And then there are my old friends, the umpires. If they won't let you show your players you're battling for them, they're cutting away at another source of your strength. In the old days, you used to be able to use some language. Now the minute you get there, they say, "Don't you open your mouth!" And right away, that's a challenge. What do they think I came out there for? Do they think I'm going to say, "Oh, I'm sorry..." and turn away? You open your mouth and you're gone. Their eyesight might leave something to be desired, but they all have 20/20 hearing. Since the owner isn't paying you to find out how many games you can get thrown out of, you find yourself laying back.
Of course, if I was as bad as most of today's umpires I'd want all the power I could get. There are some good ones, but more bad ones.
Protesting to league headquarters is a waste of time. You'd be just as well off if you put your protest in a bottle and threw it into the sea. They've got that one word in the umpires' vocabulary that covers everything: "Judgment." It doesn't matter how bad they blew it, it was the umpire's judgment. I had the classic of all time in Chicago in 1969, when we were in first place and fighting to stay there. We were a run behind the Giants in the last of the eighth. With Don Kessinger on first base and Glenn Beckert at bat I called for the hit-and-run, and Beckert hit the ball into the hole. The Giants' shortstop, Hal Lanier, had to reverse his field and make a backhanded stop. He had no play at second because Kessinger was around the base and Lanier's off-balance throw to first went into the dugout. The umpire already had signaled that Beckert had beaten the throw and the official scorer gave him a hit.
The way the rule book reads, a base runner is awarded two bases if all the base runners, including the batter, have advanced at least one base when an infielder makes a wild throw. The umpires didn't dispute that both runners had reached their target bases. Nevertheless, instead of scoring, Kessinger was sent back to third base, and Beckert back to second. We lost by a run. My protest was turned down. And this wasn't even a judgment play, it was a rule-book interpretation.
Nine days later we're trailing the Dodgers in Los Angeles by two runs and up comes a rerun of the same play. This time, it's Willie Davis of the Dodgers who hits a slow chopper into the hole on the hit-and-run. Willie Crawford is around second, Davis has the throw beaten at first and the ball goes into the dugout. The same play exactly.
And they allow Crawford to score.
Wellll.... "Oh, no you don't. I can't lose both of them, boys. That's the same play in Chicago where I was told the man stops at third. Now you tell me he scores."
I couldn't wait to wire my protest. A wire came back the same day disallowing it. I grabbed the phone and called Warren Giles at league headquarters in Cincinnati. He wasn't there. He was in Los Angeles. I didn't know that Giles was right there in the Biltmore Hotel with us. I hadn't known he had been at the game. I was screaming so loud that at least a dozen people told me afterward that you could hear me all over the hotel. "I can't lose both of them," I roared. "They're both the same play! I lost the first one, I got to win the other one! I must win one of them, Warren. I can't lose both!"
He said, "You're right, Leo. It's the same play but the umpires interpreted the rule different."
Huh? Now he was telling me that a rule-book interpretation was also subject to the umpire's judgment. There is no possible way you can win. I kept screaming at him, and he kept telling me I was absolutely right but he still wasn't going to overrule his umpires.