I received an interesting phone call from my friend Phil last week. I hadn't heard much from Phil, but he called me in the middle of a ferry ride to San Francisco to tell me that he was reading a book called Moneyball by Michael Lewis, and that he was sure that I'd enjoy it. I'm a hundred or so pages into it now, and I must agree, I do like it.
This morning I was catching up on Baseball tonight to see what went on with baseball yesterday. I mostly wanted to see what happened yesterday when Reggie Jackson's number 9 was retired over in Oakland before the Athletics-Royals matchup, but in skipping through it, I caught an editorial by Rob Dibble on the state of umpiring. Rob seems to think that if you've got a Roger Clemens on the mound, the umpire should defer to the pitcher and "not change the course of the game" by calling the strike zone as he sees it.
Pardon me, but why have umpires at all if that's the case?
I think that umpires should be ruthless in their strike zone: establish it early, try to hold it, and don't let who is on the mound or at the plate dictate whether you are going to call something a ball or a strike. Clemens doesn't need your charity: he should not get the benefit of the doubt anymore than a first year rookie. What you've done before is all history. If you are a great pitcher, you have to prove it each and every time you come to the mound.
As a fairly recently evolved fan of baseball, I had never heard of Dibble, but after this diatribe it seemed rather obvious to me that he probably was a pitcher. Sure enough, he pitched for the Reds from 1988 to 1993, and had a reputation for a wicked fastball and pitching at people with little provocation. He was also reprimanded for throwing a ball into the stand and hitting a first grade teacher. Nice. I don't think I'm a fan.