By Rex Oâ€™Rourke
The Bronx, N.Y.
What in the name of Nestor Chylak Jr. is going on around here? Shane Victorino gets tossed from 300 feet in center field by the home plate ump? Pitchers getting tossed without out warning for throwing a little chin music? An Umpire fist bumping one teamâ€™s catcher after a win?
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Now donâ€™t get me wrong; a little color in the game is not a bad thing. 1970’s umpire Ron Luciano was fun to watch and a little personal style is O.K. A certain flair behind the plate is fine as well; it just seems that umpires are starting to think they are part of the story when they are supposed to be the arbiters of it.
No one enjoys a Lou Piniella flip out better than me; and a Billy Martin dirt kicking or Earl Weaver finger poke was shear heaven, but I think the umpiresâ€™ are initiating some of the arguments and their fuses have been getting a little short in recent years. I know that baseball is somewhat unique in how on field arguments are part of the game and I donâ€™t think (like hockey fights) they should necessarily change.
Perhaps itâ€™s Questech, or expansion of instant replay, or age thatâ€™s gotten the umps a little testy. Perhaps itâ€™s jealousy over how much jack a .238 hitter is raking in these days, but no one buys a ticket and asks; â€œWhoâ€™s umpiring today?â€ and if they do they need professional help.
A few years ago the NFL saw that some older referees just werenâ€™t keeping up so they got smart and put a few out to pasture. Perhaps a few golden parachutes would be in order.
For the vast majority of calls, I think the umps do an amazing job. Virtually every inning has a bang-bang play and I think they get it right 99% of the time. They really should be commended for the work they do. I just think itâ€™s time they backed off just a little and developed a little thicker skin. They should diffuse the arguments with comedy. A little â€œI know you are but what am I?â€ or â€œIâ€™m rubber and youâ€™re glue and everything you say bounces off me a sticks to you!â€ would go a long way. Bobby Cox would just LOVE that! How about just walking away or saying nothing until the manager talks himself out? I know that will probably never happen.
Canâ€™t we all just get along?
Until next week,
P.S. How about those Yanks!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!