Saturday, July 19, 2008

Tiger Closer Agrees With My Umpires/Writers Don't Deserve Respect... Take Away the Umpires, Please!

Detroit Tiger closer, Todd Jones, who has a column in the Sporting News called Baseball Insider, The Closer, agrees with my thoughts entitled "Umpires and Writers Dont' Deserve the Respect they Get."

In the June 30, 2008 issue of the Sporting News, Jones has a few things to say about one writer in particular (SF Chronicle's Henry Schulman) in his piece The Write Stuff Can Sometimes Be All Wrong.

'The part of the game story written by Henry Schulman that caught our attention: "Adding to the wickedness was the fact that (Jonathan) Sanchez was beaten not by one of Detroit's high-salaried thumpers, but a .219-hitting scrub named Ryan Raburn." We (the Tigers) all kind of lost it when we read that Schulman had just called one of our teammates a scrub!'

Todd goes onto say: I can't think of anybody who has played in the major leagues who deserves to be called a scrub-not even Bob Uecker. He went on to write that Raburn hit his home run three-quarters of the way up the left field bleachers, which measures something like 425 feet.

Our skipper, Jim Leyland, was livid. We all were. Ryan just laughed it off- what else could he do? He'd just been humiliated by a guy he'd never met. He was embarrassed by a guy who has probably never played one thing in his life that was hard, or done something at which he wasn't good. Schulman, apparently, has always been the best at everything he has tried.

The comment angers me (Todd Jones) because of how tough this game is to play.

The truth is, we are all reminded every day of what we can't do. We can't run fast enough, throw hard enough, hit enough homers or do this or that. We get it. We have limitations, but we want to improve.

I've got thick skin-reporters don't bother me, for the most part. But a personal attack on a guy's ability or perceived place in this game is ENOUGH! This article is a shout to all players who have been singled out for what we cannot do. At least we're on the field.

...I'd much rather be a scrub than a guy who sits on the sideline and watches what happens, then writes about it.

Hey, Henry, how about next time you just report on the game. Call it as you see it and show the players on the field some respect. Use backup or utility player instead of scrub.

As for the umpires, I got to thinking about a couple of umpires in the San Francisco Saturday Softball League. Their names are Merle and Curtis.

Both approach their respective jobs as umpire seriously although Curtis doesn't do nearly the jabber-jawing that Merle does. In fact, Merle's fun-loving approach is oft-times mistaken for someone who is having the best ole time to be had at the yard when he just may be covering up the fact that he doesn't approve of the way a player is playing the game and he has said as much under his breath while I was catching.

A guy will be Cadillacing or Escalading it around the bases and then when that same guy takes the field he continues Cadillacing or Escalading after fly balls. Merle might mention how that isn't the way to play the game. That he hopes someone isn't on the bench while that guy is out in the field. And then in a half-hearted tone of voice, that might include a wink, he says, "You know I could squeeze the strike zone on that guy but I won't stoop to his level... But I could."

Curtis just calls 'em as he sees 'em and if you don't like it you'll be riding pine with a whiff on the records if you don't make adjustments. Curtis sees your body language and hears you whine and he'll remark too how that guy doesn't belong but because he isn't clowning the players (like Merle has a tendency to do) his all-business approach make his actions much more meaningful. He might be doing the "But I could.." but you just don't suspect such a thing.

I probably wouldn't suspect such a thing from Merle either until I heard him throw that out there, that in any circumstance You know I could and I just can't help but think that the silver fox just might have it in him. And quite frankly, if you do something to agitate the umpire you deserve what you get. As long as the ump isn't looking for trouble and these two old-timers (Curtis and Merle) most certainly aren't there looking for trouble. They are there to umpire a game they enjoy. They've got better things to do at a ballgame than to open the rabbit ears and be an over-officious jerk.

From my vantage point, I most certainly cannot say the same about the major league umpires.
Game in and game out their body language and bad attitudes lean toward the idea that they're looking to gain revenge on some punk ballplayer who tried to show them up. How dare you do to an umpire what he did to you! (Even if the ump may have did their best Leslie Nielsen impression on a called third strike or tag play that involved that same player.)

You see, in baseball, where the umpires are concerned there is a definite double standard. It's okay for the umpires to show you up and they'll go out of their way to do it AND they don't have a period where they have to go through a rookie initiation/hazing like the major leaguers do, especially on the receiving end of some questionable calls. (That part I don't get and never will, because I have yet to meet anyone who purchases a ticket to see those bums in blue.)

Judging by their bad body language, I am saying, that these bloated goats in blue tend to hold grudges, and don't for a moment think they forgive and forget. If you gave them a ration of dung one night and are involved in a tag play the following night you know I could comes to mind. I don't doubt it for one second. Only because the umps I spoke of (Curtis and Merle) aren't looking to 86 someone the way these major league bloated-goats-in-blue are and loving it.

Heck, if you aren't held accountable for anything you might have a tendency to stretch the rules a wee bit, eh? And really, what are they getting paid good money for and why are they treated like kings when the majority of 'em can't make a call to save their life. They are horrible on tag plays, have zero consistency when it's their turn to call balls and strikes and aren't paying attention to detail, which is what umpiring is essentially.

(In the Brewers at Giants game on July 20th, a ground ball was hit to the third baseman for the Brewers-Russell Branyan- and he skipped-to-my-lou over the bag but the ump, picking his ass at third just gave it to him. He clearly skipped (in baseball they refer to it as a crow hop) over the bag but the ump called the baserunner on second base out regardless of that fact. The umpire seemed a bit caught off guard when Giants' third-base coach Tim Flannery informed him that it's only a force if the fielder touches the bag. But as I say, he was picking his ass and missed the play due to prior obligations.

If the instant replay goes into effect, why not make it for every call? Let's use modern technologoy to turn baseball into the Jetsons!! Why not, the human element of the umpire has quite frankly become the inhumane act of unaccountable jerks. (Apologies to the maybe one guy per crew who asks for help and or admits he blew the call. I'm sorry you will have to do something else to make a living. Your cohorts spoiled a good thing.) Eliminate these guys from the game and baseball will be better for it. I can only wonder had they done this sooner, how many home runs hitters would not have had taken from them or extra pitches a pitcher would have to had thrown because a K-Zone type of contraption could provide for a more accurate and consistent strike zone than those unaccountable expletives currently assigned the arduous task of calling balls and strikes as described in the rulebook definitions.

In the words of Henny Youngman, sort of, Take Away the Umpires, Please!!!!!!!!!

Kevin Marquez