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Pre-Closing Time: Welcome our new umpire overlords

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On Wednesday, the home plate umpire in the Pirates-Cubs game threw his shoulder into Carlos Zambrano(notes), resulting in a six-game suspension for the player, not the ump.

Only two men in sports get that call: Mark Carlson and LeBron James. No one else. It's rare that you can so blatantly initiate contact -- check the video at the 1:10 mark -- and the other guy gets punished. (Zambrano is no longer a two-start pitcher next week, so his fantasy owners are penalized, too).

On Thursday afternoon, another umpire delivered a dominant, highlight-reel performance. Todd Tichenor singlehandedly took over the Red Sox-Twins game in the seventh, ejecting both managers and both catchers. Well played, sir. 'Duk has details here.

These were Ron Gardenhire's thoughts, via

"I was going out to defend [Mike Redmond(notes)]. I couldn't get out there quick enough," Gardenhire said. "That's too quick to throw a guy out. ... He jumped up. He was yelling, 'I got him,' and [Tichenor] threw him out real quick."

Terry Francona simply said of Tichenor, "It looked like he had his hands full today."

Clearly we need to design a new generation of fantasy games that recognizes the contributions of umps. No matter what the Official Rules of Major League Baseball might say, most of us expect so much more from an umpire than "patience and good judgment." We're looking for random decisions, defended vociferously. Less self-control, more escalation. It's too late to add "ejections" as a category in the midseason game, but maybe for Fantasy Baseball '10.


Photo via AP Images

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