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Former Umpire Becomes a TV Critic


I'm tickled to death for the umpires. It's over.

The umpires did a marvelous job in this World Series. You can't ask for a better job than what they did. But I was so upset at the announcers in this Series, I finally had to turn the sound off on my TV in the bottom of the fourth inning Wednesday night.

Early in the game, one of them says, "Oh, a couple of generous strikes from Pettitte." I think that's absolutely unnecessary. I think announcers today are so worried about having enough to say that they're just picking on things to gripe about.

To pick on professional officials in any sport is the easiest thing in the world to do. Pick on them and say how wrong they are. And yet I question the guts of anybody who does this. Why don't they go down during spring training and try to umpire a ballgame?

The announcers of today should take a note from Vin Scully. Scully would say, "Here, folks, we're going to replay this and let you draw your own opinion." These guys today are so opinionated--"Oh, he blew this one." And I umpired behind these guys. Tim McCarver and Bob Brenly--you've got two catchers who are announcing these games. Let me tell you something. One of them I used to call, "Iron Hands." I'm not going to say which one, but that's how I felt about him.

There was a tough call in the top of the eight inning, when Tim Tschida called Paul O'Neill safe on a very close play at first base. That play was so close that they replayed it and replayed it and finally showed it frame by frame.

I kept watching it and watching it, and I really could not tell. And I have a trained eye, because I know I'm looking for. My adage on that, which I always tell young umpires, is: "If you can't tell if the man is out, he has to be safe." Because the rule book says the ball must beat the runner.

At first I thought Tschida kicked the play. But the more they replayed it, I said, "Oh my God, I would have called him safe." There's no doubt in my mind. You could not in normal time call the man out. He had to be safe.

I'm surprised they didn't break it down to the half-frame. That's what's happening to the game on TV. Television ought to get the hell out of the way and let the game be played. Show the game in regular action, show one slow-motion replay and get on with the game. They're too worried about seeing if they can prove the umpire missed the call.

Beyond that, what are you going to pick on the umpires about? There's nothing to pick on. I give home plate umpire Dana DeMuth an A-minus. I'd mark him down only because he was a little bit inconsistent. But other than that, you've had four great umpired ballgames.

Truthfully, the umpires in this series can stand up with their backs straight and their chests out. I'm thrilled for the umpires. You're not going to do any better than this if you go back through the history of the game--to Bill Klem and all of them. They would sit back with envy and say, "Look at how well this thing was handled."

Most umpires are flat outstanding people. I wish all people in America could meet umpires. If they did, they would stop hating them.

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