Lawsuits: Is This The Future of the Game of Baseball?
The Future Of The Game
It was the bottom of the ninth inning; the score was tied at two all. Inside the home dugout, the manager held his breath against what may happen. The runner on second base took a sizable lead off the base, and made ready for the pitch. On the mound, the pitcher took one last look at his catcher, straightened up, took a deep breath himself as he looked behind him at the runner staring into his eyes. Making his decision, he whirled towards home plate and threw with all his might. A shot up the middle almost hit him, and before he could blink, it was into centerfield. The runner on second was off with the swing, and never slowed down as he made the turn towards home. The centerfielder rushed in to field the ball. Scooping it up cleanly, he cocked his arm and released a rocket straight to home plate. The catcher waited, perfectly positioned at the plate, as both the runner and the ball converged almost simultaneously. As the catcher swung his glove containing the ball into the sliding runner, he shifted his weight so as to move the runner away from the plate. He had him. Knew it. The runner slid around the plate, and the catcher swiped his glove across the runner’s shoulders for the out. Only, he wasn’t out. The umpire signaled safe. Safe?! How the hell did he call him safe? The home team stormed onto the field, whooping and celebrating wildly. The visiting team’s manager flew out of the dugout and met the umpire at the plate.
“You moronic son of a bitch! There’s no way in hell that man was safe! Don’t tell me you couldn’t see that! It happened right in front of your friggin’ eyes!” By the time he finished, he was nose to nose with the umpire, spitting sunflower seeds in his face as he berated the umpire, and then his lineage.
With a roar, the ump threw his arm into the air, signifying the manager was gone, although the game was already over. The manager then began anew, kicking dirt over the ump’s shoes while continuing to curse and spit in his anger. His assistant coaches eventually got the better of him, and dragged him back to the clubhouse, but not before a few well-chosen words were flung over his shoulder.
Once inside, the manager finally cooled down, although it took great effort. Finally able to piece together some sentences not filled with vulgarity, he turned to his assistants and said “Never again! Never again are we going to lose games due to some imbecilic asshole of an ump who can’t see what really happens on that damned field! He cost us a shot at the post season, right there! Took us right out of the running! I can’t begin to tell you how many times that has happened to us this year! Dammit!”
The other coached nodded their heads in agreement. Finally, one spoke up and asked “But what can we do about it? If we argue, we get tossed, or fined. We can take it to the commissioner, but hell, he’s on their side anyway. Nothing else we can do but bend over and take it up the wazoo.”
The manager raised his head, and said “No more. I’ve got a plan, boys. Been thinking about it for a while. Beginning next year, we’re taking notes, making movies, and watching the sports shows every single day. We’re gonna make us a movie that will make these jokers look worse than the Keystone Cops!”
All winter long, they prepared. When Spring Training broke, they were ready. Opening Day came and went, and no matter the call, they kept their cool, all the while making notes, and reviewing film every day and night. When the bad calls arose, and there were some every week that went both for and against them, they compiled their information, copied the film, and recorded the interviews done by the announcers on both their radio and any television station, and those by the national sports guys. By the time the playoffs approached, they were in the hunt for the post season again, and they had quite a library of film in their possession.
With one week left in the season, it happened. Like Yogi Berra said all those many years ago, “It was like déjà vu’ all over again.” The score was tied, 2 – 2. This time, they were the home team. This time, the runner on second base was the speedy Carlos Huerrera. The stolen base leader of the big’s that year, he had set a team record with 79 stolen bases, while being caught only 4 times. As he lead away from second, you could see the pitcher streaming sweat down his face, knowing that Huerrera would score on anything that reached the outfield grass. The outfielders crept ever closer, knowing that a ball over their heads meant the end of the season for them; but likewise, any ball hit in front of them meant the same unless they made the perfect play.
As the pitcher took the sign, he came set, and waited; hoping against hope that the runner would break early, and get caught in a rundown. Not a chance: Huerrera was one cool customer. Watching the pitcher closely, he was a master of picking up the oftentimes tiniest clue as to when the pitcher would go home. Finally, it happened. The pitch. A shot up the middle. Huerrera streaking around third base, heading for home. The center fielder scoops and fires a strike home. The play at the plate. What was apparent from the first base side was the runner sliding free of the tag. The catcher, although he had the ball in time, neglected to properly block the plate, and swiped a tag just slightly above the back of the head first sliding runner. The hand reached out and caressed home plate. The crowd held their breath, then exploded in anger as the call of “Yer Outta there!” echoed across the park. Again, the home manager swarmed up the steps, looking for all the world like a linebacker bent on nothing less than the total annihilation of a quarterback looking the wrong way.
“YOU GOTTA BE KIDDING ME!!! ARE YOU BLIND?? WHADDYA MEAN OUT?? ARE YOU EVEN WATCHING THE SAME FRIGGIN’ GAME I AM??? HE NEVER EVEN TOUCHED HIM!!!” Screaming to the point he might burst his vocal cords, the manager refused to back down from the umpire, even with his coaches dragging at him long after he was tossed by the offensive and vile person in black. His team lost four innings later. They were still in the hunt, though; their closest competitor lost as well. They were tied for the final wild card spot with their hated rival. As the days went by, they remained tied. If one won, the other did. If one lost, the other lost.
