Rule 3.05 (b) states a pitcher inserted into the game must face at least one batter, unless unless injury or illness prevents him from doing so.
Fieldin Culbreth, in his first year as a MLB crew chief, allowed the second change to take place. He was suspended for two games for failing to enforce the rule. While Culbreth has a reputation for being one of the leagues' better umpires, I applaud MLB for taking action. He has umpired two World Series, something given as a reward to umpires for good work. Yes, I would have rather seen an umpire who has been known to have a history of poor job performance get the suspended, but the fact that the suspension was made public is a sign umpires are being held accountable for their mistakes.
The error in the Angels/ Astros game comes less than a week after Angel Hernandez and his crew made the incorrect call on an instant replay. A ball that Adam Rosales hit went over the fence but was ruled a double. The crew looked at the replay and though video evidence showed the ball went over the fence, the call was not reversed.
I have always been more in favor of umpire accountability than expanded instant replay. However, the umpires have the responsibility of at least knowing the rules. The fact that this part has been lacking is baffling. While judgement calls can be disputed, there is no excuse for non-interpretation of rules and failing to over-rule an obvious call with instant replay. These actions have almost changed my opinion on instant replay.
My philosophy has always been to treat the umpires like players and managers. If an umpire does not get the job done, they should replaced. Bad players eventually lose their jobs. Bad managers always lose their jobs. Why don't bad umpires? Since that will probably never happen, I now agree more responsibility should be taken away from them.
Just a recap of some of the umpires worst performances in 2013 in addition to the two before mentioned. Tom Hallion decided to bait Rays pitcher David Price, chasing him to the dugout using profanities. John Hirschbeck, with an unhappy Bryce Harper disgusted after a call third strike, chose to get in his face before ejecting him. Marty Foster helped Joe Nathan get his 300th save by calling strike three on a pitch way off the plate.
As much as MLB needs to see a better job out of its umpiring, I am compassionate towards guys like Culbreth and Jim Joyce, who made an honest mistake in the Armando Galarraga perfect game. Hopefully MLB takes care of a prima donna like Bob Davidson, who to my delight, was suspended last season for reoccurring improper conduct. Nobody comes to the ballpark to see the umpires. It is time to eliminate the ones who cannot get that through their thick skulls. Hopefully publicly announced suspensions will begin the progressive discipline these umpires deserve.