Last night, as the Bruise Bros. dropped two games to Crazy Train (yes, and they don't come out to "Crazy Train"--crazy, right?) and the Revolution (how narcissistic do you have to be?), I came to the fully qualified, undeniable truth that umpires suck.
I've seen and heard almost everything in my years in these city leagues, but last night was a new one for me. Missed calls happen. You almost plan on it happening. Assume you're going to get about two a game. Sometimes it's more and, miraculously, sometimes it's less. Last night, it was much more than less. First game was pretty cleanly called, but the second game reached a new level of ridiculousness and absurdity.
I step into the batters box and prepare for a pitch. In our league, you start with one ball and one strike. It makes the game go faster. First pitch crosses the plate a tad high. Umpire calls a strike. Disagree as I may, I usually will let one strike pass, but never a second. Second pitch crosses the plate at somewhere between my eyes and my chin. Umpire calls strike three. I mouth off to him in my disappointment and arrive back in the dugout to an entire team letting him hear it.
Second time I get up, he calls an obvious strike a ball and when I look back at him, he grins at me and begins laughing. Now, I realize that when you're getting paid in pinto to call games, it's probably not the first thing you're jumping to do on a Tuesday night, but if you show, it's our job to play the game and it's the umps job to call it and make sure it's a fair game for all participants. When I'm getting toyed with at the plate by an ump who is obviously taking pleasure in his jokery in, what was otherwise a close game against the only remaining undefeated team in the league, you bet I'm going to take objection. I shook my head and took a hack at the next pitch for a lazy base hit to left. In the end, we lost by six runs to the number one team in the league, the Revolution. Afterwards, the ump came by to visit with us. I just stood there idly as he approached.
"Hey, at least I was consistent."
I quickly replied, "You were consistently unpredictable. You didn't call a single pitch correctly all night. That pitch you called me out on was at my eyes."
"If it's close I'm going to call it."
"That wasn't close, bro. I'll tell you this, I don't look at two strikes. I swing at some junk so know that I won't strike out looking."
"I call those as strikes because I want you all to swing. It gets boring back there for me. I want ya'll to swing the bat."
After this jackassery, I've officially heard it all. The guy calls everything a strike so that we'll swing the bat because he gets bored. Guess I was wrong when I was thinking that he's out there to offer a service for us. It's the other way around, we're out there to entertain him and make sure he doesn't get bored. Had I known this term going into the game, I would've done a handstand or the arm dance. I didn't know it was our job to entertain him.
This begs the question, if he's going to call everything a strike, then what in the hell do we need him for? We'll call the pitches on our own, in that case and he can be a second field ump.
Let's get this straight, here. The field umps primary job is to make judgements of the pitches crossing the plate. The strike zone is typically represented by the width of the plate horizontally and about the belly button of the batter vertically. It's not law but it's a guide. For the ump, his job is to be the eyes that makes that call. Last night's strike zone was five feet wide and four feet tall. The only thing that was consistent with the rules of every other game was that if it hit the plate, it was an automatic ball. Everything else was fair game and the dumbass admitted it afterwards. Good job.
So, I've officially come to the conclusion that umpires suck. They either suck or they're your drinking buddy and you'll get calls that normally you wouldn't. The Roundhouse doesn't hang out with these pricks. So, they suck. What sucks even more is that with our fees that we pay the league, these guys get paid out of that. It's like paying someone five bucks to punch you in the face...every week.
In other news, the C's (on the shoulders of Paul Pierce) took a 3-2 lead over the Bulls in the third overtime game in the series' first five games. Sox lost their first game in 11 games. I'm tired and feeling slightly ill. Getting ready to go to work and spread it like wildfire.
That's a joke.