by Randy Ooney
My Nickel’s Worth by Randy Ooney
It’s not often that an official in a professional sports event makes every newspaper and news telecast from local Eyewitness to CNN, FOX, and MSNBC. It happened this week to Jim Joyce when he goofed on an out call at first base which cost Detroit Tiger Armando Galarraga a perfect game. It’s not the first time, nor will it be the last, that an official has changed the course of history, but I was impressed by the wry smile offered by Armando after the call was made. The whole thing played out quite a bit differently than if the victim was John McEnroe, George “Pine tar” Brett, Billy Martin, Earl Weaver, or Serena or Venus Williams. Congratulations to those involved for pacifying what could have been an ugly scene. And Armando actually will be mentioned for the next hundred years, every time a pitcher tosses a perfect game. “And that’s the 23rd perfect game in MLB history! It would be the 24th except ……”.
Occasionally in the past, Nick Tschida participated in a few MSC tournaments locally. I had an opportunity to talk with him about his brother Tim, a major league umpire. They make mistakes, they are human, and they put up with a lot of verbal abuse from fans and players alike. I’m not sure how forgiving I would be, because I am still mad about Phil Cuzzi’s call in Yankee Stadium when Joe Mauer’s ground rule double was ruled a foul ball. Oh well.
Most team sports need some kind of official to keep the peace. The NFL has almost as many zebras as players on the field and they still have trouble getting everything right. Golf has players calling penalties on themselves, but they still have officials to rule in case Michelle Wie doesn’t think she did anything wrong. Soccer has yellow cards and red cards, basketball has technical fouls, but in the other sports, a wave of the arm gets you tossed from the contest.
I guess bowling needs an official once every decade or so, to allow a Bob Learn Jr. mulligan, but for most of us, a light at the foul line is the only thing we need to keep us honest. The nature of the game will cost us as much as bad calls from an official. Although it was over 30 years ago, I still remember a night at Aqua Bowl when my friend Howie Herstein was robbed of a 300 game by a stone 8 pin in the 12th frame. The 8 pin larceny appeared on the PBA tour to both Randy Pederson and Steve Hoskins in the past. The frustrating part of it all is that we have no one to blame. Maybe bowling could use a few umpires so we would have someone to argue with between frames. For now, the closest we have to an umpire in bowling are Patrick UMPhrey, and LUMPy.