off-the-field personal issues. Another crew chief, I’m told, was allowed to go home after being involved in numerous blown calls and complaining that he just couldn’t take the pressure — but will reportedly be brought back next year to go through the minors as an evaluator!
Or could "quietly let go by MLB" really refer to an extended leave of absence that was approved? It has been reported that some umpires, such as Ed Rapuano, have suffered extended, chronic injuries that might suggest a journey into retirement, though at the time of this publication, nothing has been officially confirmed.
MLB Umpires who have not had a plate job since the beginning of September include:
Mike DiMuro (last plate: 8/12, NYY@TOR; high-profile missed call, Ejection 078: Mike DiMuro (2))
Ed Rapuno (Crew Chief; last plate: 5/30, PHI@NYM; officially out since 6/1 due to injury)
Brian Runge (last plate: 8/30, CHI@BAL; vacation?)
Tim Tschida (Crew Chief; last plate: 8/25, SD@AZ; vacation?)
Hunter Wendelstedt (last plate: 6/8, TOR@ATL; rumored/unconfirmed injury [broken ankle])
Dreckman and Hirschbeck have been sidelined the entire 2012 season due to injury/illness.
News: Hey MLB, learn from the NFL's referee debacle before baseball loses its integrity (NYDN)