The Woes Of Officating in Baseball

Marla GoldbergCorrespondent IMay 21, 2008

Officiating is one the most important jobs in sports, but it is also the least rewarding.

The officials never win or lose and someone is always upset with them. Despite negative feelings a fan has toward an official because of one bad call or a lifetime of bad calls, one must admire their concentration, knowledge, and commitment to being a fair official in sports.

Every day, millions of people wait for the official's call—upsetting half of those people—that's a lot of pressure. The way officials handle themselves during a tough call is quite impressive.

How many of us could really handle Lou Piniella kicking dirt at us, swearing and spitting in our face, and then, to top it off, give us a terrifying glare while he messes up home plate?

I don't know about you, but just seeing him come out of the dugout would make me run from Chicago faster than Zambrano can throw a fastball over home plate.

Officiating is in a new era of the annoying "instant replay." The camera is making the calls now.

But the one sport that stays true to the good ol' human eye is baseball, which just one reason why I think it's the hardest sport to officiate.

In baseball, it's difficult to officiate because the ball is flying so fast that there's barely enough time to judge the call. When an official has to decide whether to call someone out they have to be watching multiple things happening at a base.

First, the ball in the fielder's glove; then, if the player's foot is on the base; and, most importantly, if the runner touched the base before the ball was caught—that is to say if the fielder tagged the runner first or the runner tagged up on time—whew!

See what I mean?

The easiest sport to officiate would be have basketball since the main reason for the refs is to judge player fouls, which is not as hard when the court is a small surface area and there are fewer players than in another team sport.

That being said, basketball has the best officials mostly because they have the easiest job.

In football, there is instant replay every quarter because of the bad officiating.

Even after the refs have seen the replay, I still see them making the wrong calls. Something about football, whether it's the angle that the refs have or the long distance that the refs have from the fast plays, make for a bunch of stupid calls. The refs in football also don't get to see as many games so they get a lot less practice then officials in other sports.

In baseball, every single pitch and play rely on what the officials say. Officials play the greatest role in determining the outcome of a game.

Baseball officials have the most pressure because one bad call between a foul ball and home run can change the entire game. No other sport has as many upset managers and ejected mangers getting kicked out for arguing a call as baseball.

In fact, baseball's really the only sport where the coach gets in the umpires face to argue a call.

Quality in officiating has improved due to instant replay, which takes a lot of pressure off refs in an important situation. The best long-term solution for improving the accuracy of officials is for them to observe more games so they develop a better eye for the game, which will only come with more practice.

Officiating is and will always be the center of controversies in sports.

Every fan is emotional and gets angry at the guys in striped shirts.

Despite how much you hated the horrible call—during Game Seven of the Stanley Cup playoffs against Eric Fehr for tripping the Flyers defenseman that made them lose (not to be specific or anything)—you still gotta love them.