Put Me In, Coach

Late last night, an announcement was made that the NFL had reached an agreement with its locked-out referees.  This marks the first time that officials in a sport have received louder cheers from the fans than they give for the players.  It’s likely that no one would have really noticed that the NFL’s official officials were off the job, had their replacements not screwed up as frequently and as obviously as they did.

This was one for the ages.

Yet I hold a tiny bit of empathy for the replacement refs.  If nothing else, they demonstrated just how hard the job of officiating a game actually is; and that got me thinking.  There’s no chance I could ever play a professional sport…but could I officiate one?

When considering the four major American sport leagues, my options are narrowed down pretty quickly.  I can’t skate, so there goes hockey.  I don’t know enough about basketball to call anything more than traveling or a three-second violation.  Plus, I’d probably get winded real fast moving up and down the court.  I think officiating basketball would be like doing the world’s longest shuttle run, and that would make me loathe to suit up and don my whistle.  Football has a thicker rule book than the Securities and Exchange Commission does, and the corresponding sign language would stymy even Helen Keller.  Plus, there’s entirely too much to keep track of on the field at any given moment.  So that leaves baseball.

Should Major League Baseball ever find itself in a situation where they needed me to be an umpire, I think they’d be in good hands.  I wouldn’t go so far as to say I could lead the crew and call balls and strikes from behind home plate.  For one thing, I doubt I could accurately judge the placement of a baseball as it came towards me in excess of 80 miles per hour.  For another, home plate umpires take the most shit.  Sure, you can toss a guy from the game if he’s giving you too much lip, but truthfully, if I had someone like Brett Lawrie or Ozzie Guillen screaming in my face, I’d probably just collapse into the fetal position outside the batter’s box.

I couldn’t be the first base umpire.  Too many close calls there, which could also lead to confrontation.  Second base umpire doesn’t seem as stressful, but you constantly have to be getting out of the way of the action.  It wouldn’t be too long before I got clocked with a line drive or tripped up Chase Utley on his way to throw the double play to first.  So that leaves me at third.  Third base seems like a good fit.  You stand in foul territory, so you can’t really louse up a play.  Statistically, there are far fewer close calls to be made on that side of the ballpark.  Your only real moments of judiciary supremacy come from a checked swing.  And depending on your schedule, you’d be guaranteed at least a few nights standing next to these handsome fellas.

But what about the other popular sports in America?  Could I earn my zebra stripes as a ref in one of those?  Soccer’s out.  If I couldn’t handle running the hardwood at an NBA game, I’d be hard pressed to keep up on a playing field as massive as soccer’s.  Golf doesn’t have referees, thank God.  Can you imagine?  That’d be just about the only way to make golf more boring.  There are no refs in NASCAR because there are no rules in NASCAR–and at the risk of losing my redneck readership, it isn’t a sport anyway.  I’m entirely too squeamish to call a boxing or MMA match.  So that leaves me with one other alternative.

Yes, tennis.  And I wouldn’t be one of the line judges in the back court.  No, sir.  I’d be the chair umpire.  Why?  You get to sit in a giant lifeguard’s chair, which is not only shaded but full of hiding places for snacks and beverages.  You get a ridiculously large microphone.  You govern not only the behavior of the players, but of the crowd , as well.  And you’re in an excellent position to throw things at those poor orphans the ATP uses to scurry after balls when they’re hit into the net.


(I’m kidding about the orphan thing.  Maybe.)

Even if it would be fun to umpire in baseball or tennis, I think I’ll leave it to the professionals for now.  Besides, there are plenty of things I already excel at judging: musicals, cake, and, generally, people.  Why would I leave all that behind?

~ T


Pick the Pros – Week 9

It was another week of change in the Pick the Pros tournament.  Congratulations to Steve, who was the winner with 11 correct picks.  Steve’s leap in the standings was accompanied by some major falls.  It was a bad week to be stuck with the home teams.  Brian and Connor slid further down the ladder and Kelly is now alone in the basement.  And Patrice’s reign of terror atop the leader board is over.  Cindy & John and Carly now share first place overall.  Elsewhere, Mark and Harry held steady at the front of the pack, while Annie & Vicke started to rebound after last week’s disaster.  Check out the standings.

