Yesterday I wrote about officials shafting one team or another during games. First off, I forgot to mention that bad calls just happen sometimes. I’m willing to accept some of that given that there’s a human element to every sport. It’s when they happen consistently and seemingly to the same team that I start questioning things. The example given from yesterday was the Washington Wizards going to the free throw line only 11 times in a game while Dallas paid 33 trips to the charity stripe. That’s a pretty large discrepancy. Anyone that watched that game (as I did) also saw that the Wizards should have gone to the line more often, but the refs swallowed their whistles.
Baseball’s a bit unique in that it allows coaches and players to openly question calls on the field. Each sport “allows” this to a certain point, however in baseball it’s much more conspicuous. Games come to a halt when a manager leaves his dugout to argue with an umpire, and everyone see a very public argument. You might argue the same in college basketball, but it’s still not as “public” as in baseball. In football coaches work the refs the entire game, but it’s not something that the general public can see or that they pay attention to.
I’ve seen Baltimore Orioles managers that were a bit over-the-top in arguing calls (ie-Earl Weaver), and I’ve seen managers that were just the opposite such as Sam Perlozzo and Dave Trembley. All managers argue calls at some point, however some are much more demonstrative than others. As bad as some calls were in 2012, I feel that the level of umpiring has improved for the Orioles over the past few years. To go back to the respect factor from yesterday, that might be due to the fact that a well-respected manager is sitting in the dugout in Baltimore now. Or could it be that, and…the fact that he sticks up for his team on occasion?
I have no doubt that when the Earl of Baltimore patrolled the dugout umpires probably would see the Orioles on their schedule at the beginning of the season and that “oh, great.” However the vinegar with which Weaver would argue poor calls probably inspired guys to make sure they were calling the games right to a certain extent. To be fair, Weaver never wanted the calls to “go his way,” he wanted a fairly called game. If he saw something wrong, he’d go out and loudly let the guy know about it.
In contrast, it took a really horrible call to get someone like Dave Trembley out of the dugout. It was known to happen in some circumstances, as evidenced by this video. (For the record, Trembley’s reaction seems to indicate that the umpire said he awarded a close call the other way because he didn’t feel the Oriole was hustling on the base paths. That kind of remark will generally get a coach pretty fired up.) You hear Trembley’s comment about “I don’t say nothing.” A lot of coaches feel that just allowing the game to unfold without yelling at the officials will buy them good favor with those officials. I’m not so sure…
…it anything I wonder if baseball umpires don’t respect a coach who doesn’t argue just a little less. In a way, it could potentially indicate that the coach himself doesn’t care what happens in the game. Say what you want about Dave Trembley’s ability as a big league manager, but at the very least I know that he cared. He cared BIG TIME what went on in the games. But perhaps by just allowing a poor call to go unspoken a skipper conveys a lazy message to an umpire. So is it not possible that the umpires figure “if he’s not really caring about his job, why should I?”
In no way am I suggesting that umpires tank calls on purpose one way or the other. I don’t feel that’s the case in the least, because I believe that in general most people want to do a good job at whatever they’re doing. However on close plays, perhaps that ump is more likely to sub-consciously rule in favor of a manager that he knows will stick up for himself. It’s kind of a reverse-psychology type of theory, however I would hope that most people can at least see the rationale behind it.
Nobody’s more critical of refs and umpires as I am, however in fairness they get more calls right than they get wrong. If an umpire in a football game throws four flags for holding in a game and one of them is a bum call, he still got three of those correct. However the difference is that it’s the one poor call that will be remembered. This is all reasoning why I’m in favor of instant replay in all sports. Why not give these guys the proper tools they need in order to do their jobs better?