Advertisement

 NEW YORK (AP) -Umpires are balking at baseball's attempt to widen background checks in the wake of the NBA's referee betting scandal.
In exchange for an agreement to allow credit checks, the World Umpires Association asked Major League Baseball to add a seventh umpire to each postseason crew. Negotiations broke down during a contentious meeting last week at baseball's headquarters.
``We strongly indicated the fact that were offended by the effort to trade economics against integrity,'' said Rob Manfred, baseball's executive vice president of labor relations.
After the NBA acknowledged last month that the FBI is investigating referee Tim Donaghy for betting on games, baseball officials reviewed how they monitor their umpires. The commissioner's office asked major and minor league umps to sign authorizations for the background checks, and both the major league union and the Association of Minor League Umpires told their members not to sign the forms.
``We are committed to fulfilling our obligation to maintain the integrity of the game, but Major League Baseball also has a responsibility to do what's in the best interest of the sport and its fans - and that is to not engage in knee-jerk, misguided witch hunts against the umpires without fair negotiations,'' the WUA said in a statement.
Management lawyers met Thursday with the new representatives of the WUA, who began work a day earlier and also represent NBA referees. WUA spokesman Lamell McMorris, citing the NBA's practice of having an extra referee at playoff games, said adding an additional umpire to each postseason crew would benefit the sport.
``MLB maintains that this is an economic issue, but its definition of what is economic and what is integrity is suspect,'' the WUA said.
Manfred said baseball's security department did background checks and monitored umpires on a regular basis but said that the sport needed consent to perform credit checks. He said MLB was willing to provide details to the union, a point McMorris disputed.
``As far as we can tell, they wanted an open-ended right to investigate the umpire's background,'' he said.
John Hirschbeck, president of the WUA, said he would let the union's new lawyers speak for the umps.
Brian Lam, the WUA's new general counsel, said in a letter Monday to Manfred that the union was concerned with the ``scope of information'' baseball wanted to gather along with the sources of information, who would have access, the frequency of checks and potential for discipline
Shaun Francis, a Double-A umpire who is president of the AMLU, was angry MLB went directly to minor league umps with the consent forms instead of contacting their union. Manfred said MLB had the right since those umps are employed by the Professional Baseball Umpire Corp., an arm of minor league baseball.
``If security of the game is truly what they're interested in, one of the things they should start doing is making sure minor league umpires are paid decently,'' Francis said. ``You create a system where guys aren't in debt for years. There's a potential for bad things there, not that I feel any of my guys would do anything.''

Top MLB Public Bets

MLB Top Stories

Thumbnail Giants aim to obliterate Rockies again San Francisco erupted for 19 hits in last night’s victory over Colorado. Will the West Coast crowd witness further offensive heroics...
Thumbnail Cards seek to build momentum against Reds Jhonny Peralta’s had a tough time since returning from the disabled list on June 7. Perhaps, though, he’s rediscovering that familiar power stroke when it matters...
Thumbnail Yanks keeping slim hopes alive vs. Red Sox Clay Buchholz proved his playoff bona fides in 2013. In order for the Red Sox to inflict some real damage this October, the righty may have to be equally...
Thumbnail Reds threatening Cardinals' playoff prospects The Cardinals have laid some absolutely clunkers at Busch Stadium this season. Nothing, however, compares to the embarrassment...
Thumbnail Indians vs. Tigers Prediction With the AL Central locked up, will the Cleveland Indians have a letdown tonight against the desperate Detroit Tigers at 7:10PM...
More inMLB Articles  

MLB Team Pages