Despite all the shake-ups of the past two weeks, I have to commend everyone on some smart picking.  Throughout the season, things have been kept at a consistent ten point spread.  This is still anyone’s trophy to win.

~ T

Pick the Pros – Week 8

Howdy, armchair quarterbacks.  Just thought I’d quickly catch you up on where things stand in the football pool.

This was a big week.  We’re at the halfway point of the season, and the standings have just been majorly shook up.  Congratulations to Cindy & John, who won this week with 11.  Absenteeism seemed to have benefited a number of players this week: Carly is now tied for second, Tom remains in the front of the pack, and Bob has finally climbed out of last place!  On the other side of the coin, Katie‘s best efforts to be punctual resulted in a lackluster week, and she is now riding in the caboose.  Annie & Vicke, perhaps still recovering from an afternoon of slapping the bag, took a dramatic tumble in the standings.  And Patrice remains unchallenged at the top of the heap!

It’s been an interesting season so far.  Who knows what might happen in Week 9?

~ T

Pick the Pros – Week 7

Another week of football, another shake-up in the Pick the Pros standings!

Congratulations to Carly, who was the week’s sole winner.  This is her second weekly win (consecutive victories, might I add).  This has placed her in a tie for second place overall with Harry.  Who’s in first?  Patrice is!  She finished second to Carly this week, but maintains an overall lead by one point.

Last week’s other winners, Tom and Cindy & John, took a big dive and are now fending off a four-way tie right behind them.  Kelly took a tumble, and Connor and Katie were both absentees this week.  It was Katie’s fourth offense, and as such she was sentenced with the away teams, which clearly hurt her in the standings.  And still surging out of the basement is Bob!

As for the news in NFL itself, the big stories were once again injuries.  Brett Favre and Tony Romo both played the part of the wounded warrior this week.  Romo’s injury was far more serious, but who knows if Favre will exacerbate his ankle with his bull-headed stubbornness.


Apparently, Big Brett shares my affinity for getting nauseous before big events

Stay tuned for next week’s Halloween special!

~ T

Pick the Pros – Week 6

Greetings, sports fans and gambling enthusiasts!  Just stopping by to file a quick and belated report on the Pick the Pros standings.

Congratulations to Carly, Cindy & John, and Tom, who all share weekly win honors this week.  This was Carly’s first win, Cindy & John’s second, and Tom’s third–very impressive, considering we’re only seven weeks into the season.  This was also Tom’s second consecutive weekly win.

Despite this, the competition remains close.  Patrice and Kelly may have forgotten their picks, but they still earned 8 points each.  Bob placed second this week with 9.  Is this start of a comeback?  Connor was the first to be penalized with the away teams for his absence, and as such has taken a tumble in the standings.

Stay tuned for next week’s update!

~ T

Pick the Pros – Week 5

The leader board is spread a little thinner after Week 5 of the NFL season.  Congratulations to Patrice and Tom who tied for the week with 10, earning their second weekly win each.

There were some very close games this week, but I think the majority of props have to go to the New York Jets for playing through–and winning in–a ridiculous hailstorm.


New York Jets - Folk yeah!

Check out the pool standings below.  Who will be next to break out of the pack?


~ T

Pick the Pros – Week 4

A very strange week for the Pick the Pros competition.  Nine people shared weekly win honors, and five of them didn’t even hand in their picks!  So, congrats Pam, Bob, Steve, and Mark for your smart choices…and congrats Patrice, Brian, Kelly, Connor, and Katie for your incredible luck.

The only satisfaction that I personally got out of this week was being the only one to correctly choose the Ravens over the Steelers.  Thanks, Ray Lewis!  I’m glad you’re not in prison.

Apparently, you're very glad about it, too.

Check out the standings below.  It’s a tight race!  Could next week thin the herd?

~ T