Bill Klem, a Hall of Fame umpire who worked the game for 37 years, was known for saying, It ain’t nothin’ till I call it”. Not anymore. Everything is held in the court of public opinion and if the public is lucky, that will sway the sports’ organizations decisions.
Just in the past month, we’ve had some close calls. Baseball fans are going mental calling for the reversal of Jim Joyce’s last call of Armando Galaraga’s near perfect game. (I don’t agree with Bud very often but I’ve come around to his thinking on this. Can you imagine the precedent this would set?)
Earlier this month, umps at the Women’s Softball College World Series were called into question a couple of times… enough that it was brought up in the media.
And now during the 2010 World Cup (after USA’s unfortunate departure), FIFA is coming under fire for their officiating. Guess what? They’re now considering high-tech solutions to solve their problems.
So either a) officiators are somehow getting worse, b) the fans are getting more picky about their officiating, or c) the media doesn’t have anything better to cover.
My guess is that it’s a combination of b and c.
Quite simply, what’s happening now is that the men in blue are stuck in an era where there have been some high profile missed calls. As a result, the spotlight is on them where is shouldn’t be. You know an umpire is doing a good job when you don’t remember him and can’t recall his name. THEN he’s doing his job.
Now however, this issue is stuck in neutral and everyone is looking for the umpire to make a mistake. And when he does, here come the typical articles in press/blogosphere… “SEE SEE!! We need to institute/expand instant replay!!”.
As I feel with most things in life, baseball should not make snap decisions based on high profile mistakes or media-driven policy.
To me, it ain’t nothin till an ump calls it.