RETRO RELAPSE is a series of older articles from various places where I used to write before Talking Pulp.
*Written in 2015.
I hate baseball umpires more than the officials of any other sport. While baseball is and will always be my favorite sport, the men (and I use “men” lightly) that officiate the game are overly sensitive, power hungry, egomaniacal bitches.
Last night was just another example of this.
After what was perceived as a bad call, Torii Hunter of the Minnesota Twins started arguing with the umpire. He was actually fairly calm about it. But within just a few seconds, the home plate umpire lost his cool and ejected Hunter. He also immediately ejected Twins manager Paul Molitor who walked out to backup his player, as a manager does in these situations.
Hunter then lost his cool in a tantrum that saw him strip off his uniform and yell until he walked off the field in disgust.
Some people may think Hunter overreacted. I don’t, I think the umpire was a big bitch that needs to toughen up, grow some fucking balls and put his ego in check. Besides, if you eject a player for getting mad about a call, once he’s ejected, what is to then stop him from escalating his tirade? A fine? A suspension?
A guy like Hunter is a multimillionaire and he doesn’t care about some bullshit fine. He also probably doesn’t care about a suspension either, as the monetary hit isn’t going to come close to breaking him and he may benefit from a few days rest.
Rewind back to a few weeks ago. Bryce Harper of the Washington Nationals was ejected twice in one week under similar circumstances, although he was visibly more heated than Hunter. In a press conference following his second ejection, Harper hit the nail on the head when he said:
I don’t think 40,000 people came to watch him ump tonight. Plain and simple, I really don’t think they did. Especially when we’re playing the Yankees. The Yankees are a good team, we’re a good team and we’re rolling. I don’t want to get tossed. There’s no reason for me to get tossed in that situation. I don’t think I did anything bad to get tossed. Maybe he just had a bad morning or he didn’t get his coffee.
Bryce Harper is right, the fans didn’t buy a ticket to watch an umpire putting on a show.
The thing is, power is a fucked up thing. Some can handle it, some can’t. Umpires have always been cantankerous jerks throughout baseball’s century and a half of history. That doesn’t mean that they have to abuse their power. And it certainly doesn’t mean that Major League Baseball has to coddle their officials, as if they can do no wrong.
Look, I get that an umpire has a tough job and that there is a high level of stress in the position but if anything, that should make them relate to the pressure a Major League Baseball player is under. And more often than not, when a player gripes about a call, it is because the umpire didn’t just make a bad call once, he made several over multiple at-bats. Sure, some players have unjustifiably lost their shit but not as much as umpires have unjustifiably lost theirs.
These umpires remind me of the asshole cops out there who overstep their bounds and use their power and their badge to justify horrible behavior. Many think that they are above the law and thrive on that high. They have a god complex and anytime someone challenges that, they can toss them out of a game, just as a shitty cop can toss someone in jail (or worse) for expressing displeasure.
It has gotten to the point in baseball, where if you even question an official, you’re out of the game and that’s that.
While Major League Baseball is so focused on protecting the integrity of the game in every way it can, their attitude that the umpire is always right is foolhardy and ridiculous. People make mistakes, umpires are people. And many of these people don’t have great track records.
When an umpire, like the one last night, throws a player out of a game over nothing and then walks away, as other umps try and get the irate batter off of the field, that umpire looks like an overly sensitive bitch and someone with a severe ego problem.
In other sports, athletes get in referees faces all the time, more so than in baseball. How often do they get ejected from a game though? There is just something with these baseball umpires that needs to be checked and this is an example of the archaic culture surrounding Major League Baseball.
I also get that this is part of the sport and part of the show. But when it comes to the pure competition of what is happening on the field, shit like this is a distraction and hurts the essence of the game itself. This is baseball, a sport. This isn’t World Wrestling Entertainment. People aren’t paying to see the Authority screw over Daniel Bryan day after day. What happens within the confines of the contest itself is the story that should be told. The umpires aren’t the stars, nor should they be, and their overreactions make baseball look like an episode of Jerry Springer.
Now I’m not calling for umpires to be replaced with computers, as some have suggested, but something needs to be done. I’m also not saying that all umpires are egomaniacal bitches but there are certainly many who fit the bill. Maybe they need psychological evaluations on a regular basis.
And sure, the sport has always been this way but it does seem as if the tolerance of umpires is at an all-time low.
Then again, maybe they are just rejected wannabe ballplayers that never amounted to anything and this is their way of getting revenge. Kind of like the bullied kid in high school who goes on to become successful, only to use his success to punish those who wronged him. Even though those being punished aren’t the same people who wronged him.
Is this situation fixable? Yes. Will it be fixed? No. And that folks, is baseball.