As a kid I was a huge Washington Bullets fan to the point that I had Washington Bullets pajamas that I wore every night. When they changed the name to the Wizards it absolutely broke my heart; I still root for them, but not with the same fervor and for all intents and purposes I consider myself a Bullets fan to this day. However I took notice of some comments that Wizards’ head coach Randy Wittman made after the team’s loss on Wednesday to the Dallas Mavericks:
“For whatever reason, this team doesn’t get any respect. We go to the rim and had 11 free throws. These young guys just have to make a name for themselves, and it’s just baffling some of the things that are said to me by the refs for why they don’t call it.”
Wittman referenced the team’s 11 free throw opportunities, of which they made 1o. Dallas on the other hand went to the free throw line 33 times in the game, making 26. I’m sure that the NBA’s response to that would probably be that the Mavericks played a much cleaner game than the Wizards. However any sports fan with any amount of savoir faire knows that’s not the case. It’s similar to a football team being flagged 15 times in a game while the other team is only flagged 5 times. We all know that there can’t possibly be discrepancies to that effect, and the only rational explanation is that either officials are looking harder at one team, or worse yet there’s a lack of respect for a team (as is insinuated by Wittman).
No, this is not turning into a basketball column; Birds Watcher is still all about the Baltimore Orioles! However the Orioles are another team that over the years could argue they’ve been the victim of a “lack of respect” in a sense. However many times have we seen a pitch called a strike on Nick Markakis, only to see the same pitch in the same location awarded as a ball to an opposing player? Remember Mark Reynolds and Buck Showalter being ejected back in August against Detroit? (The part I still find ironic about that situation was that neither Buck Showalter or Mark Reynolds were suspended for their actions, which told me that the league felt the umpiring crew was out of line.) If you remember that game specifically, the play in question was also the culmination of several very questionable ball/strike calls involving Reynolds.
That’s a glaring example, however if you follow the link provided you’ll see a write up of that game which includes a video. The Detroit announcers are actually saying that they’ve never seen an umpire overrule the ump on the spot like that. I’m not sure that situation or any for that matter indicates a lack of respect. However the fact is that if you look throughout sports there do seem to be certain teams and certain players/coaches that never seem to have to complain about officiating. (And for the record I’m not suggesting that the Detroit Tigers are big beneficiaries of questionable calls or anything like that; that particular case was mismanaged by the umpires and the Orioles were the ones who suffered.)
Gary Williams would lead the ACC in technical fouls for years at a time during the 1990′s. Some would say it was the result of a temper problem; he would argue that it was due to officials’ calls being slanted in the opposite direction. A lack of respect might be a bit harsh of a term, however as I said…some teams never seem to have the need to complain. If he reads this column, I’m sure Randy Wittman would agree.