I’m sure we all agree that athletes at the major league level are the best of the best at what they do, the “crème de la crème”. Umpires and referees who officiate at the major league level also are the crème de la crème. Major league athletes and officials fit the definition of professional listed #13 on dictionary.com – “a person who is an expert at his or her work”.
Major league athletes have devoted an immeasurable amount of time to hone their physical and mental skills to reach the very top level of play, and most if not all continue to practice and hone their skills in order to stay at that pinnacle.
Umpires and referees, like the athletes they officiate, have that same devotion of time used to hone their physical and mental skills. In order to get and stay at that level, they need to have a much broader skill set than what most people realize is necessary. Besides knowing the rulebook, calling and managing the game well, and staying in good physical condition, just to name a few things, they need to keep up on player and team trends and tendencies, and the latest wacky gamesmanship behaviors.
And there are the intangibles that are almost impossible to teach – understanding the game, having a feel for the mood of the game, and the intent of the athletes.
Anyone who follows the Orioles knows that Daniel Cabrera has a reputation of throwing at hitters. Anyone who knows baseball knows that if someone hits a homerun, it’s a good possibility that the next batter will get thrown at, and/or that someone who just hit the homerun will get thrown at the next time at bat. An example that I distinctly remember was how Greg Maddux threw at Eddie Murray’s head after Albert Belle hit a home run in game 5 of the 1995 World Series. And this happened right after the TV announcer boasted about Maddux’ pinpoint accuracy (he walked 23 batters the whole season). But, as often said on WNST blogs, I digress…
So, after Alex Rodriguez hits a double and a homerun off of Cabrera, is it simply coincidence that Cabrera hits him the next at bat?
Is it also simply coincidence that Kevin Millar, who is crushing Yankee pitching this year, gets thrown at the next day?
Both Cabrera and Ramirez received the same punishment – tossed without a warning.
The major league umpires knew the intent of both major leaguers Cabrera and Ramirez, and got the calls right.