A very quick post about umpires:
It must suck to be one.
There are many reasons why, including the awful uniforms, but here are the biggest:
– If you do a great job, nobody every knows who you are.
– You only gain notoriety by screwing up: see Joyce, Jim (for the perfect game screw up), Cuzzi, Phil (for poor calls in the playoffs a few years ago), or West, Joe (for ejecting players and managers from games seemingly at random).
– Making a call that you believe is right might put you in danger (see Upton, B.J. from yesterday’s game).
– There is no year-end public recognition. A quick Google search for “Umpire of the Year” return only references to cricket.
But the biggest reason of all has to do with this screen capture:
I have never had the chance to call balls and strikes, so I can’t say with 100% accuracy, but I would bet that it is hard. Trying to determine if an 89 mile-per-hour curve ball or a 98 MPH fast ball crossed the plate between the knees and chest in less than half a second sounds tough.
But now viewers can tell for certain when an ump
made a mistake. In that screen capture, the first pitch was clearly off the plate but called a strike. Pitch two was over the plate, closer than the first pitch, yet called a ball. Upsetting for Jays fans to be sure, but downright infuriating for pitcher Kyle Drabek who got the bad call and later gave up a sac fly.
So next time an ump makes a bad call remember one thing before you boo him:
He has a tough job.
Then boo him.