The Major League Baseball Umpires Association announced they will be holding weekly Q&A sessions through their official Facebook page, beginning Sept 6.
Every Friday, fans can send their most difficult baseball-related questions via direct message. A group of umpires will then select their three favorite submissions and respond to them over the following week.
The NBA experimented with a similar concept during the 2018-19 playoffs, when referees responded to fans’ questions and comments on Twitter under the #RefWatchParty hashtag.
The weekly series will allow fans a unique opportunity to be more interactive with some of MLB’s most notable umpires. It’s a bright spot in what has otherwise been a 2019 season filled with plenty of scrutiny.
In addition to a plethora of questionable calls on the field, the MLBUA was subject to criticism following their harsh statement in regards to handing San Diego Padres infielder Manny Machado a one-game suspension earlier in June.
The MLBPA took to Twitter to condemn Machado’s actions after he was ejected by home-plate umpire Bill Welke, deploying 12 hashtags in a tweet — many of which came across as inappropriate.
The Los Angeles Dodgers, like many other teams, have had their fair share of issues with various umpires this season as well. Kenley Jansen’s Aug. 15 appearance against the Miami Marlins ended on a heated exchange with home-plate umpire Nic Lentz.
Jansen was upset that multiple baseballs were not rubbed with mud beforehand, though he later apologized to Lentz after the game.
Most recently, Justin Turner was involved in a dispute with home-plate umpire Rob Drake following a called strike three to end the game. Turner’s frustration stemmed from Drake informing him that the pitch from Padres closer Kirby Yates was right down the middle.
Turner was ultimately fined an undisclosed amount of money and levied a one-game suspension for making contact with Drake — which has since been appealed — and the 34-year-old has maintained that the umpire initiated contact first.