3 years ago5,000+ Views
There are few things my dad actually loves. One of them is baseball: America's pass time. It's a classic sport that I grew to love as a kid, because well..I couldn't help it. My dad made me memorize the classic Yankees line-up, watch games, and follow teams I could barely pronounce. Little know?
Anyway, dad has always loved baseball. It's one of his passions. His passion extends to every facet of the sport...including the officiating of it.
As always, Dad's grumpiest moments are in bold. Welcome to another edition of Grumpy Monday!
I worked for 30 years in a profession that required accuracy above all else. When you’re reporting news (at least when I was reporting news) mistakes are not permitted. Mistakes damage reputations. Mistakes lead to lawsuits. Lawsuits get you fired. Employers hate it when their lawyers have to work. Win, lose or draw, lawsuits cost money—and they are often a ticket to the unemployment line. I spent decades being careful. I spent decades worrying that I would someday make a critical error that would cost me my career. I was a fool.
Tess' Note: It's no secret that dad's a journalist, always was and always will be. I think that's where I get this insatiable need to quantify my generation. Thanks dad.
With my background in baseball (All State, Michigan, 1975; Division I starter, Western Michigan University, 1977-80), I should have gone straight to umpire school. I’d have made it to the Major Leagues by age 30. Once there, I’d have been protected by one of the most powerful unions in the world. Mistakes? Why, they’re just part of the game! Everybody makes mistakes. Baseball is a game of failure. Right? If you fail only 70 percent of the time over a long career as a position player, they’ll put you in the Hall of Fame!
Now, after years of watching the National Football League correct the mistakes of its referees through the use of instant replay, Major League Baseball is doing the same. Thank goodness! Can you imagine how many years would have been added to the lives of Casey Stengel, Earl Weaver, Billy Martin and other Major League Baseball managers if they hadn’t been forced to throw hundreds of temper tantrums over blown calls by umpires?
Personally, I’m not surprised that replay has turned out to be a major source of embarrassment for big league umpires. It’s a rare game that doesn’t include at least one overturned call. That’s not so bad, you say? Well, consider that most games have only two or three calls that are close enough to be missed. If half or more of the close calls are missed, then that is not just bad; it’s very bad.
Take a look at a photo from Sunday night’s game between the Pirates and Cubs. Look at the umpire’s position. Look at his face. He is right on top of the play, yet he calls the runner “safe.” The Pirates’ shortstop immediately signals to his manager that he tagged the runner well before his foot reached second base on the attempted steal. The replay showed that despite the umpire’s perfect positioning, he missed the call.
In the old days, the manager would have raced onto the field screaming at the umpire at insisting that the call be overturned—which NEVER happened. He’d get himself ejected by questioning the umpire’s eyesight or ancestry. He’d be fined or suspended—all because the umpire made a mistake.
Tess' Note: Dad subscribes to old-school baseball, it's the hunt or be hunted, fight or get hit mentality of the game. Always with class, but never without justice.
Sunday night, the manager politely requested a video review of the play. Within a minute or so, the second base umpire was publicly embarrassed, his call overturned. It was all very vanilla, very civil—except that it was another in a long, long list of examples of incompetence. In my profession, heads would roll after an equivalent mistake. In Major League Baseball, it’s just part of the game. No consequences.
The same is true in the National Football League, whose officials had been so consistently incompetent that video replay was determined to be an absolute necessity in 1986. Since then, thousands of awful calls have been overturned, proving that all those coaches who ran up and down the sidelines screaming bloody murder and throwing their headsets to the ground in disgust hadn’t been so crazy after all.
In a photo from Sunday night’s game in Detroit, you see the Denver receiver is not on the ground, but actually lying on top of the Detroit defender when he fumbles the ball. The official on top of the play blew his whistle, ruling that the Denver player was down before the fumble. Instant replay clearly showed he was not. The call was overturned. This official wasn’t just blind, he was hallucinating. He claimed to have seen something that didn’t actually happen.
In the next photo, the official ruled that the Denver player had made a clean catch on the sideline. The video review revealed that he had juggled the ball. The call was overturned.

Are these officials fined or otherwise disciplined for their mistakes? The answer is an emphatic NO. In fact, professional officiating is the only line of work which has virtually no consequences for being inaccurate a high percentage of the time.

Tess' Note: My wouldn't that be a go to work without any expectation of doing the right thing, to have no consequences. Maybe I should go into officiating sporting events too. Damn.
I could have saved myself a lot of aggravation by becoming an umpire or a referee. Of course,

I would have been shunned by my colleagues because of my ability to make accurate calls. No one likes a show off.

Dad's been known to pop off on an umpire or two whether they're on the TV or officiating one of my brother's games. This is a topic he's not going to budge on, another angry yet accurate sports commentary on Grumpy Monday.

Sports fans: What do you think of officials? Are their mistakes worth fining or worse (firing?) You be the judge.

Join us again next week for another grumpy tale, and don't forget to follow the collection written by my dad the Grumpy old man himself: @MattStevens
@TessStevens Tess I enjoyed your story. there's a movie, one of my favorite baseball movies, named "Kill the Umpire" starting William Bendix. it's just a silly old fun movie that All real BB fans will relate to. Please- - find it and spend a couple of hours with dad watching it - I guaranty neither of you will regret it. :)
This would also allow more accuracy on calls and keep the excitement of the game haha. I agree we def need those moments when we can totally shit on the umpires!
Well officials are bound to make mistakes and I'm glad the MLB allows challenges and video reviews. Umpires def do not want to make mistakes but when they have to make a decision in matter of seconds, everyone's going to make a mistake once in awhile. However, the MLB review system makes the game less interesting in the fact that they allow coaches to check with someone who has access to video replays before making any challenges. Thus, I think they should have a new rule saying managers need to challenge in like 30 seconds of the play or something. They shouldn't challenge a play after reviewing the play on their own. Now that's making baseball less exciting.
@InPlainSight yeah...I guess my dad's years of observing and looking at sports way too long has made him form such an opinion hahah. Although in journalism, when a story is breaking or trending there's very little time to prepare, that's where speed and accuracy come in. Those who are the best get the job done thoroughly and effectively without wasting a whole bunch of time. And yes, the questioning is a part of the game. My dad's got that down! hahahah and everyone loves to hate on the referees and umpires. It's our job! lol @mchlyang @buddyesd what do you guys think of this?
Like Grumpy Dad, I love my sports, my preferences would be cricket and soccer over baseball and your version of football (why you stole the name we use for soccer when you rarely use your feet in 'American' football is another conversation for another day) While I understand the analogies, I think journalism and sport hold very different consequences when errors are made. Journalistic errors can cost reputations, or taint criminal trials, sporting umpire errors more often than not won't. Journalists have weeks or months to check and verify their facts in some cases, again, sporting officials don't. That aside - I come to the question, do I want sporting officials to make the right call every time, and as sad as it is to say, I don't think I's why.... One, sport should be quick and flowing, and a test of fitness, not stopping every few minutes for an official to check video footage to reverse a bad call. Secondly, I figure, over time, the bad calls kinda average out, sometimes they go your way, others not so much. Thirdly, and mosy importantly for me, losing your shit at an official for making the wrong call, questioning their eyesight, their parenthood, or even their humanity is part of watching the game. It's those moments that get people talking, get their passion for the sport, and the team they love flowing harder than ever. I remember growing up, going to soccer games, nothing got the crowd behind my team more than a bad refereeing call going against them, and those were the moments I remember the most.