Feeling a little bogged down by the Rockies current struggles that include but are not limited to key injuries and losing ballgames in which the starting pitcher nearly no-hit the opposing team? Me too. Still mad at "Balkin" Bob Davidson for giving the Nationals a run in what I have come to call the "tri-injury nightmare game from hell?" Well, it's time to channel all of that energy into something completely different.
This week's PHI centers around an idea I have been working on, in some ways, nearly all season. Anyone who has read my thoughts here on Purple Row knows that I am not shy about my distaste for many aspects of umpiring in today's game. Another way to put it might be that I'm a loud mouth (loud typer?) who won't stop complaining about the officials. Either way, during a particularly difficult to deal with rash of terrible calls, I wondered, "who would win a tournament of bad umpires?"
I tentatively titled the idea the Bad Umpire Tournament. Clever, I know. At least it was sophomorically funny to me to call it BUT. But naturally, this is Purple Row and someone was bound to out-haze me on this one. As I began wondering aloud (or, again, in print) about who would be the top seeds in such a tournament, community member ES46NE10 made a final adjustment to the title. So I present to you...
Idea #1: The Baseball Umpire Terribad Tournament (BUTT)
It didn't occur to me until I started developing this idea that it might be quite the involved project depending on how far I (or we as a community) want to take it. The execution may be difficult, but the idea is simple. You take the 16, or 32 worst umpires in baseball based on some subjective criteria, then you rank them (seeding) and then you either have people vote to see who "wins." Think of it like the NCAA March Madness tournament, but with bad umpires.
Sounds simple enough, right? Well, I've definitely run into a few snags. First of all, after the first 8-10 umpires it gets sorta, uh, hazy. It's a little bit like doing the PuRPs list but without any actual data -- which reminds me of a mini-Purple Hazed Idea: Fangraphs pages for umpires. But obviously, a fair amount of this was going to end up being subjective anyway.
Other questions of a pragmatic nature arise. Do we really go to 32 umpires with the understanding that guy No. 32 is actually probably a pretty decent ump (Tim McClelland maybe?) and will probably just get destroyed in the first round by Angel Hernandez? Do we slim it down to 16? Doesn't that somehow feel less epic? Also, Drew is bad at visual representations of things (yes I just referred to myself in the third person). For something like this it would be really nice to have a clean, easy to read bracket to look at with pictures of each umpire's signature strikeout call where a team logo would normally go. This would require more visual flair than I have.
The last pragmatic flaw I ran into was the fact that I may be the only person who thinks this is fun or funny or a good idea or worth anyone's time or not in some way jinxing the team into bad officiating. I can deal with the shame of being ridiculous, don't get me wrong, but in order for this to work (and to be worth the time it would take to actually put the whole thing together) I would need a decent amount of community participation.
Let me get things started by offering up the high seeds and you can be let it known below whether or not this segment will have a future.
#1 Angel Hernandez
Angel Hernandez is the poster child for BUTT. He is the kind of umpire who thinks people come to baseball games to watch him call players out with flair. He is the kind of umpire who instigates arguments rather than trying to shut them down. He gets in players and coaches faces when proving the point that he is in charge, and exemplifies the idea that umpires believe being "shown up" as though they are actually a part of the show. Hernandez has on multiple occasions gotten the call wrong even after going to the replay. He even has his very own, special, signature pic here on Purple Row ... yes, Angel Hernandez is an ass.
#2 "Balkin'" Bob Davidson
When you have a universally known affinity toward being a particular kind of ass, you earn a special place in the first annual BUTT. Davidson may even have a chance of knocking off powerhouse Hernandez in a Rockies community vote considering the debacle just a few days ago at Coors. Lest we think that his BUTT credentials be limited to calling balks, I've noticed that he is pretty bad at a lot of the smaller touch calls (he also enjoys calling catcher and base-path interference.) It seems to me that Bob Davidson thinks it is his job to remind everyone else of all the tiny rules in baseball that are usually let go in order to preserve the spirit of the law and of the game. Bob is more concerned with the letter of the law, and making sure that we all know that he know it.
#3 Joe West
Again, this is pretty subjective, but Joe West seems to be just one of the worst umpires, especially in terms of balls and strikes, at simply staying consistent. He is one of those umpires you can count on to call the situation instead of the facts. He will give the pitcher a strike on a pitch three inches outside if the count is 3-0. He also has one of the most annoyingly emphatic strikeout calls, which makes his floating zone approximately 7,000 times more irritating.
#4 Phil Cuzzi
Pretty much everything I just wrote about Joe West, but with a quicker trigger.
If you, the Purple Row community, wish to see much more, and deeper, analysis of this idea, I will need your input. I will gladly be the monkey that turns this organ grinder if it seems like something people would actually be interested in. Please let me know in the poll below and even feel free to submit your own brackets or PuRPs style list of umpires. If we decide to go through with this, I will make update PHI each week with the newest head-to-head match-up in the First Annual Baseball Umpire Terribad Tournament.