April 28, 2011

What's with the baseball umpires?

Jim Joyce, after making his fatal call.
I love baseball but have no fondness for umpires. I would like to see them all sacked. We can track the ball with computers now so we know for sure when the ball hits or misses the strike zone -- so why is there still an ump at home plate? I could see keeping a few of them around for odd situations -- like a fight, for instance -- but that's it.

My complaints don't stop there. That's Jim Joyce in the picture. My beef with him is not that he ruined Gallaraga's no-hitter with a missed call. That's just one of those things. But why, please god why, does this man sound like a wounded hog when he makes the calls? Have you heard his calls? They don't sound human.

Beyond this complaint (and all the bad calls; don't get me started), I don't understand why the home plate umpires yell something other than "ball" or "strike" after a pitch. It's a binary choice, no? Yet it seems they choose any old rude sound they want -- and bellow it out for the rest of their lives. What are they doing? If you want to keep these relics in the game, make them say "strike" or "ball" -- and make them say it clearly. After all, they each make up their own versions of the hand signals too. One guy points, another punches the air, one calls balls while another doesn't, etc. It's a mixed-up mess.

And don't you love it when the umpires review a call? En masse, they trot off to a TV to watch a replay -- the same one we've seen five times; the one that shows it's definitely a home run -- and they come back and say it's a double. How can this be? Reality is reality, no? Apparently not, when you're an ump.

Nope. No fondness for the umps here. Absolutely none. I say "tro da bums out!"

PS: I've got a ton of baseball talk in my trusty notebook, just itchin' to go out to you. I can feel a baseball-language post coming on. Hang on! It's coming.


Artichoke Annie said...

False Splitting? - I thought the guy said False Spitting!

Word History: Had it not been for the linguistic process known as false splitting or juncture loss, the angry, anguished cry "Kill the ump" could have been "Kill the nump." In the case of umpire we can almost see this process in action by studying the Middle English Dictionary entry for noumpere, the Middle English ancestor of our word. Noumpere comes from the Old French nonper, made up of non, "not," and per, "equal": as an impartial arbiter of a dispute between two people, the arbiter is not equivalent to or a partisan of either of them. In Middle English the earliest recorded form is noumper (about 1350); the earliest dated form without an n is owmpere, from 1440. How the n was lost can be seen if we compare the sequence a noounpier in a text written in 1426-1427 with the sequence an Oumper from a text written probably around 1475. The n of noumpere has here become attached to the indefinite article, giving us an instead of a and, eventually, umpire instead of *numpire. The same process of false splitting is responsible for the forms apron and adder, originally napron and naddre, as well as many other words that once began with n. False splitting also caused some words that originally began with vowels to have an n from a preceding indefinite article added on, such as nickname (from the phrase an eke name) and newt (from an eute).

Source: The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition copyright ©2000 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Updated in 2009. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.

writenow said...

That's great. False splitting is like the opposite of noncing (to then eynes/ to the neynes). I never thought to look the word up. Not equal. Very good. I like that. But they still stink.

Artichoke Annie said...

K - ROFL...

Maybe they should try it out one game, no umps, and see how it played. It worked for us kids at the playground.