C.B. Bucknor will not be working the World Series. Scheduled to work his first World Series as a major league umpire, Bucknor blew two calls in Game 1 of the American League Division Series. His poor performance, coupled with a number of embarrassing umpiring gaffes in this year's baseball playoffs caused the baseball powers-that-be to realign their umpire schedules for this week's Fall Classic. First-time umpires are out; seasoned veterans are in.
As frustrating as the umpires' calls have been to players and fans, just imagine the chaos that would ensure if the men in blue began visiting the mound between pitches to offer advice on pitch selection. Or if the umpires began meeting with managers before and during the game to dictate who the right-fielder should be in. Or if the umpires union met with the General Manager of each team to help set salaries for players based on their opinions as umpires. Everyone would ask: are the umpires officiating the rules or are they playing the game? Who is making what decisions and how? How does an umpire both officiate and play?
Someone needs to ask these same questions of the Obama administration when it comes to the activities of the Pay Czar, Kenneth Feinberg. Capitalism needs rules to be sure, but it is important to remember that capitalism functions best when the players play the game, and the umpires referee it. When the umpires begin to put their toe into the game, confusion reigns. Excessive government tinkering threatens to inhibit capitalism's ability to do what it does best:to create wealth and to lift the poor out of poverty.
Confusion reigns when players and managers are not sure of what the rules are anymore. They no longer understand their roles. Exactly what are the umpires doing, and what can a player or manager in the game do? Financial industry executives are left in this quandary right now. First, Washington bails out struggling financial players. Then, Washington does not clearly articulate what the expectations of that bailout will be, leaving the details for later in the urgency of “saving Wall Street and the economy.” Months later, the details emerge, the compensation at bailed-out companies is reduced, even capped, and leaders are left wondering what, if any, role they can or will play in the future of the companies they lead.