Interesting look in the Hardball Times at the effect of scab umps in the minors. Apparently, the replacement umpires, tabbed from local amateur leagues, are indeed biased toward home teams. Minor league managers have complained all year about the umps, but this seems to document that visiting batters are getting shorted at the plate. For example, in the Pacific Coast League, home team batters have a K/BB ratio of 1.82 while visiting batters have a K/BB ratio of 2.50.
The question then becomes how should this ump-effect be considered when evalutating players, if at all? And if the umpire strike continues the whole season, does this essentially taint a year's worth of minor league stats?
This would seem to be a good spot for Bud Selig to wield his weight, to whatever degree he can. I'm not sure just exactly what the MLB Commissioner can do (maybe not much) in a battle between the Association of Minor League Umpires and the Professional Baseball Umpire Corporation, but he can at least put pressure on the both sides, or at least the umps, who voted down a proposal their own negotiators recommended unanimously they should accept.
Nod to Salon's King Kaufman blog.
Oh, and for the best scab-ump debacle, and the hilarious play-by-play from a highly enraged local radio guy, listen to the the May 3 Oklahoma RedHawks vs. Round Rock Express radio link. Fast forward to about 1 hour, 48 minutes and listen to the highjinks ensue.
Nod to USSMariner for that.