Mike’s take on what took place last night in Jamestown

Courtesy of Mike Ellis, Jamestown News….

The game between Northwest and Ragsdale was marred by an umpire who decided he
wanted to be the center of attention at last night’s game. This writer has attended
14 high school games this season and many over the course of my life and last
night’s display by the home plate umpire was the most “outlandish” I have ever
witnessed.

First of all his strike zone was about as wide as any I have ever seen. That was
okay…he was consistent. The wide strike zone led to 19 strikeouts in the game.
Pretty impressive since neither team had what you would really call dominating
strikeout pitchers on the mound. The strike zone did lead to some frustration
especially as it continued to expand as the game went on…11 of the strikeouts came
in the last three innings.

This umpire also felt it was essential to the flow of the game to not allow batters to
step out of the batter’s box. This is a rule, but it is a rule that is loosely
enforced and in all of the games I have seen this year, not once have I seen an
umpire enforce it. Players adapt to what they are used to and this umpires strict
adherence to the rule was a drastic change over what teams had experienced all year.

In the sixth inning with Zach Hodges at the plate and the tying run on first, Mr.
Umpire called the first pitch low and away a strike. Hodges wasn’t happy and
stepped out of the box to look down to his coach. With no warning or “request” to
get back in the box, Mr. Umpire throws his hands up in the air walks towards Hodges
and shouts, “out of the box, that’s strike two”. Hodges, visibly upset says
something and the umpire throws him out of the game. A prolonged argument ensues
(approximately fifteen minutes) as Coach Donnie Maness appeals to the umpire about
his decision. Maness eventually declared he was playing the game under protest, but
Hodges was gone and the game had taken an ugly turn.

It just appeared to this writer that the umpire overreacted and almost “baited” the
player into a response. A mature adult, supervising a game of high school
teenagers, could have handled the situation much differently and more
professionally. He let the situation get out of hand.

8 comments

  1. Thanks Mike for telling “the rest of the story.” After reading your first writeup I was impressed how you just recapped the game in a professional manner without discussing the other issue. It was pretty bad. Why an ump feels a need to make the game more about him self than the play is always baffling. I got there late so I didn’t have a perspective of what transpired in earlier innings. I did find it odd that both umpires kept finding it necessary to admonish both dug outs about who was standing where. Why some umps have to be so anal about such things – it all gets back to the “I’m in charge and we’ll do things my way” mentality. The ump telling Maness “we’re not discussing ball and strikes calls tonight” was pretty bad. That strike two you hung on Hodges wasn’t exactly a border line ball/strike call was it Blue? He should really be embarrassed how he handled that last night.

    I’m still curious as to what the official outcome is of the ump ejecting Hodges. It is my understanding his ruling will force Hodges to sit today’s game with Glenn, maybe more. That is what had Donnie as upset as anything – Hodges is basically the only live arm Ragsdale has to throw today. Without him (and if more he’ll miss the next Glenn game as well) Ragsdale’s situation is much worse.

    All that being said – it wasn’t the ump that cost Ragsdale the game. Ragsdale’s inability to get out of that fifth inning is where the game was lost. Too many passed balls, too many chances given to NWG to advance runners. That plus not scratching out at least one run over the last three innings cost Ragsdale a win last night.

  2. Mark, you are correct, umpires did not cost the game, just very unprofessional. You can’t have 4 passed balls with runners on 3rd, especially when 3 are strikes and 2 were strikeouts. Gotta help your pitcher a little. Southcott did a good job pitching. With Sparks gone Ragsdale has an issue behind the plate.

  3. I’m sure the umps will change the ruling to a DQ instead of an ejection. Happens all the time.

  4. What Mike Ellis did not say is Hodges was looking down to get a sign from his coach after the pitch. The pitcher was on the back of the mound. He wasn’t even ready to pitch. At a crucial stage in the game the umpire decided to attract attention to himself.

  5. Just another case of umpires who never played the game. Unfortunately, that is becoming more and more the norm. It is sad really. I was at the Southern Alamance/SE Guilford game the other night and the batter hit a home run and passed the baserunner in front of him. Neither of the umpires knew what to do. I saw them both throw up their hands and say “I don’t know.” Don’t worry, it is just as bad at the college level.

  6. What you all fail to mention is that the Ragsdale batter cursed at the umpire. That’s what got him ejected. Baited or not, “unhappy” or frustrated, cursing at an official is just not allowed in any game and can not (and should not) be tolerated. There’s still supposed to be a level of respect shown for authority, and like it or not, the umps and refs are in charge. You learn early in the game what they’re going to call and not call, and you adapt to THEM. Stop making excuses for the player’s (and coaches’, from what I heard) poor choices and bad behavior, and instead teach and motivate. Help these kids grow up and get ready for the real world. As adults, that’s our job.

  7. And at the end of the game, we can all hold hands and sing songs because we had fun and not worry about who won or lost…

    if the kid cursed at the ump then fine, he should have been tossed. however, calling out bad officiating is not making excuses for anything. Coach is right, more and more officials in every sport have no idea how the sport should be played nor understand the intensity of an athlete (or a coach) b/c most of them never played or were not an athlete.

Comments are closed.