Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Committing the Cardinal Sin

I did it. I'm guilty. Lock me up in irons, drag me through the streets in chains and pour hot coffee all over my lap.

Bless me father, for I have sinned - I have broken your most sacred rule, and violated the trust. And for this, I should be punished by eternal castigation, torment and scorn.

I admit it, after all these years of looking down upon those who would break the honorable barriers due to their lack of control. I did it for only the best of reasons, honest, but in the moment of truth I was weak.

What horrible crime have I committed? What terrible offense have I perpetrated upon polite society?

I yelled at the ump in BrainyBoy's baseball game last night.


I know, I know... I'm sorry. Truly. It was a moment of madness. Utterly caught up in the spirit of the moment, I let my true feelings be known to the poorly paid, undertrained, disinterested and apparently severly nearsighted umpi--

Sorry. Let me start again.

BB's a big guy, and this being his first year back in baseball he's having to learn how to swing and hit like the big kids. And subsequently he's been having trouble, having struck out each time this year. But he's been hitting hot in the batting cage with his coach, gotten some new hitting tips and was ready to go. "Bring it on, pitcher!"

"Strike One!"


Ok, hang in there bud. Look sharp!


A sharp, sharp hit down the third base line! It's near the bag - will it stay fair? Will it? A small puff as the ball hits the base and continues on down the foul line. I immediately stand and cheer with the rest of the parents crowd, until I hear the ump say the dreaded words...


I sink down to my seat in disbelief. "What??" I point out to third base and call out, "It hit the base!" I couldn't believe it - such an elementary baseball rule, and the ump missed it. "It hit third base!" I continued to allege - everybody who knows anything about baseball knows that the bases are fair territory, and a ball that hits the base before crossing foul is a fair ball...

"It's a fair ball!" I try, not realizing I've stood up.

"Sir," the ump said, walking over to me from his normal position behind the pitcher, "I can't see that far from where I am and your coach made the call."

GULP. I look over to see our head coach standing near third base. Apparently in this league where there is only one ump calling the game, they are allowed to defer to a coach on either foul line for a judgement call. It is just pseudo-Little League after all.

I sank to my seat, staring at our coach in disbelief - how could he do it? How could any of them do it? How could they deprive my son of his first hit? What were they thinking??


However, as I searched for intelligent life in the universe, the game had resumed. There was no joy in Knoxville, for Mighty Brainy had struck out.

I was ready to sink under the bleachers and live out my existance as a troll, but was afraid I'd scare little kids so thought better of it. The coach came over later after the inning was over and apologized, but asserted the ball was just b-a-r-e-l-y foul, and he couldn't cheat and say it was fair. Which was absolutely correct, and I thanked him for being honest then and now. Then I went over and congratulated my son on his great (almost) hit.

"Dad, I'm hungry," he said.

Well, that was weighing heavily on his mind.

But I had done the deed. For years I read disdainfully about "those" parents who verbally and sometimes physically abused umpires and referees because little Timmy got a bad call, when a player from the other team sneezed in the direction of their precious little Kristie. It was something I would never do, because I - as a student of the game - was better than that. I understand the pressures umpires are under, and certainly they know the game better than I. So I would take any real or imagined slights in stride and deal with them calm and rationally.


High emotion is a killer. I wanted him to get his first hit so badly, I let it get away from me. I felt bad about it later, and wanted to apologize to the ump but he seemed to have more pressing matters to attend to and left the game 15 minutes before it was over, passing off to another ump who had shown up.

Yeah, he just didn't want to admit to me he'd blown a call....

Wait'll next time, BB. Wait'll next time.

If you swing it, it will hit.

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