Why Can’t a Guy Like This Run For Public Office?

George Will’s column in yesterday’s Washington Post is about MLB umpire Bruce Froemming. There are several good stories told in this short column, but this one is my favorite:

A story for Froemming: Rogers Hornsby, who averaged.400 over five years, was facing a rookie pitcher who threw three pitches that he thought were strikes but that the umpire called balls. The rookie shouted a complaint to the umpire, who replied: “Young man, when you throw a strike, Mr. Hornsby will let you know.”

Baseball is a lot different than most other sports in that there isn’t really any subjectivity to the rules. Sure, umpires have to make judgements, but the rules are clearly defined. You never hear commentators say, “wow, they’re calling it really tight tonight” the way they do in football or basketball.

Then there is this:

Consider Sept. 2, 1972, when Froemming was behind the plate and the Cubs’ Milt Pappas was one strike from doing what only 15 pitchers have done — pitch a perfect game, 27 up, 27 down. With two outs in the ninth, Pappas got an 0-2 count on the 27th batter. Froemming called the next three pitches balls. An agitated Pappas started walking toward Froemming, who said to the Cubs’ catcher: “Tell him if he gets here, just keep walking” — to the showers.

Pappas’s next pitch was low and outside. Although he did get his no-hitter, the greater glory — a perfect game — was lost. Another kind of glory — the integrity of rules — was achieved.

This couldn’t happen (and rightly so) in football or basketball where officials are very hesitant to call things like pass interference or ticky-tack fouls in the closing seconds of a game. I think this is due to the nature of the sports. Baseball has a finite numer of situations and possible actions. It lends itself to a strict enforcement of the rules that other team sports usually aren’t afforded.

When I read articles like this, I’m reminded of how much I love(d) baseball–the sport, not MLB. It’s such a simple, complicated, and smart game.

It’s really sad that it has been pretty much ruined in the US.

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4 Replies to “Why Can’t a Guy Like This Run For Public Office?”

  1. What’s got you so down on the US today? The MLB may be the MBL, but no matter what the “US does” to the game…it’s still the easiest game to teach and the hardest game to learn. The US has introduced the game to the world…we can’t say much about original US products but we have baseball and jazz…I’d say that’s enough.

  2. What’s got you so down on the US today?

    I didn’t realize I was until I saw kids play ball in the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Colombia, etc. They play the game the way we did when we were kids–a stick and any ball they can find. Milk crates, trees, and squashed soda cans are their screwed up bases.

    Remember that it was a huge deal to get to actually play on a real field with a uniform even though your trucker hat didn’t even have a logo on it? Remember playing “cup ball” after your game was over? Remember how you could even play one on one with “ghostmen”?

    Do you see kids playing ball like this in the U.S. now?

    Damn I’m old.

  3. I love this post as well..Froemming was a great ump with tons of good stories. I still love MLB despite the hypocritical Selig and all the ‘juice’. The game survived the ‘Black Sox’, apartheid and many other horrors. It will survive the ‘juice’. Just watch the young generation coming into the game now..the Uptons, Hanley Ramirez, Sizemore, that Cleveland pitcher Sizemore, and I know in my heart it still works.

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