“Can you see the batters box chalk lines? I am having a hell of a time.” Photo: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports
**Disclaimer: All names, quotes, and most facts in this article are fictitious. This is for entertainment purposes only. If you take this too seriously, you will not like the article**
This weekend, the umpires were on full display in the Brewers series against the San Diego Padres. Refusing to review a close home run call, ejecting a manager for questioning a check swing, and finishing with one bad call to end a game, series, and rally. Each call coming on separate days, adds up to one impressive weekend for the Umpire Nation.
In order to get to the bottom of why one series was so full of blown and missed calls, I reached out to some very respected people in the community.
"We are a month into the season and no one has blown a no-hitter, misjudged a foul ball, or called a guy out because he just doesn’t like him. So far this season, the umpires have taken a back seat to the players and games themselves. That is not what we have worked so hard for over the past 15 years, we want to decide games…players be damned. It all comes down to lack of attention. No one is buying our medical records to check for HGH. Our wives and girlfriends aren’t making sex tapes. It makes us all look bad. So sometimes you need a few brave souls to step up and say “We are going to mess up this series”. Bless that brave crew in San Diego this week, they are angels. – Dale Winston, head of Umpires for local Little League…LeagueIt’s hard to pinpoint exactly where these things begin, but I think it is safe to say that someone was not hugged enough as a kid. Or maybe he was from San Diego and wanted to wake up in the morning and see the headline ‘Local Kid Does Good’. But the most likely reason, they wanted to see how many times they could toss Ron Roenicke in one series. Sadly for them, the record remains a tie. – My neighbor Rich, while mowing his lawnWhy have instant replay for home run calls, if no one intends on using it. That’s like my doctor giving me Viagra…just another useless pill. – My GrandmaCan a player be out if he never leaves the batters box? – My wife (this is an actual quote, and she is a real person…so is my Grandma)"
While you can argue that all 3 calls in questions were simply a matter of perspective, you can also argue that the moon landing was an intricate plot devised by the US Government to trick the Russians into believing that we beat them to the moon. Let’s take a quick look at each particular instance and what may have happened…
Situation – Carlos Gomez launches a hanging curveball down the left field line hitting the yellow stripe painted on the Western Metal Supply Co. building. Initially called a foul ball. Play was never reviewed.
What Might Have Happened – The home plate and 3rd base umpire were texting each other about how excited they were for “Pain and Gain” to come out. When they both looked up, the ball had changed trajectory (from hitting the building) and landed in the upper loge on the left field side. Based on the moment they did their job, there was no question that this was a foul ball. The problem is that everyone else saw the ball hit the yellow line.
What Really Happened – Home plate Ump has a key chain that says “Replay is for suckers, you’re the man in charge.” End of story.
Situation – Chase Headley was at bat and took a half-swing at a ball in the dirt. It appeared as if he went around, but both the home plate Ump and the 3rd base Ump felt differently. Ron Roenicke began to question the call from the top step of the dugout and was immediately tossed from the game. Headley eventually grounded out and Ron Roenicke went into the club house, smoked a cigar and watched re-runs of M*A*S*H.
What Might Have Happened – A tear in the space-time continuum, caused by solar flares, created a momentary lapse in vision from the 3rd base umpire. When questioned by Ron Roenicke, he remembered that Roenicke stole his girlfriend when they were in Jr. High, so he tossed him from the game.
What Really Happened – The Umps blew the call, knew it, didn’t care. Took a blood oath before the game that they would not take any lip from the calmest skipper in baseball, so they tossed him.
Situation – Runner on 2nd base, 2 outs, Martin Maldonado at the plate as the go-ahead run. Maldonado slaps a little dribbler in front of the plate that bounces back at him, clipping his shoulder as he attempts to flee the batters box. Without a moment’s hesitation, home plate Ump calls him out and ends the game.
What Might Have Happened – The home plate Umpire was scheduled to have an eye exam on Thursday for some depth perception issues and possibly some color blindness. So the white ball blended in to the bluish grey uniform Maldonado was wearing , along with the batters box lines which could not be discerned from the dirt of the ball field. Rather than admitting his possible Mr. Magoo-like affliction, he went with his gut.
What Really Happened – “We called a pretty clean game tonight…that can not stand. YOU’RE OUT!!!!”
Attention, fame, fortune…a ref seeks all of these things. But in today’s society it is much easier to get negative attention than positive. No one remembers the Ump who calls a season error free, they remember guys like Jim Joyce…who blew a perfect game in 2010. The Umpire crew from the Brewers v. Padres series were simply trying to get their piece of the pie…so that they could move on up, to that deluxe apartment in the sky.
And yes, I did end this article with the theme song from The Jeffersons. It seemed appropriate.