[editor’s note: This is going to turn into a rant, so apologies for deviating from my normal style.]
I play in a wonderful softball league on a wonderful team. We have a good time and play to win (and also have fun). So do the other teams in the league (for the most part).
Tonight’s umpire was a true class act, a one of a kind man. A man in his 50s, sporting a pair of thick frames and a verizon wireless phone with a terrible ringtone, this ump had the worst attitude I’ve ever seen on the field, especially in what is frankly a beer league-type league. [editor’s note: I brought carrots and celery to the game today for my teammates. On average, more of these were consumed than beer.]
INSTANCE #1: He called our runner out at first. The first baseman from the other team was clearly off the bag and did not put the tag on. In a feat of incredible sportsmanship (for which we applauded), he told the ump that he definitely didn’t put the tag on. The ump called our runner out, and yelled at both teams not to make a farce of the game. [editor’s note: Nobody was. Trust me. It was intense.]
INSTANCE #2: Bags were slightly moved. People (both teams) were warming up on the field, because it’s a park in NYC and there’s nowhere else to warm up. Girl was wearing non-stud earrings. Commence Freakout by ump. None of us take the game seriously, nor do we come prepared! GOSH!
INSTANCE #3: Batter hits a grounder to short, who overthrows to first (common trend). Runner on second had held up on running, but began when overthrow was evident. Stopped at third, because the ball was then dead. We all yelled for him to come home, because he gets the extra base. Ump yells at us that we’re wrong. He then yells at our runner on third to go home. It was very confusing.
INSTANCE #4: A hit was made. The runner ran. During the next at bat, the ump let everyone know that the runner hadn’t touched the bag [editor’s note: He did.] and all the fielding team had to do was say so and there’d be an out. The fielding team’s pitcher announced that their team’s previous home run hitter didn’t touch second, but so what, none of this is in the spirit of the game. FARCE!!!
INSTANCE #5: Runner (who wasn’t running anywhere) moves (ever so) slightly off second base, probably to see the batter. Called out for leading.
INSTANCE #6 & #7: [both recurring] Ball is hit foul. Yell at everyone for miles to LEAVE IT. Next batter is up. Ask who is on deck, and who’s on double deck, because you CAN’T PLAY IF YOU’RE NOT READY. [editor’s note: It felt like boot camp]
Look, all and all, it’s always a good time. But Ump, why do you have to make it stink? We DO care about the game and playing by rules, but not to the point where both teams agree that you’re being an arrogant jerk with a superiority complex who has nothing better to do than look for violated technicalities or make them up if they’re not apparent. I would say I pity the man, because clearly this is something he cares about, but I don’t. Not even a little.
Does anyone ever really like an ump though?