News From Terre Haute, Indiana

June 13, 2013

RONN MOTT: Kill the Umpire!

Ronn Mott
Special to the Tribune-Star

---- — I don’t know who appointed Major League Baseball’s umpires “Gods,” but if they have been appointed “Gods,” they have appointed people who cannot see or think very well.

Next to the amount of broken bats I see in every game, the umpires’ attitude of “don’t breathe on me” is way too much. You don’t dare look cross-eyed at today’s umpire. They are riding on clouds above Mount Olympus and the mere mortals playing and directing the game are susceptible to being bounced out of the game by almost innocent acts.  

I know the umpires are human and I know they will make mistakes, but you can’t even yell at them anymore. If you say something from the bench you’re more than likely thrown out of the game. Even when the replay on the massive scoreboards shows the mistake, the umpire is correct. Umpires make wrong calls or decisions every day in baseball and at almost every ballpark. First of all, in spite of the fact it has been played since the late 19th Century as a professional sport, it has lagged behind its potential. It’s time the electronic age has joined the “Grand Old Game.”

I watched the helmet-hitting-the-ground situation with St. Louis Cardinals star Yadier Molina where he was mad at himself, not the decision of the first-base umpire calling him out. But the young umpire made a grievous error by throwing Molina out of the game. And to top it off, Major League Baseball reviewed the call and suspended Molina for a game. It may not mean anything in the long run in a baseball season, but it was just stupid.  

Baseball is overloaded with scandal. My God, you would think with all the previous performance-enhancing drug episodes and their published results, we would have enough of it. But now it looks as if even a bigger case of players using drugs to enhance their performances may be on the horizon. I have a couple of old recordings of “Casey at the Bat,” where the crowd is yelling, “Kill the umpire.” If they don’t get better calls, a consistent strike zone, and a cool head behind any decision before a player is thrown out, baseball may be on the verge of problems that have nothing to do with drugs.  

I remember in the movie “Bull Durham” Kevin Costner is telling the young pitcher about baseball. Costner said, “It’s a simple game … you throw the ball, you catch the ball, and you hit the ball.” Throw in some bad decisions from umpires and the simple game gets complicated. I find the 21st Century’s electronic age of everybody wanting to tell everybody on Twitter everything abhorring. Major League Baseball, however, better look to electronics to bail out the “holier than thou” umpires you can see every day or night, because they are not “holier than thou” and certainly not mistake-free.   

Ronn Mott, a longtime radio personality in Terre Haute, writes commentaries for the Tribune-Star. His pieces are published online Tuesday and Thursday on Tribstar.com, and in the print and online editions on Saturday.