I have sat here the past month or so, trying to write this blog, but every time I started I could never really start it and carry through. I always thought, someone will ridicule it, or why waste my time calling out something everyone will just reject. But after watching officiating the past couple of weeks in the NFL and the horrible umping during the playoff stretch, I cannot help but finally get down to writing this blog.
About a month or so ago, when the Brewers started playing the Cubs in a 4 game series at home, I started noticing blatantly missed calls by the officiating crew. They were missing plays at the plate, they were obviously favoring the already heavy favorited Cubs, and it may have cost the Brewers a game or two.
That was the first time I started to question umpires, are they really getting that bad? And the answer is yes!
Over the past 5-10 years umpiring in baseball has gotten to a point I have never seen before. Umpires are throwing out managers for looking at them wrong, they are arguing with players and obviously trying to get a response from players. They are blowing calls, on purpose or not has not yet been discovered, but they are missing more and more calls. It got so bad this year they had to introduce instant replay. Hmmm...never has been a big problem before, why is instant replay needed NOW?!?! Well, because umpiring has gone down hill. And yes I know that a lot of the stadiums are harder to judge but still, there are 4 of you, dont you think the umpires can at least determine if the ball went over the wall??
I hate to continue to use the same examples, but since I watch more baseball over the course of the year, I will continue for the moment to rip umpires.
I recall a game at Washington where (I believe) Lastings Milledge hit a shot to deep center, the ball bounces off the wall and back onto the field. The umpires proceed to call it a homerun and will not reverse their call. Are you joking? Did you graduate from 5th grade math? If you have ever looked at a geometry book you would know its impossible for a ball to bounce off the stands and come straight back onto the field, it had to have hit the wall. If it was a homerun and the ball did hit the stands, the balls vertical height would have been a lot higher, but instead the ball jetted right back at the field at a 90 degree angle...any idiot could have called that.
I have also noticed umpires are trying to get into arguments more. Last year, at Houston, the Milwaukee Brewers first baseman, Prince Fielder, was walking away after a disputed call at home plate. Lets get this clear, Prince was walking away. The umpire followed him back to the dugout, violating the first rule of umping...stay where you are and do not antagonize the players. He disobeyed both, Prince heard what the umpire said to him as he went towards the dugout, turned, and got into a fight with the umpire. Fielder butted chests with the ump and you know what that means, suspension...dun dun dunnnnn...
That leads me to another point, why cant players or managers touch umpires. In an argument, its pretty hard not to touch the other guy. Lou Piniella gets a suspension for kicking dirt on a umps choses??? Give me a break...in the old days umps would take it, and give it right back, there were no suspensions, there were no fines. These are big boys, they can handle a fight. The manager makes his point, kicks some dirt, the ump wipes his shoe and we get back to the game. But now if you even chest bump an ump you risk a 5 game suspension.
I constantly hear announcers hear that umpires jobs are so tough and they are 99% right at all times. Well...I would dispute that. I would say they are right about 50-70 percent of the time, I mean they constantly blow calls, whether thats if a first baseman came off the bag to early..cough cough...Derek Lee. Or if its a disputed homerun...face it, umpires are wrong A LOT! And it is only getting worse.
Now onto football. I was watching the game of the Packers vs Vikings week 1, and was appauled at what I saw. Refs were calling holding when a defensive lineman wasnt able to get by the o-line. Have you ever heard of a good block? I remember one specifically, Chad Clifton blocked Jared Allen into the ground, the ump see's Allen fall and throws a flag. Reffing in general has become bad, there are more and more penalties that dont need to be called. I see holding penalties on corners if a receiver cant get off the line quickly, I see refs throw penalties if a defender makes a break to the ball but hits the WR...which by the way is completley legal, if both players are going for the ball it is fair game. But refs seem to have forgotten that rule.
Another thing that erks me is that if the crowd wants a call and begins to booo, you can almost guarantee one of the refs will throw a flag across the field even if its not his call. Essentially refs have become glorified cheerleaders for the home team. And I am just pissed.
My favorite ref, ED, was in some major controversey, and I had to be against him. Refs are just not making the right calls anymore and are playing to favorites. Refs are ruining the games, they think it is all about them, they think fans come to see them throw the flag and throw managers out. When really we come to see a game called fairly and lightly so we can see more of the game.
My suggestion, fire every ump and ref in the game and start all over. Teach the refs the real rules, educate them, dont let them be influenced by the crowd and teach them to let players get a little rough, let them hit a little more and hold a bit more. Call the blatant fouls and let the rest go, let the fans watch a good game.