Saturday, April 27, 2013

St. Paul Saints will play an umpireless game

The St. Paul Saints have prided themselves on doing some of the wackiest promotions in the minor leagues. Their next promotion will probably wind up as the longest game played that wasn't an extra inning affair.

The Saints will play an exhibition game against the  Gary SouthShore Railcats. The catch to this game is that it will feature no umpires. That's right, they'll be playing an umpireless game.

The Saints “Umpireless Game” presented by Hamline University will take place on Saturday, May 11 in a game against the Gary SouthShore Railcats.  In this unique twist a judge in a robe will stand behind the pitcher’s mound calling ball and strikes strikes while a jury of both teams “peers” will act as the base umpires.  The Killebrew Box Seats, which are designated seating areas on the first and third base side at field level, will have 12 Little Leaguers in each area deciding if runners are safe or out.  There will be no hung jury, as majority will rule, but any ties will be decided by the judge on the field

 Instead of “Play Ball” hollered by an umpire, the judge will pound a gavel on home plate to signify the beginning of the game.  The players on the field will not be the only ones who will have a judge and jury preside over the proceedings.  Fans will have an opportunity to take their disputes to a “judge” that will be set up on the walkway in the main seating bowl of the stadium.

 While umpires have arbitrated games since 1876 there has never been a game void of umpires.  Networks use technology to define the strike zone and slo-mo instant replay is used to show viewers if runners are safe or out, but ultimately umpires have the final say.  The Saints and Hamline University are using the rules of the courtroom for one day to decide everything on the diamond.

“We respect all baseball umpires and believe this promotion will allow our ‘jurors’ and both teams to realize how important they really are to the game,” said Saints Executive Vice President/General Manager Derek Sharrer.  “This is something that has never been attempted before and I think it will make for an interesting and intriguing nine innings of baseball.”

This will be the first game that will not have umpires. If you ask me this game has the potential to turn out to be an adult sandlot game. I know it'll last longer than the norm unless the Saints know something I don't.

Wisconsin trying to schedule a game against LSU in Lambeau Field

The Wisconsin Badgers football team has caught a lot of flak for their non-conference schedule in past years. But you have to give some credit to athletic director Barry Alvarez as he tries to beef up the slate in the near future.

The Badgers have a date with Alabama in 2015 at Cowboys Stadium in Dallas. A report in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel says the Badgers are looking to add another SEC heavyweight to the schedule. Alvarez would like to add LSU to the schedule and play the game at Lambeau Field in Green Bay.

Justin Doherty, UW associate athletic director for external relations, declined to say whether UW is pursuing such a game.

"I don't have anything I can tell you," he said after the regularly scheduled athletic board meeting.

"It has come up from time to time and it is something that we are pursuing," said Aaron Popkey, the Green Bay Packers' director of public affairs. "But it hasn't gotten to the point where there is anything on the books or where we're ready to announce.

"We continue to look into it and will certainly explore those opportunities."

With the BCS going to a College Football Playoff, strength of schedule might be looked upon as criteria to being included in the four team derby. Seeing how everyone loves the SEC, it's in the best interest to schedule a game like this and win. Considering that we've seen two SEC teams battle it out for the national championship (2012) and a two loss SEC team (LSU) win it all. A one loss Big Ten team might get shafted, whereas a one loss SEC team gets the benefit of the doubt.

Knowing how the SEC operates the Tigers may want a home game or a game in the Superdome in return.

But give some credit to Alvarez for looking toward the future and trying to schedule games that matter when it comes down to choosing the teams for a playoff.