When I was in 8th grade playing for St. Philip Neri, I vividly remember an after practice speech by our head coach Mr. Liberatore. The game before, one of our players tried to argue balls and strikes with the ump. Obviously, the pleading fell on deaf ears; the guy was being a douche. To quote Mr. Liberatore’s wisdom, “Fellas, you never talk back to the umpire. He is infallible on the baseball field. When you have a question, you need to refer to him as Mr. Umpire or Blue.” Infallible. Yeah, also add stubborn asshole.
The most hated official in all of pro sports has to be the Major League Umpire. With subjective strike zones and pharaohesque immunity on all decisions, they are a group of individuals that sports fans love to hate. Especially with the multitude of bad calls this year, including the worst call in the history of bad timing, Umpires are going to be viewed under a microscope this offseason and winter meetings. The topic of conversation? Their relevance in the age of technology and 40 camera angles.
Let’s look at the past 2 Phils games. Monday night, 8th inning. Michael Bourn appears to be both tagged by Ryan Howard and wander outside the base path. 1b umpire calls him safe and refuses to ask for help from the home plate umpire. Manuel comes out and gets ejected after arguing for a good 5 minutes, mainly pointing out a huge divot created by Bourn as he tried to elude the tag which was clearly outside the base path. The guy stood their like a stubborn douche and wouldn’t change the call or even hear the argument. Bourn ended up being the winning run in a 3-2 loss. Last night, 3b umpire calls two strike appeals against Howard in the bottom of the 14th. Howard was probably guilty on both accounts, not going to argue that. However, the guy was pompous about it, mimicking Howard’s movements and provoking Howard’s frustration before ejecting him. Then he ran away from Howard before he could go medieval on his ass. There’s a word for people like him: Twerp. Phillies had to continue with Oswalt in Left Field and turned one of the best games of the season into a bizarre Phillies surrender in the 16th with Oswalt grounding out to 3rd.
These two incidents show the Major League umpire complex: I’m a great umpire who sees everything and anything right the first time. And if you try to gang up on me and make me look stupid, I’m not going to let you finish the game because I can so there. It’s like that loser in any argument who refuses to admit he’s wrong even when 3 people say he is and the conversation turns when he changes the subject by bringing up something completely embarrassing or irrelevant about you to get you to shut up. I think this Family guy clip is appropriate:
Fans hate when umpires get calls wrong, but they understand when it happens. Human error is prevalent and unavoidable. What really pisses people off is the double standard. How can they be wrong yet still be right as long as they don’t admit they are wrong? How does that make sense? Shouldn’t there be some sort of check and balance other than public opinion or do they enjoy being hated? Definitely within the next 3 years, there will be a huge push to weed out some of the longstanding, tenured, ego-maniacal umpires throughout mlb. They already have more enemies than friends and there will be an interest in experimenting with new technology. I mean why wouldn’t MLB want to better their product? It would speed up the game, no reason to argue with higher intelligence. Although, seeing uncle cholly try to explain how the technology works would be pretty hysterical.
And if MLB stays the course? Well, no game is perfect, but think of this. With a game that is so anal on stats and numbers, why wouldn’t they want to standardize balls and strikes? A strikeout would be a strikeout, a walk is clearly a walk. So what if it takes away the drama of the human element? We want the players to make plays, get hits, make pitches. Not have umpires make drama, the game has enough already. No reason for beat writers to waste time writing about bad calls and who got screwed. We already know the MLB has no sympathy for umpires anyways, so getting rid of them won’t be a huge deal. Search Eric Gregg and you’ll know what I’m talking about.
Until then, all we can do is sit around as we watch these jamokes make a combined effort in becoming obsolete. And all that while, we’ll want to give them our best Cameron impression.
PS- Is it just me or has Jimmy Johnson lost all dignity for himself?