Kent Bush: Team’s revenge on umpire shameful
If I could steal one guy's job -- and talent -- it would be Rick Reilly.
For years, Reilly was the anchor of Sports Illustrated. His columns were found on the last page of the magazine.
Now, like almost everything of value in the sports world, financial gravity has drawn him into the ESPN Empire.
This week, Reilly discusses a high school state championship game in Georgia. Well, he discussed one pitch from that game. (Check out his column at http://sports.espn.go.com/espnmag/story?id=3450245&lpos=spotlight&lid=tab2pos1.)
The pitch in question occurred when Stephens County High School already trailed 9-1. Of course it was the umpire's fault. No umpire ever helped a team win a game, but few baseball teams have ever lost without it being at least in part due to an unqualified or biased umpire.
The SCHS pitcher unleashed a fastball. The catcher dropped to the ground in an apparent attempt to catch a gopher. Unfortunately for the umpire, who was the subject of ridicule and scorn from the SCHS team and fans, the fastball hit him directly in his protective mask.
He was stunned by the impact and even sought medical treatment after the game.
The catcher said the pitcher crossed him up. He expected a curveball and simply misplayed the pitch. The only people buying what he's selling are from Stephens County, Ga.
You can watch the video for yourself at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-tsFSALrA1o. Needless to say, this catcher won't win an Espy for his athletic prowess. He also has no shot at an Oscar for his acting ability.
It was so obvious that the state's athletic association put the school on severe warning and fined them $1,000.
But there is one point everyone in this situation is missing. Watch the end of the video. You can see the crowd from SCHS -- decked out in hometown red and white --applauding the assault on the umpire. Several wore broad smiles or were laughing.
This was premeditated, if not re-enacted. I don't think this was the first time these kids pulled this off. At the minimum, it had been discussed at length.
Everyone in the crowd seemed to be in on the joke.
The fans should have been ashamed that their team behaved in such a way. But their embarrassment of losing a state championship was allayed by getting back at an umpire by assaulting him with a direct shot to the head.
The state association was right to punish this school.
It is too bad no one punished the players, parents and fans.
They should share some of the blame.