Umpires Won’t Cooperate With MLB on Background Checks wire reports

WASHINGTON, Aug. 6, 2007 — Major League Baseball umpires said they won’t cooperate with an MLB-backed proposal to perform background of all major and minor league umpires.

Last week, MLB announced that it would immediately commence background investigations of all major league and minor league umpires to deal with the type of alleged wrongdoing that now confronts the National Basketball Association (NBA). Commissioner Bud Selig’s office steadfastly maintains that the background checks are necessary to uphold the “integrity” of baseball, and refuses to discuss with the World Umpires Association (WUA) any other matters that MLB unilaterally considers to be “economic” in nature.

“The umpires believe that the integrity of the game is paramount and understand the need for thorough security and personal background investigations in light of recent allegations of wrongdoing affecting the National Basketball Association,” Lamell McMorris, spokesman for the World Umpires Association (WUA), said in a statement. “However, the umpires have decided not to sanction the league’s decision to launch background investigations until they come back to the negotiating table to answer critical questions regarding the process and use of the information.”

WUA representatives met with Selig’s office on Thursday to discuss the proposed investigation and immediately decided to suspend cooperation until league officials take measures to ensure the safety of umpires and preserve the level of officiating during post-season play.

“We are committed to fulfilling our obligation to maintain the integrity of the game, but Major League Baseball also has a responsibility to do what’s in the best interest of the sport and its fans — and that is to not engage in knee-jerk, misguided witch hunts against the umpires without fair negotiations,” McMorris said. “The league hasn’t investigated the umpires in the past thirty years for good reason — our guys are of the highest ethical standing.”

As a result of MLB’s proposal, the Governing Board of the WUA has determined that, until further notice, its members will no longer cooperate with the league on any matter that is not contractually required, officials said.

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