Scouting the personal lives of umpires

The Toronto Blue Jays may be the forerunners of a new trend: including personal information in the scouting of umpires and officials by sports teams. Here is the rationale behind the gathering of personal information:

It’s not meant to curry favor or influence calls but rather to humanize the umpires. In fact, veteran Toronto catcher John Buck, who says he had already gotten to know most of them during his six seasons with the Royals, says he makes a conscious effort to be personable but professional with the umpires…

Of course, what’s most pertinent is the research on each umpire’s tendencies. One such report included a head shot, a short bio with age, education and hometown, and the strike-zone traits for each umpire working a particular series.

I could see this catching on – as the Blue Jays suggest, this is an information age and it would be easy to compile reports about all officials.

However, baseball umpires have always held positions very distinct from players and coaches. How would they respond to these efforts by teams to humanize them? For officials in all sports, couldn’t this humanization be seen as a threat to their partiality?

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