Referee a basketball game and you will quickly learn just how easy it is to miss a travel, or a slap on the elbow during on shot in the lane. Try to call a ball or strike and you will quickly learn that it’s easy to miss one. Or five. Watch a football game and try to see how many holding penalties you miss.
When I was in college I grabbed some part-time work to referee youth sporting events at the Sunflower State games in Kansas and quickly realized I would rather remove garbage from sporting events, which I once did briefly during a summer, than to referee a sporting event.
The coaches yell at you because God failed to give you eyes in the back, and sides, of your head. The players give you dirty looks because you can’t see everything. And when the game starts all you want to do is scream, “Slow down! I can’t see everything!”
And when the game is over you merely pray no one says anything to you about the job you just performed. A “job well done” for an ump is a no-comment from fans, players, coaches, or, even worse, sports writers. Those people are the worst.
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Here endeth my compassion for this profession, and the many professionals who willingly do this task on countless levels all over the globe. We all want to be liked and for people to know our names, but in the case of the umpire, or referee, the best ones are nameless.
So, here you go, Gerry Davis. You wanted people to know your name — well done.
Davis is the umpire who ejected Texas Rangers’ third baseman Adrian Beltre on Wednesday night in the eighth inning of a blowout loss against the Miami Marlins.
Davis told Beltre to stand closer to the batting circle; Beltre picked up the batting circle and moved it closer to him. Davis clearly thought Beltre was showing him up, so he ejected a guy who is four hits away from career hit No. 3,000.
This is a case of yet another umpire who forgot that it’s just not about him. Men like Gerry Davis are necessary components of the game, but they are not the reason we watch, and sometimes they just get tired of that.
Sometimes players and coaches merit ejection. Boundaries need to be established and there are instances when they need to be gone.
This is not one of those cases.
Was Beltre showing up Davis and having some fun in an otherwise dreadfully dull night? Despite his protesting otherwise, most likely. Beltre’s nature is to have fun because, the last time I checked, baseball is fun.
Most umpires would not have done anything and let it go, all in the name of just ending a blowout. But with umpires you can never be too sure.
This is a Trumpian-skinned group of people. This is NOT a group that deals well with criticism. There is a reason why replays of close plays are shown a limited number of times on the JumboTrons at MLB games; the umps don’t want to hear it.
And there are strict guidelines to interview these people as well. They are the group that is a part of the show, but off to the side.
My theory on umps is no different than sports writers: From the old school model of an arena the ump is technically in front of the ticket-paying customer, just like a sports journalist. The ticket-paying customer, traditionally, sits behind these groups to watch the players and all three groups (players/coaches, umps/refs, journalists) comprise “the show.”
As a result, all three should be subject to criticism accordingly. The consumer is “paying” for all three, in some shape or form.
The players/coaches get it from fans and the media. The media gets it from the players/coaches/fans. The refs drift into a safe-zone.
Gerry Davis deserves to be shredded for his needless and self-important over-reaction of ejecting a player who did nothing to deserve it.
But Gerry Davis had a moment where he was tired of being on the field but second to the players.
Gerry Davis, this is your moment.
Mac Engel: @macengelprof