Wednesday, April 19, 2006

I should dread this season, and I do, sort of. The phone calls, the scheduling, the ill-disguised anger in their voices when I call managers to tell them there is no umpire for their game, the shuttling back and forth between baseball and softball...

I should hate this time of year. But I don't. It's a time of rebirth, renewal, and the resumption of the game I love just as much as it hates me (sounds like a marriage).

Well, beat the drum and hold the phone - the sun came out today
We're born again, there's new grass on the field
Roundin' third, and headed for home, it's a brown-eyed handsome man
Anyone can understand the way I feel

I guess everyone knows that's John Fogarty's song "Center Field". Rumor has it that the "brown-eyed handsome man" is Jackie Robinson.

Almost got to umpire at Bear's softball game tonight. Got to game time with no umpire in sight and I approached the manager and told her I had been an ASA umpire in the past. She cleared it with the other manager and I was on the field when the league official, who has thus far been invisible, materialized and announced that she needed to find an "unbiased" umpire. As though I'd throw a slow-pitch softball game involving nine-year olds. She dragged another dad away from his daughter's game and he did an ok job. His calls were good, if not done in the "official" manner, but he had to miss his daughter's game. I understand her point in bringing in an "unbiased" umpire, but I was a bit put out by the inference that I might be biased.

The counterpoint to that is Junior League baseball, a highly competetive league composed of 13, 14 and 15-year old boys who have been playing organized baseball for eight to nine years running. I had to cancel a Junior League game tonight when the scheduled umpire called to say he couldn't make it. I gave the managers the option to hold a scrimmage on the field and incredibly, they were able to find a dad in the stands to umpire the game. I'm glad that they did--but contrast that against the much younger girls in the softball league and me, with experience, being turned down because I just might be biased.

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