The Baltimore Orioles have had their share of mishaps involving umpires. All you need to do is look back to the 1996 ALCS against New York to know that. But even since then there’s been controversy in games – no different from any other team in any other sport.
If you’re a consumer of sports across-the-board as I am, you know that officiating seems to have deteriorated in all sports. I maintain that the worst is still college basketball. Anytime Coach A or Program A gets obvious preferential treatment over Coach or Program B, that’s a huge problem. But obviously on a daily basis we see #umpshow from any given fan base. It’s turned into a real problem.
Some people are starting to say that NFL games are becoming unwatchable. And you might have similar sentiments in baseball when an umpire decides to make himself the main attraction. In yesterday’s Dallas Cowboys vs. NY Jets game there were six consecutive plays on which officials threw flags. And they occurred at the end of the games. You know, when it’s thought that the refs aren’t going to call ticky-tack things.
And that right there might be one of the keys in terms of the crisis we see in sports when it comes to officials. There’s a total lack of situational awareness on the part of referees or umpires. If you’re an umpire it should be understood that you’re a “baseball guy.” Same is true with refs in football or basketball – you’re a “football/basketball guy.” That means it should stand to reason that you know the game and you understand how things ebb and flow in the game.
The majority of games across sports seem to come down to the wire nowadays. And that’s a good thing. However it also puts a larger emphasis on officials because they know in the backs of their heads that calls they make at key moments could affect the outcome of the game. If it’s blatant, absolutely it should be called. But if it’s borderline, is it really worth erring on the side of calling holding in an NFL game in the latter moments of the fourth quarter? Or a balk against a big league pitcher in the eighth or ninth inning?
Now one thing that we hear a lot in baseball is that if it’s a strike in the first inning it should be a strike in the ninth. And that should go without saying. But I’m not necessarily talking about balls and strikes. I’m talking of less tangible things such as holding or yes even balks. Ticky-tack things which can in fact turn games.
Under no circumstances am I suggesting that sports are fixed. I just think that certain people get more leeway to complain in some circles, and while others don’t. So what’s the solution? Beats the heck out of me!