Umpires Aren’t Perfect, But Shouldn’t They Be?

I have always loved the game of baseball. As a youngster, I played Pee Wee baseball, Little League, Pony League and tons of backyard games with the neighborhood guys. My dad has been a lifelong Cincinnati Reds fan; so have I. In fact, I used to “live and die” with the Reds. Some of my great memories involve attending Reds games and listening to games on my transistor radio late into the night when the Reds played on the West Coast.

In my years following baseball at various levels, I have done my share of griping about the umpires and their ability to see clearly. I was at a minor league game one time when the umpires were making so many calls against the home team that the organist began to play “Three Blind Mice!” It’s weird, but the umpires didn’t find it as humorous as the rest of us!

Players and managers have been arguing with umpires from the inception of the game. From articles I’ve read and segments I’ve watched, the animosity between umpires and players and coaches is escalating. Some analysts believe that the umpires are become too aggressive; others put the blame on players and managers who are complaining too much. I don’t know, but here’s what I find interesting: no matter how you slice it, umpires are held to a higher standard than the players and managers.

When an umpire makes a bad call, the players argue and complain; they swear and yell. But when a player makes a key error no one goes out and yells at him. When a manager makes a poor tactical move that costs his team a game, the owner doesn’t go into the dugout and kick dirt on him. Let’s not even get into the fact that a successful hitter does something good only 30% of the time!

It’s sort of a study in general human nature, isn’t it? I mean, we tend to get upset when people in the church do something they shouldn’t. We are ready to confront them—or someone wants me to confront them. Let’s be honest; we might not struggle with the same sin, but we are struggling with some sin. And in our struggle with sin, even though we know that we deserve condemnation, aren’t we looking for grace? If we are looking for grace—patience, love, mercy—why are we sometimes hesitant to offer it?

It would do all of us good to remember the warning of Jesus: Do not judge others, and you will not be judged. For you will be treated as you treat others. The standard you use in judging is the standard by which you will be judged. And why worry about a speck in your friend’s eye when you have a log in your own? How can you think of saying to your friend, ‘Let me help you get rid of that speck in your eye,’ when you can’t see past the log in your own eye? Hypocrite! First get rid of the log in your own eye; then you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend’s eye (Matthew 7:1-5, NLT).

Let’s commit to be less judgmental of others—and it wouldn’t hurt to cut the umpires some slack too!