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Umpires, They're only human.

May 19, 2009 - Michael Palmer
Tournament time is here and once again you have to be concerned that in some of these games the umpiring is a determining factor in the outcome.

Your team has played a full season, through the frosty days of late March, the rain soaked fields of April and May. You have battled to earn a berth in the sectionals and there face off against teenagers from a different high school for the opportunity to move on.

The problem occurs when the umpire, unintentionally we would hope, has more than the intended impartial influence on the game.

In most of these games, the reporter and/or photographer is impartial, especially in cases where our paper covers both teams during the regular season. In other games, we can bounce our theories off of our counterparts that are covering the game for other media to determine if our doubts about an official are founded.

We are not talking about missing a call, that will happen, it is the human factor and if the umpire is in a good location to see the play, and with no ill intent, blows the call; that is part of the game of baseball. When all parties are in agreement that an umpire has squeezed a strike zone for one pitcher verses the opposing hurler on the mound or biased their calls in any lopsided fashion, that is a different situation.

When coaches pick up on this type of officiating we often believe that this is due to their prejudicial view of the game. They want to win and when things go wrong, they have a tendency to blame the umpires. When they are justified in their protests, that is a problem, especially in the tournaments.

I have the ability to review the play through the camera’s memory chip. The recorded images often tell clearly the real outcome and sometimes it is wrong. Example:

This photo is a tag that the umpire said was missed and the runner was called safe.

If the call was made by an impartial official, the mistake is acceptable, if it was biased by any other factor, then we have a problem.

 
 

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