Major League Baseball has fired umpire Brian Runge for failing drug tests, according to a report from the Associated Press. Runge had not umpired in the major leagues this season after suffering a knee injury last August, but did umpire AAA and Spring Training games.
Reportedly, Runge failed a minimum of one drug test, but reached a deal with MLB to stay on the active umpire roster provided that he followed a set of conditions laid out by the league. Runge apparently couldn't keep his end of the bargain, and lost his job as a result.
Runge was a MLB umpire since 1999, and worked two All-Star Games and three playoffs. He called Phil Humber's perfect game last season, as well as the combined Mariners no-hitter. Runge was also the third base umpire for Matt Cain's perfect game last season.
Runge is believed to be the first umpire that has been let go because of drug violations. He's the first umpire since 2000 to be replaced midseason. World Umpires Association president Joe West had no comment on the situation.
There are probably going to be a lot of jokes about more umpires being on drugs, but it's good to see that MLB has laid down the hammer on a situation like this. For as faulty as umpires can be sometimes, having a drug scandal break out would be far and away a worse epidemic than several blown calls. Nipping this in the bud right away was the right call.