Saturday, May 23, 2009

Lakers vs. Denver - An Embarrassment

Ever since my three sons were involved in sports, I've made it a point of honor not to badger or run down game officials. The closest I ever got was in one of our oldest son Tighe's baseball games. The ump decided before the first pitch was thrown that the other team was going to win. We found out later that he lived in the other town and had a nephew on the team. That's not what I call fair. Even had I known that then, I had my rules.

I'll give you an example from that game. There was a runner on 2nd base. It was a very windy day and Tighe was pitching. He's left handed, so he was facing first base. The wind blew his hat off and he made an instinctive grab for it. He stepped from the mound as he grabbed. The ump called him for a balk, giving the runner 3rd base. (What?) You get the idea. The whole game was like that. We lost, of course. It's hard to win when the other team owns the umpire; I'm not even sure we would have taken that game if the calls were fair. We'll never know, will we?

I do have a temper, and I'd been holding it in for the whole game, since I have those rules. However, when I reached my car, there was the umpire, parked right next to our car. He was stripping out of his gear at the trunk of his car. I couldn't resist. I walked up to him, and in a very polite voice, I said, "Don't let anyone get you down, sir. Umpiring is a very difficult job. You just keep trying, and you'll eventually learn how to do it properly." Then I got in my car, and waited for Tighe to leave the dugout and join me.

Tonight's basketball game, Lakers versus Nuggets, left me feeling the same way. I live in Colorado, and try to support the local teams. Tonight, though, it became impossible to route for Denver. They had the refs so firmly on their side, I couldn't believe it. Long before halftime I was routing for LA to beat the pants off of them, just to prove to the officials that you can't change the outcome of a game by allowing yourselves to officiate with blinders on. 

There were so many blatantly bad calls that we replayed some four or five times, just to see if we were wrong. Did we miss something? Going blind perhaps? Could they really strong-arm from behind and not get called? Throw an elbow and have a technical called on the one hit? It was disturbing. 

Tighe tells me Denver is called the Thuggets around the league because they play like a bunch of thugs. I sure saw that side of them tonight. I've been doing too much writing and music, and missing too many games. I was ashamed of Denver's sportsmanship, embarrassed by the officiating, and justified by the Laker victory.

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