Integrity in umpiring, baseball in focus after UNO game Friday
The job description entails controlling play, being unbiased, eradicating emotion and, under all circumstances, maintaining poise and striving to be fair.
Being an umpire is a difficult task.
I was actually asked to do it once in recreational softball.
Once was enough.
That will never happen again.
The scrutiny and scorn, even at that level, is immense.
I have been blessed to do many, many baseball games as a play-by-play announcer throughout my fortunate career.
As I speak, I will be doing a Delgado doubleheader against Triton College today at Kirsch-Rooney Stadium at 1 p.m. on Dolphin Radio 99.1 FM and streaming video at www.delgadoathletics.com.
I have enjoyed being the original play-by-play announcer for the New Orleans Zephyrs, to have done some Tulane games on television, to have served as the voice of University of New Orleans baseball and continuing to do many, many high school games on NASH ICON 106.1 FM and here at CrescentCitySports.com.
Over the course of time, I have befriended many umpires and always make sure I recognize excellence when I see it in a game.
Umpires have a very difficult job.
After all, no one likes the umpire.
Many, if not most fans view umpires with a jaundiced eye or two.
The pitch called a strike was a ball.
The player called out was safe.
The fair ball was really foul.
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
There is little beauty in the eye of a prejudiced fan.
All who have a rooting interest have a tendency to see things one way, at least at times. A few do all the time.
Umpires, as it has been stated for many years, are the integrity of the game.
Most of the time, they get it right.
Their jobs have become even more difficult in recent years, with rule changes, replay and the advent of the clock on most levels to administrate.
The concept of replacing humans with electronics is interesting but it is troubling.
We are all familiar with the boxes used in televised games, illustrating the strike zone.
I don’t know about you but watching those at times, some which appear to be in the “K-Zone” do not appear to be strikes at all.
There are inaccuracies and mistakes made by humans.
There are inaccuracies and mistakes made by electronics.
This past Friday night, there was an egregious mistake made by an umpire.
It was not a mistake in visualization but a mistake in judgment.
We all have our personal feelings and expressing those feelings comes naturally to most.
That is certainly the case for me.
Sometimes, patience is the better part of valor.
Think before you act.
Reggie Drummer did not do so this past Friday night.
Regardless of what extenuating circumstances may have preceded what transpired, there is no excuse for what followed.
In a game heard live on NASH ICON 106.1 FM, Drummer allowed his emotions to get the best of his professionalism.
Everyone misses a pitch.
Everyone makes mistakes.
Lord knows that is the case in my life.
The key is to correct the mistake and strive not to repeat the same flawed, failed behavior.
With the University of New Orleans leading Mississippi Valley State 7-3 in the top of the ninth inning with two outs, Davon Mims was at the plate.
Trey Usey delivered a 1-1 pitch.
The pitch was clearly low.
Drummer called it a strike.
Umpires miss pitches.
Mims, clearly upset over the missed call, jumped up and down and shook his head as he stepped out. He pointed down to illustrate that the pitch was low.
Mims was right. The pitch was low.
The video and story have made national news.
Baseball is filled with and, some would say, littered with unwritten rules.
One of those is that you do not show up an umpire.
The purist would exclaim that Mims did just that.
Clearly, Drummer or any umpire would not be pleased with the reaction.
Clearly, Drummer was more than unhappy with the reaction of Mims.
What came next is what mattered.
The next pitch was way low and it was outside.
Drummer called it a strike.
University of New Orleans play-by-play announcer Emmanuel Pepis, who does work for CrescentCitySports.com and is a consummate professional, reacted in emotional fashion doing his job as an accurate truth-teller, not a homer.
“Oh, my gosh! Wow! He got run up on ball two!” Pepis said. “That is horrific! Drummer just wanted to go home.”
I am proud of Emmanuel, who started with us many years ago in radio and at UNO, for the job he is doing and the job he did Friday night. He did his job properly.
Drummer walked away immediately.
Mims walked after Drummer.
Privateers catcher Jorge Tejeda did the right thing, trying to intercede by getting between Mims and Drummer and has been hailed as a good sport, even a hero for doing so.
In the heat of battle, players can get emotional.
The end result in basketball is a technical foul being called.
The end result in football is a personal foul penalty.
The end result in baseball, well, it can be many things.
Mims got emotional.
Drummer let his emotions get the best of him.
The Southland Conference acted swiftly and appropriately, suspending Drummer.
This should not be an indictment of umpires, as a whole.
The whole of that profession is the sum of its parts and for the most part, it is solid, good, sometimes very good.
As in every profession, there is bad.
Watching Major League Baseball games frequently, there are three umpires with jobs for many years who, in my estimation, are awful and have consistently received low marks and been rated by players and managers in very, very poor fashion. They still have jobs.
There are also very, very good umpires who regularly receive high marks and are rated by players and managers in very, very high fashion. They still have jobs.
I am not in the business of wishing anyone to lose a job.
On most occasions, a lack of performance or a poor attitude takes care of that aspect.
There was a lack of performance and a poor attitude at Maestri Field Friday night.
Drummer was beating to the beat of his own drum and played a poor tune.
I am a huge believer in second chances.
Not knowing the history of Drummer, here is hoping he apologizes for his obvious bias, gets reinstated at some point, and goes on to a fine career.
The biggest issue and the biggest complaint I regularly receive and perceive regarding umpires is that a select few think they are the game.
They are the integrity of the game, the monitors, the regulators.
The game is all about the players.
Let them play.
Give them a chance to play fairly and squarely.
That did not happen Friday night.
The lack of integrity was appalling.
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Born and raised in the New Orleans area, CCSE CEO Ken Trahan has been a sports media fixture in the community for nearly four decades. Ken started NewOrleans.com/Sports with Bill Hammack and Don Jones in 2008. In 2011, the site became SportsNOLA.com. On August 1, 2017, Ken helped launch CrescentCitySports.com. Having accumulated national awards/recognition (National Sports Media Association, National Football…