Umpires vs. referees: umpires get no whistles and wear no stripes

Mystified Dorian Zimmerman heads to the bench learning a life lesson, "Some things makes no sense." PHOTOS BY DAVE FREDERICK
March 28, 2014

Philly Sports Talk - I watched "Philly Sports Talk" at 6 p.m on Comcast Sportsnet March 25 just to hear what sports reporters were saying about DeSean Jackson and the Phillies. You couldn’t pay me to care about DeSean Jackson. Will the Eagles “move him or not before the draft” went on endlessly, and I thought, "This is worse than Chris Matthews on MSNBC.” Character issues and a negative presence in the locker room. Are we really to believe that makes any difference in the NFL? Philly fans, many of whom grew up a negative influence in the locker rooms of their youth, are now bashing their own local media through that very same media. Man, we all need to get out and do some community service.

Placement and playing time - There is a website called Crackle and a Jerry Seinfeld thread called “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee.” It’s actually pretty funny, more interesting than "Bee Movie." Chris Rock talked about his daughter playing basketball and admitted she wasn’t that great but said when he and his wife went to a game, the team won by a lot and his daughter didn’t play. He joked, “I’m famous and my kid doesn’t play, so am I supposed to talk to the coach? I don’t think so. There is something she can do about it, and that’s work harder at being a better player.” I was impressed by Rock’s perspective, but I also know that who plays and where and how long is at times a mystery even to the player. That’s why all athletes should have a broader life inside their own heads that doesn’t include anything about sports.

Coast to coast - My generation of basketball players frowned upon athletes who snatched a rebound then dribbled full speed to the other end of the court and threw up some crazy off-balance bank shot that had an even-money chance of not going in the basket. But now that is just part of the new game of undisciplined, crazy athleticism, and it all makes little sense to me. Most teams that come out and rock it old school end up losing to the insanity of humanity, high-flying aerial circus that is now college basketball.

Living on the outside - Cape baseball coach Ben Evick reacted to my question, “So did your pitchers get rocked in the first inning at Caravel, giving up seven runs?” by saying, "Not at all. Griffin Kammerer likes to work the outside of the plate, and the umpire wasn’t giving it to him. By the end of the inning, we had used two pitchers and given up six walks and seven runs, and that was pretty much that.” The Cape offense managed no runs and no hits over the five-inning game. But don’t despair; this is a good baseball team.

Umps and refs - The major difference is umps don’t have whistles. The funniest baseball/softball coach interacting with umpires was Jeff Savage, who is now the athletic director at Dover. “Hey ump, I’ve seen better eyes on a potato. Let's to third to make that call. If it was a cheeseburger you’d get over there.” And the one that really fries umpires is, “C’mon, Blue, you’re better than that.” The most mystifyingly officiated sport is women’s lacrosse. I saw several calls last Saturday at Holy Cross Academy, where 100 total years of Cape coaching experience simply sighed: “I have no idea what call that was.” Well, it may have been dangerous propelling or cradling in front of your own head, who knows?

Snippets - The world is in balance, so I’m predicting a spring of great sports weather, and I really don’t care what the weather is doing if I don’t have to stand out in it for a three-hour game. It takes some really good and persistent coaching to power through snow days and unplayable fields, and that’s where the good programs will just find a way to get it done. I’m in a couple of CBS online brackets; the problem is I can’t remember how to get to them. The April Fools Day all-terrain prediction run will commence Sunday, March 30, at the Cape Henlopen State Park fishing pier at 10 a.m. I don’t drink, so you won’t find me at the monkey bars. Go on now, git!

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