Back in the 1990s, I was a Football official and Baseball umpire for Texas high school sports. I also officiated in Wrestling and some Volleyball, but mostly it was Football and Baseball. And the events of this week remind me a bit of my time wearing the Blue.
It can be intimidating, working as an umpire, especially behind the plate. You make a lot of calls, and often the fans, to say nothing of the coaches and players, get the idea that you aren’t getting the calls right, even though you are usually the only person on the field who fully understands the strike zone and who watches the pitch all the way into the glove without bias. And then there are the judgment calls, especially when your partner did not get a good look from his position, and points for you to make the safe/out call.
Coaches can often spot a new official, and they tend to give new umps a hard time to see if they can get inside their skin to influence calls. This is actually a pretty stupid thing to do, because once the umpire understands what the coach is trying to do, this sort of stunt is more likely to prejudice the umpire against that coach instead of for him, but it happens anyway. This leads to some confrontations, which the umpire needs to learn about and prepare for, anyway, since it’s the nature of the job to have arguments.
Anyway, during my rookie season, one of the veteran umps I was working a JV game with took the time to mention a very important observation to me. He reminded me that no matter what a coach or player or fan said, ultimately it was my call, and what I decided would stand, popular or not.
That applies to blogging, as well . I appreciate comments, and the emails are often well-written and thoughtful. Those which are not, get all the attention due them. But when I write my columns, I do so with a sense of responsibility and for a purpose. There are literally millions of blogs out there, and if somehow that doesn’t find one to suit you, you are always welcome to start your own up. But I laugh at the people who waste time thinking I am going to change one word of my posts to suit them. If I was doing it for money or for some notion of fame, some people might persuade me. But I am my own voice, and speak my own mind. Whatever you think of me, what I post is the real deal, and that will never change.