Then came the final day of the season. Their rival played first, and won. Their backs were to the wall; it was now or never. As the game went on, it fulfilled all expectations. Zeros lit up the board; no runs, no hits, no errors, no walks for either team through seven innings. Then, it happened. A groundball to the shortstop and a speedy runner resulted in a close play at first. The ball reached the outstretched arm of the first baseman when the runner was a half a stride away from the base, yet the umpire saw safe.
The manager was up the dugout steps without touching a single one. Inside of seconds, he was chest to chest with the offending umpire. He unconsciously drew in a deep breath before letting it fly.
“What in the hell were you looking at?!? You can’t be serious; he was nowhere near the bag!! What, are you trying to channel Don Denkinger or somethin’? Can’t you judge distance any better than you can judge balls and strikes? Or is “in the vicinity” good enough for you? I am sick and tired of you blind as a bat assholes deciding whether or not we make it to the postseason!!”
With a mighty roar, the umpire threw his arm into the air, indicating the manager was gone, out of the game. This only served to further inflame him, and from that point on for better than five minutes, everything about this particular umpire was called into question; from his choice of toupee to his mother’s lineage descending from a pig. When order was finally restored, and the field cleared of the litter thrown at the offending umpire, the manager sat beneath the stadium having been escorted from the field. And on his face, he wore a smile a mile wide. Then, he muttered “We got ‘em!”
The season ended a few days later, and his team finished a half a game out of the playoffs. While the playoffs were going on, he and his coaches worked feverishly to put their findings in order. Hundreds of hours of video was reviewed and cut down to a manageable length. Interviews with sports reporters, players, and other umpires were completed, and paperwork put in order. He took the entire group of evidence up to the General Manager’s office, and set in on his desk.
“Here it is; the entire years’ worth of screw ups and mistakes made by those blind ass umps who kept us out of the post season. I’m fed up with their incompetence! I want them to pay for a change! I want to sue them for what we lost out on by not making the post season!”
The G.M. sat back and looked at his manager. “Are you sure you want to open this can of worms? They’ll close ranks and do everything they can to discredit you, to make you out to be some kind of a crank who’s pissed because his team finished out of the playoffs again. No one has ever sued the umpires union before. Don’t you want to slow down and think this through a bit?”
A smile crossed his face, but it was not a pleasant one. “No. It’s time they were held accountable for their mistakes, same as we are. They’re human; it’s time they owned up to it and the League Commissioner put in Instant Replay on any close play with no restrictions so these types of mistakes stop costing us money! No, the time is now to put them in their place!”
The G.M. nodded. “Okay, I’ll run it up the flagpole. We’ll see what happens.”
On December 14th, a petition was filed. As soon as the particulars hit the media, it was everywhere. Sports pundits were on it like ducks on a June bug, and interviews for both sides were held. Within a couple of weeks, both sides were before a judge to plead their cases. The verdict…
You decide. What do you think? Should umpires be held accountable for their mistakes? Should instant replay be a larger part of the sport? Is it even a sport anymore? With literally millions of dollars at stake for the players and managers, and perhaps billions for the owners, should a single person, a human being, be in control while this much it at stake?
Personally, I feel it will not be long before a case like this appears in court. The country is in love with suing each other at the slightest provocation. Why not for this much money? Is this the future of the game?
UPDATE: It's happening in NFL Football!
Oh my goodness!! When I wrote this several years ago I did think something like this might perhaps happen in some sport. Even though I targeted baseball here (after all, it is my favorite sport to watch) I though that someone, sometime would do what I postulated here.
Well, it is happening and in a big way. This past weekend in the lead-in game for the Super Bowl (can't get much bigger than that) the New Orleans Saints had just such a horrible call occur and I'm sure you have heard about it by now. Time running out in a tie game, the Saints are driving and a first down allows them to ice the game, kicking a game winning field goal as time expires and allowing them to go to the Super Bowl. Instead of this, a non-call on a blatant pass interference forced them to kick said field goal with too much time on the clock and the Los Angeles Rams marched down the field, kicked a game tying field goal then won in overtime.
And now, season pass holders of the Saints are filing a lawsuit against the NFL in order to replay the game! Can you believe it?!
The non-call by the official could have been called due to A) the defensive player not looking back as he attempted to defend against the play and interfered or B) because he initiated helmet to helmet contact (now illegal in the NFL) or even C) because he made contact with the receiver long before the ball was to their position. ANY of these could have and should have been called and wasn't; which is now leading to the lawsuit.
Talk about life imitating art!!
- Attorney files suit on behalf of Saints season-ticket holders to get NFL to replay NFC title game -
There's an obscure rule that allows for the commissioner to make this happen, and Saints fans will try to make him do it
© 2013 Mr Archer