(pt. I)

There was a bench-clearing brawl at last Monday’s PCL game between Fresno and Tacoma, yet another example, according to the Fresno Bee’s Bryant-Jon Anteola, of further problems surrounding the employment of replacement umpires. (link taken from Baseball Think Factory)

The Grizzlies have had at least one person ejected in three of their first 16 games. In all, three players and two coaches have been tossed.

“These guys have to remember, this isn’t high school or college where players aren’t allowed to talk to umps,” Grizzlies outfielder Todd Linden said. “I can talk to you and discuss a pitch in this league.”

Observers say the replacement umpires are overwhelmed by the speed of the game, don’t maintain consistency with their calls, are losing control and flow of the game, and are putting their safety at risk.

During a Grizzlies game at Tucson, the home-plate umpire was hit in the throat by a foul pitch.

“We appreciate those guys who are coming out to call our games, but we need our professional umpires back,” Las Vegas 51s manager Jerry Royster said. “There are things they’re missing, some more obvious than others.

“These guys are different,” Grizzlies outfielder Abraham Nunez said. “I don’t know where the strike zone is. They call balls strikes, and strikes balls. It gets in your head, so you swing at everything.”

Said Grizzlies pitcher Jeremy Accardo, who began the season in the majors with the San Francisco Giants: “The biggest thing I’ve noticed is they’re not aware of some of the movement of break pitches and where it’s crossing the plate.

“Compared to the majors, the strike zone here is wider but less consistent.”

In the Grizzlies’ game against the 51s on Wednesday, a fan reached over the left-field wall and caught the ball. The third-base umpire ruled a home run, though fan interference should have limited the hit to a double, managers from both teams said.

The Grizzlies still held on to win the game 3-2, but that doesn’t help the ERA of reliever Jeff Miller, who was charged with the homer.

On Tuesday, Grizzlies second baseman Kevin Frandsen appeared to turn an inning-ending double play. But the first-base umpire ruled the play dead because a ball had rolled out of the Fresno bullpen and into foul territory.

Turner disputed the call and was tossed from the game. Immediately after the manager’s ejection, Grizzlies pitcher Erick Threets served up an RBI double.

The PCL has tried to keep identity of replacement umpires secret. Ballpark and radio announcers are not allowed to identify the umpires as they would in past seasons.

In addition, the replacement umpires are not allowed to speak to the media.