Blaming The Umpires!

Umpires and the decisions they make during a ballgame are becoming far more scrutinized by players and coaches these days. Often when I have asked a player or coach to recall the events of a particular game, the first event mentioned is an umpire’s blown call.

I’m sure if you have been involved with the game long enough, you will have a number of things that get under your skin. Here are a few of mine:

  • No player is expected to have a batting average or of 1.000, an era of 0.00, or a fielding percentage of 100%. So why are umpires held to a different set of standards?
  • When an umpire misses a strike call that the pitcher desperately wanted on the mound, the yelling, screaming, and scalding begins. However, when the pitcher proceeds to leave the next pitch in the middle of the plate only to see it get crushed, the blame is again placed on the umpire’s shoulders. Argue all you want, but that non-strike call did not change the entire at bat. It just isn’t acceptable to blame an umpire for the pitch that landed in the catcher’s glove and not the one that landed in the bleachers.
  • Foul language should never be tolerated. When a player uses bad language, he chalks it up to “the heat of the competition.” Why can’t the umpire use the same inappropriate language toward a player or a coach? Keep it clean and show some respect for the officials, as they continue to show respect for you. They might not be right, but a bad call does not have to become personal.

When you make the umpire the focus of your short comings on the field, you neglect the areas of your game that could have been better. Hiding behind the decisions of the umpire only hurt the player.

When frustration sets in on the field, there are several ways to demonstrate this without being a bad sport or disrespectful:

  • Never tell the umpire “you missed that call!” Rather say “I think you missed that” or “are you sure about that location?” The umpire knows you disagree with the decision though no power trip has taken place.
  • Catchers, when questioning a pitch, don’t turn around to speak to the umpire. There is no need for everyone to know you are potentially disagreeing with the umpire. Keep it between the pair of you and you will maintain the respect of any umpire.
  • At some stage, everyone will lose their cool on the field. I have never been a fan of publicly humiliating an umpire and apologizing for it later in the locker room. If you publicly attack the umpire, you better publicly apologize.
  • Asking an umpire location on every other pitch doesn’t help you as a hitter. All you are doing is demonstrating that you don’t understand the strike zone. When you get rung up on a pitch, your argument falls on deaf ears.
  • Leave the arguments to the coaching staff. Period!

As a player and coach, I still maintain that umpires should practice their craft more than they actually do. But the same can be said for the majority of players. It is a real problem in New South Wales that the average age of our umpires is continually increasing.  With all the negative comments and critiques our umpires are facing, young players are not enthusiastic about exploring the possibility of umpiring. And those who do, certainly don’t strive to climb the ladder as they face harsher abuse and criticism. Many players also want to head overseas to further their playing careers. The same cannot be said for umpires and the reason is simple, they just are not pushed to do so. What incentive is there to do it? The odds of cracking into professional baseball are so low and with no college handing out scholarships for umpires, what’s the point? Pushing officials through the college system though scholarship programs would be a fantastic way to educate players and umpires.

Remember, always be respectful of the umpires, no matter how good or bad you believe they are. You must remember, you are never as good as you think, and you are never as bad as what someone tells you. View the umpires and officials in the same light. The game ultimately is not dictated by the officials. Take responsibility for your own failures and successes.

2 Comments on “Blaming The Umpires!

  1. Spot on Craig – no umpire no game. They don’t always get it right but neither do coaches and players. I’ve seen too many people give up umpiring after one game because of know-it-all players, coaches and spectators who know better but never put their hand up. It dose not grow our sport. Every game is a learning curve for every person involved in it. – player, coach and official.

  2. I agree David. For eg; When a short stop boots a routine ground ball in most cases people encourage the infielder. When an umpire misses a call it is a different reaction entirely.

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