NEW YORK -- Umpires are complaining that Major League Baseball has been talking with their neighbors.
In the wake of the NBA's gambling scandal involving referee Tim Donaghy, the Commissioner's Office has stepped up monitoring of its umps.
"While we cannot stop Major League Baseball from questioning the umpires' neighbors and friends, we can tell them that they are under no legal or other obligation to speak with the investigators," World Umpires Association spokesman Lamell McMorris said Tuesday.
"In our view, it is a total invasion of privacy, and we strongly recommend that the neighbors and friends not answer any of these questions," he said.
MLB spokesman Rich Levin defended baseball's actions.
"We are conducting background checks that are consistent with the law, and these types of inquiries are part of the normal regimen," he said.
Baseball asked for umps to agree to credit checks, but the umps balked, wanting MLB to expand the size of postseason umpiring crews.
McMorris said baseball's security personnel have been out of line.
"We've received reports that some of these individuals have not properly identified themselves, have not thoroughly explained what they are doing, and have asked some very intrusive questions," he said.
Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.