- TOP PLAYERSOffensePABLO S. TORRE | August 20, 2012
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I laughed when I read about coach Rex Ryan's efforts to instill a fighting mentality in his team (INSIDE THE NFL, Aug. 17). With that kind of "leadership" the Jets will remain a second-rate organization. By Week 8 I expect Ryan will be taking a page from father Buddy's playbook and putting out bounties on opponents. Maybe Ryan should concentrate more on the quality of his offense and defense.
Comparing NFL and MLB officials (POINT AFTER, Aug. 17) is comparing apples and kiwis. NFL fans are far removed from the action, and officials get lost in the melee; the referee is not required to make a call on every play. In baseball, with every pitch, the fans focus on the umpire and await his decision; this is particularly true on close plays, such as the simultaneous arrival of ball and runner at home plate. The umpire's adrenaline is probably pumping at the same rate as that of the catcher and the runner, so it is little wonder that the ump would release his tension by making a demonstrative motion of safe or out.
Officials, particularly umpires in baseball, are getting out of control. I predict that within the next few years you will see a fight break out between a player and an umpire. And the umpire very well might throw the first punch. (If you think that idea is a bit much, remember NBA ref Joey Crawford challenging Tim Duncan back in 2007.) I hope I'm wrong.
I'm 84 years old, and I can remember when baseball umpires wore dark suits, white shirts and ties and stayed out of the way except to make a call—and then it was nothing dramatic. I think the scene changed when games started being televised and umpires wanted their "act" on TV too. I suspect 50 years ago an ump would have been booed off the field for engaging in some of today's shenanigans.
While Phil Taylor points to NFL referees as the model for proper officiating, chair umpires in tennis are also worthy of praise. They must be ready to call every single line of every point. When things get heated, they have a standard procedure to follow before ejecting a player. Maybe that's why we never hear about how good a job these umpires do.
Taylor's desire for an invisibility-cloaked official is not one I share. Undoubtedly, a power-hungry, spotlight-seeking umpire is an unwelcome interference. But to lose the individuality of the umpire or referee, which can come through in a slightly varying strike zone or a more tightly called touch foul, threatens a part of the game's character. If we begin replacing personality with perfection, we might as well have computers doing all the work for us.
True, the Giants' Pablo Sandoval rarely sees a pitch he doesn't like to hit (In Praise of Men Who Swing from the Heels, Aug. 10). But in the last three months he has exercised some selectivity. He is third on the team with 34 walks, only three behind team leader Randy Winn. He's never going to be Barry Bonds [in regard to drawing walks], but he is starting to know the strike zone.
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