After this year’s World Series, Major League Baseball decided to reconsider a long-standing (as in on the books since aught whenever of the last century) but potentially outdated-as-written rule known as “obstruction” that helped the Cardinals win game 4. It’s good to know that the game is willing to self-analyze a bit – like they did in 2008 when they finally agreed to include video reviews of disputed plays (OK, just home runs, and admittedly decades after football started using this approach to reconsider a disputed call, but it’s a start). Recently, MLB has also agreed to consider an expansion of their video review policy to include more options throughout the game.
So, while they’re in a rare updating mode, I have a recommendation for another mightily outdated practice that needs changing.
Using only men as umpires.
Women would very much like to be on the roster, considered right alongside their male counterparts as with any business today. And they have tried, to no avail, as covered in an August, 2011 piece by ESPNW. Yet, according to Baseball Nation, there’s never been a female major league umpire, and only six women have umpired in the affiliated minor leagues (meaning those leagues affiliated with Major League Baseball). Citing the aforementioned ESPNW story, they note that “the last female umpire in the affiliated minor leagues was Ria Cortesio, and she was fired by the Double-A Southern League in 2007. The first woman accepted into umpire school and given a shot in the minor leagues had to sue to gain that right.”
There’s no rule on the books stating only men can umpire (of course…), but Baseball Nation states that, in practice “Some older, more experienced umpires do not think women are capable, despite what the law says. Others hold women candidates to a higher standard. And others are simply resistant to any kind of change.”
Why? Do they think we’ll have trouble finding shoes to match the chest plate? We’re too emotional to stay objective? Or, perhaps, as was the case 70 years ago in corporate America, they feel threatened that allowing women into their ranks is a zero-sum proposition; women win, men lose. No matter what the hidden motive, the discrimination has become far too glaringly obvious to last much longer – that is, if we don’t let it continue.
Hey, we Boomers can certainly relate to age-related aversion to change, doing so only when pushed to a cliff, and even then changing as minimally as possible – Major League Baseball being just a tad older than us is no different. But we can also relate to equality, ending discrimination, and women’s capacity to successfully handle what had traditionally been a “man’s job” from CEO to the front lines in the military, because we started the movements that made all three a social norm today.
Let’s give MLB a big push to end a very outdated practice.