It is a warm June evening and the local team is losing 20-2. The coaches are yelling at the umpire, “How can you call that pitch a ball?” “Call it both ways, Blue!” “Your strike zone is all over the place.”
Yes, we can be sure that a missed ball or strike call was an 18-run difference in that game. If it hadn’t been for a couple pitches here or there the home team would have surely won. For those of you who took “Sarcasm 101” in college and passed it with flying colors then you should be feeling a slight twinge about now.
I am mystified that a person standing 60-75 feet away at a 45-degree angle can see the ball going over the plate better than the man in blue standing three feet behind the plate crouching down to get the best angle possible to insure fair play and consistent calls for both teams.
Bob Uecker, long-time announcer for the Milwaukee Brewers and noted announcer of the movie “Major League” became famous for his one-liner of “He missed the tag.” Of course, Uecker was standing out in the far reaches of the center field stands complaining about a call involving a runner being tagged out at the plate. It would be comical if it weren’t so true in small town baseball fields all over this great country of ours.
Players feed off of coaches comments. Coaches feed off of parents comments. Parents feed off of whatever it takes to get the umpire to make calls in favor of their beloved young men.
That same coach that was yelling about balls and strikes in the 20-2 game soon began allowing his players to yell similar coaches to the umpires. All credibility was being destroyed for everyone involved out of personal frustration.
Not surprisingly, people from the winning team couldn’t come up with enough superlatives about how well the umpire did in calling the game. “That was some of the best game calling I have seen all year.” “Thanks for being fair and calling such a good game.”
For every happy fan, coach or player on one side of the stands there will also be a frustrated and angry one on the other side. I believe that is listed under the “Murphy’s Laws” at No. 136.
Umpires of all ages make the treks to the infield or behind the plate each game to do the best job that they can. Granted, there may be the rare umpire that goes into a game with the mindset that the home team is going to come out on top no matter what or that the visiting team is going to pull off a major upset but the reality of it is, those situations are VERY few and far between.
The next time you feel the urge to complain about a pitch or a tag at a base 75 feet away make sure you have 20/20 vision and the best view in the house. Otherwise, let the men and women in blue do the job that they love so much and enjoy another popcorn.