Tags Posts tagged with "Alex Rodriguez"

Alex Rodriguez

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He’s cold and he wants to go home.

He has to go to the bathroom and he can’t stand here another minute.

He’s way too hot under all that equipment and he wants to go swim somewhere.

Yes, these are just some of the sinister motives often attributed to umpires, referees or officials at games, as coaches and parents try to explain a call that they clearly saw the other way.

Yet if you ask most of the parents on the other team, including those who seem like eminently reasonable people, they would tell you that they thought the umpire made the right call.

Here we are again, with Little League baseball underway and with championship T-shirts, sweatshirts and trophies at stake.

Standing between the starting point for all those teams and the ultimate glory are the other teams, the weather which forces endless makeup games, huge parties that take half the team from a scheduled game and, of course, the umpires.

I have tremendous sympathy for those umpires because I was one decades ago. No, I didn’t call Derek Jeter out or ring up Alex Rodriguez. My brother and I signed up to umpire Little League games.

In several games, batter after batter would get into a full count. Invariably the hitter would take a pitch that was somewhere between the outside corner and just outside. With every eye on the field staring at me, I had to make a difficult choice.

Yes, of course, there is a strike zone, and in the strike zone is a strike and outside the zone is a ball, but what if the ball is squeezing along the edge of the plate, near the bottom of the strike zone?

I aimed for consistency, but I also became involved in “make good” calls. I’d call a borderline strike a ball on the first batter, disappointing the pitcher and catcher, and then I’d call the next borderline strike a strike, deflating the hitter and his teammates.

Numerous pitches were so close that I knew the groans would come even before my arm signaled for the hitter to go to first or return to the bench.

Once, before a game, a coach came up to me and told me that he was a bit of a hothead and that I should feel free to eject him from the game. Too bad I didn’t have the foresight then to ask him what he was doing coaching 8-year-olds in the first place if he felt the need to argue calls.

Sure enough, in the second inning, he screamed at me for a called strike. After I ejected him, he winked at me as if we had each played our defined roles. His players tried not to snicker as they watched him leave the field for what I understand was one of many such dismissals.

Nowadays, people complain about officiating in professional sports constantly, especially with endless video replays from angles no individual referee could possibly have at the same time, much less an umpire on a hot, dry baseball field.

I recognize that we live in a society where we have a right to express ourselves, but we also have a responsibility to accept the rule of law. Like it or not, the umpires on the field establish and enforce those rules.

Maybe, as we push our lawn chairs into the cars on our way to another game, we should remember that the umpire isn’t out to get anyone. The official is just trying to do his or her best to make sure both teams have an equal opportunity to succeed.

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My brothers are getting ready to celebrate their birthdays, which are two days apart. OK, so, several years and two days apart, so, no, they aren’t twins who kept my mother in labor for more than 48 hours.

At times I thought perhaps I, the middle child, should have been born on the day in between them. That way, my parents would have gotten all the birthday parties for the year done in one week.

Then again, it would have been hard for any of us to own more than 24 hours if we were all making plans for something special in the same narrow window of time.

As a longtime baseball devotee and recreational player, I always imagined the best thing I could do on my birthday would be to attend a Yankees game.

Over time, the focus on my birthday has changed. Yes, I enjoy my wife’s chocolate chip cookies, which she bakes as often as I like and, yes, I enjoy the calls and the cards. However, I don’t anticipate the day the same way I did when I was my children’s age, as they count down the days, hours and minutes until their annual celebration.

My son, who also loves baseball — hmm, I wonder how that happened? — has often talked about going to a game on his birthday, which is, conveniently, during the summer. The biggest challenge to making that happen is that he plays baseball so often that his games often conflict with Yankee games. In fact, during some weeks in the summer, he plays more games than Alex Rodriguez. OK, well, maybe that’s a bad example because poor A-Rod, who is a shell of his former self, hasn’t gotten much playing time these days.

Back to birthdays, though, if I could choose between a summer and winter birthday, I’m not sure which way I’d go. Let’s lay out the advantages of a winter birthday: For starters, I might get one of those natural gifts, when a snow day would eliminate all the hustle and bustle as the world stops and is covered with a white blanket. Nice as that sounds, that never happened.

My school friends were around on my birthday. During the summer, some of my son’s friends go to camp, where they might send him a snapchat or a text message around his birthday, but they can’t hang out, eat cake and swim in a pool.

I could also go skiing on my birthday. I love racing fast enough down a mountain that my eyes water from speeding down a trail. And, after an incredible day at Killington or Mount Snow, both in Vermont, I could relax in a lodge, in front of a fireplace, with my tired feet and exhausted knees propped up on the hearth.

I also enjoyed going to the beaches during the winter, when the crowds were gone and I felt as if I owned the windswept landscape, from one end of West Meadow Beach to the other.

OK, how about the disadvantages? Tests were at the top of that list. When I was in school, a test on my birthday wasn’t as much of a wet blanket as a test the day after my birthday, when studying superseded any birthday celebration.

The movies around the middle of the winter never seemed as much fun to attend as the ones during the summer, perhaps because of the pressure to prepare for school.

Still, while the grass may be greener, literally, for summer birthdays and the baseball season may be in full swing, the winter birthdays give those of us looking for festivities during the colder, darker months something to celebrate.

Ideally, we can enjoy these festivities all-year round, as we celebrate with our friends and family, particularly during frenetic birthday weeks.