Did you see that Alabama-Minnesota softball game?
If you didn’t here’s a link.
Was that a strike or what? How did that umpire miss that call?
I’ve seen a number of posts about bad calls throughout the playoffs so far. The comments range from benign to extreme. But guess what? The comments you hear are the same comments you hear every year in various sports. On every close call (or even many not-so-close calls) there is going to be someone who agrees and someone who disagrees. It’s part of the game.
Have you ever tried being an umpire? I used to umpire slow pitch softball. That has to be easy. If the ball hits the mat it’s a strike. How much easier can it be? I can tell you there were times where the ball came down right by the edge of that mat and it is not always so easy. But you have to make a call. I especially laugh at fans at a major-league baseball game who complain about a close call on balls and strikes. The fans are a minimum of 40 feet away and at various angles. The umpire is right behind the catcher. As a softball coach I often can tell with fairly good accuracy, on balls and strikes from the dugout or coach’s box. But sometimes I can be off. But here’s the bigger issue.
Why do we let our players, or ourselves, blame the umpires, or anyone else for that matter, for our shortcomings? I learned two things a long time ago: First, one call never wins or loses a game, and second, without respect for authority we might not have a game.
I’ve never had much of a problem with the second issue. I’ve never been tossed from any game I’ve coached or played in in any sport. I did get tossed once as a scorekeeper but I was falsely blamed for something another parents said. (The other parent apologized to me after the game. It wasn’t a big deal. The ump was a real old guy having a tough time with both teams). The first lesson was well spoken at a coach’s clinic I attended. I forget the first coach that said this (there have been many over the years), but the lesson is the same. Why did you allow yourself to be in the position where one call could change the course of the game?
Let’s look at the Alabama-Minnesota game.
- Why were the bases loaded? If the bases weren’t loaded that walk wouldn’t have mattered. Get the next batter out.
- Why didn’t your team score more runs? If you are ahead that run would not beat you. Worse case is it could only tie you.
Nobody likes mistakes, especially in the bottom of the last inning of a close game. But if you think that umpire has it easy, check out this episode of Sports Science:
Still want to ump?
I’m sure a lot of people feel bad for Minnesota. They had a great season and I’ll bet they’ll be back next year. It’s easy to root against the big dog but let’s face it, Alabama is a great program. In all the hype and commotion, let’s try to remember what we teach our players and our children:
- Don’t blame someone else (i.e. umpires) for your failures.
Teach first, win later.