Tuesday, March 15, 2011
'Rebel' Rod's Ramblings and other things - It’s all part of baseball but….
By ‘Rebel’ Rod Ames
I traveled to Center Point today to watch the Ingram Varsity Baseball Warriors play a friendly little game of baseball against area rivals, the Center Point Varsity Baseball Pirates. In the end, it turned out to not be such a friendly game.
The Warriors didn’t bring their game and as a result of an inability to focus, committed error after error in the second inning, giving up a two-run lead and were never able to get themselves back into the game despite numerous base runners. As I said, they did not bring their game. I will leave the coaching to Coach Wolfe though. That is his field of expertise, not mine. Besides, that is not even the topic here.
The topic here is the fiasco the umpires and the fans allowed to take place. First off, the home plate umpire never established a strike zone. There would be a pitch where a strike was called. The next pitch would be in the exact same location and he would call a ball. He did this with both teams adding the ingredient of frustration to enter the game.
They never seemed focused either. There was one call where the batter clearly swung at a pitch as the catcher threw down to second for a pick-off attempt, and he didn’t call a strike. The Warriors had already buried themselves and now it appeared as if the umps were going to help pile it on. More frustration.
The coach rightfully ran up to the home plate ump to plead his case just as he is supposed to do. It is part of baseball. The home plate umpire asked for assistance from the other ump but he could neither confirm nor deny. So there are two umps, whose attention should have been on the batter at some point during the play, but neither could tell if the batter had swung the bat or not, so he was given a ball and eventually wound up on base. They were the only two who did not see the batter swing. More frustration.
They blew a call, an important call, but that happens. It’s also part of baseball. Thing is, most decent umps are going to make up for it later on somehow. Maybe call a ball on a close one or something. It’s more of an etiquette thing than a rule. It never happened. The frustration is now turning into anger.
There was bad call after bad call after bad call. It was as if these two individuals were exacting their own revenge on our guys, because the Warriors coach exercised his right to disagree on an obvious bad call. Again, it’s part of baseball, but they are to gain some control of the game. Instead, they continually threw gasoline on the fire.
These two men, whom I suspect are decent men, Fathers, Husbands, Brother, Sons, etc., instead of taking control of the game, pitched a wall-eyed fit and yelled at Coach Walters to get an administrator there to escort Coach Wolfe off the field (who was already half way to the bus by then). Coach Walters looked back at them in disbelief, his jaw very close to the ground, speechless. I looked over and there was a trooper or sheriff sitting with the Pirate’s fans. He got up and started over to the Warrior dugout.
Remember, this was over an argument between a coach and an umpire over a bad call. It’s something that happens all the time in baseball. I’ve seen it hundreds of times, and never have I seen a peace officer get involved. There was not a threat made, a punch thrown, an obscenity uttered. Yet now the law was somehow involved, and not only that, it appeared they summoned back-up, because about five minutes later, there was a Kerr County Sheriff there as well. Pass the gasoline please!
If I am to be totally objective, I have to say our fans, me included, did not help matters much. Yes, it was the ump’s total disregard for the rules of the game that began the fiasco. At some point, someone had to get things under control. No one did except Coach Wolfe, who had already been thrown out of the game for merely doing his job. He risked arrest (apparently) by walking over to the Warrior fans expressing his displeasure for our lack of restraint. We, the fans, had very quickly become a part of the problem.
“I made a mistake, let me take care of the umpires”, he said.
Then right after that, the umps only incited an already angry and rapidly out of control crowd by addressing a fan who had expressed their displeasure, after the tossing of the coach and our catcher, who had brought up his arm to protect himself from a tag by the Pirate’s catcher, to the face. The ump was convinced that the Warrior batter was going to hit the ball and the Pirate catcher's hand with his face I suppose.
Anyway, the fan responded with, “what a load of crap”.
The ump actually walked up to the individual and said, “I will not tolerate that kind of language here”.
We all, almost in unison, responded, “What language?”
He said, and this is no joke, “I clearly heard this person say c-r-a-p”!
Yes, he spelled the word out. I am not embellishing here one iota. This is exactly the way it all transpired.
We, the fans, should have been more constructive, and I suppose, more polite at our displeasure, but I have to ask this of the two men who umpired today’s baseball game. Have you ever watched a baseball game before and listened to the crowd?
Compared to some major league games I have attended today’s actions by the coach and the crowd was extremely mild.
Note to players – Ignore the fans. In the game I witnessed yesterday, the most mature people present were the players. They absolutely retained their dignity. They let the Coach Wolfe coach them, and as a result, never lost their cool. It could have gotten much worse and the players, on both teams did remarkably well. My only criticism would be to do what your coach says in preparation for a game. The night before a game, get home early and go to bed early. Get a good night’s rest and you will be more focused. It is scientifically proven. I’m not saying that was the problem. You guys are the only ones who will know that. Sometimes we just have bad games. This one is done, now let’s move on and start kicking some tail. I for one am very proud of every single one of you!
Note to Fans – We must exercise some restraint and realize that since the umps can’t directly retaliate at the fans, the only way they can “get back” at us (which they should never do) is to take it out on the players. It should never come to that, but we must realize that these people are out there, being paid yes, but not much, to call a game. If they do not bring thick skin there is the potential they can take it personal. We are not helping our players. That is our intention, but unfortunately, it will only make matters worse. We must try to behave. Perhaps if we start having some fun, the players can relax and have fun, and as a result, play better. A player out on the field, relaxed and having fun will always play better.
Note to umpires – the next time you call a game, bring some thicker skin, and for crying out loud, ignore the crowd. Remember, about 50% of the crowd is going to disagree with every call you make. It is not personal. It is disrespectful to the game of baseball to take it personal. So don’t!
Note to everybody – It’s baseball, lighten up and have fun!
Now then, for the blog-site only, since this site is "mostly" about music, let's listen to John Fogerty's "Centerfield" preceded by a clip from one of my favorite baseball films -