MLB to Replace Umpires with Mascots for Shortened 2020 Season, “Just ‘Cuz”
Whatever it takes to bring baseball back.
As reported by Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic, the MLB has sent a proposal to team owners and players which, if agreed to, would mean that baseball may return as early as July. The new plan addresses the timeline for an unprecedented pandemic-shortened season with no fans in attendance, expanded rosters in case any players test positive and have to self isolate, and the decision to replace any and all umpires with mascots for the 2020 season. While the full report has not yet been released to the media, the “Umpire Switcheroo,” as it is being called by the league, has left fans and analysts around the globe scratching their heads.
Here’s what we know so far: If this plan is agreed to, all current major and minor league mascots must begin a rigorous 2-week umpiring crash course and will be tested to prove that they can perform the duties of an umpire while also keeping the players and the fans at home entertained. All current umpires can choose to enroll in a 5-week mascot crash course or lose their jobs. At the Mascot Academy, they will take workshops on messing with players, t-shirt gun control, and dancing with your pelvis.
In an impromptu press conference following the partial leaks of the plan, MLB Commissioner and noted chickenshit Rob Manfred fielded questions from the media, and nearly all pertained to the Umpire Switcheroo. A reporter from Sports Illustrated started the line of questioning, asking Manfred for the thought process and logic that led the league to that decision. Manfred replied “There wasn’t really a thought process behind it. We were making this plan in a Google Doc and someone threw it in there, and we decided to keep it in just ‘cuz.”
A journalist from Bleacher Report then followed up, trying to clarify that this decision was made in order to provide more effective PPE to on-field personnel in terms of mascot head and costume, or in order to grow the game and attract a younger generation of fans. At this point, Manfred turned around to other league officials standing behind him and loudly whispered “Oh man, we didn’t even think of that stuff” before turning back to the press and saying “Uh, yeah, actually, um, what he said.”
Another reporter then asked why the league was moving away from earlier plans which involved an electronic strike zone, or “robot umpires.” Manfred was clearly ready for this question, quickly retorting “Look, I am more committed than anyone to preserving the great tradition and history of Major League Baseball, and robots are not the history of Major League Baseball, mascots are. And that’s just science.” Everyone in the room could tell that Manfred was at his breaking point.
Then, a “reporter” who was clearly just umpire, Joe West in a wig and sunglasses asked if this plan will continue past 2020 once everything is more or less back to normal. Manfred loudly groaned and banged his head on his podium before snipping “If it works, then maybe. I dunno. I just thought it would be fun. Fuck me, I guess” and quickly exiting the stage, abruptly ending the press conference.
While this press conference may have left more questions than it answered, it shows just how committed the MLB is to getting live baseball back on the field and on our TV screens. Personally, I would give anything to have baseball back, even if that means balls and strikes are going to be called by a 19-year-old theatre student who can’t see out of the eye holes in his mask.
-A Well Mannered Grump