Author: Rob Anderson
I used to coach t-ball. For the most part, it was an enjoyable experience. Most of the coaches tried to help the players learn to play more than they tried to “win” the league. The league had a very tight policy against arguing—one could be tossed for even the slightest hint of disagreement with an umpire—and as a result, most of the games went off without a hitch. There was, however, as there always is, THAT coach. In fact, THAT coach was so despised, I overheard the umpire telling the scorekeeper before the game something to the effect of “I cannot stand THAT coach.”
Our team was up to bat first. Our lead off hitter lay down an incredible bunt. That is, if you could bunt in t-ball. He had actually swung with all his might and managed to barely move the ball off the tee. The thing he did have going for him was that although he was small, he was slow. Their pitcher picked up the ball and easily threw it to first, beating the runner by a step or two. THAT coach, who was at first immediately began high-fiving his player, only to hear the umpire yell:
THAT coach whipped around to look at the umpire.
THAT coach opened his mouth to argue.
And that umpire looked at him, arched her eyebrow ever so slightly, and although it was not audible, I would swear I heard her comment: Say something. PLEASE, say something!
Here’s what I did and did not learn that day. I did not learn that that umpire calls a fair ballgame. I did not learn there is no such thing as partiality in baseball. I did not learn to trust that umpire.
No, I learned that if you will be nice to the umpire, she will be nice to you.
I learned that the writer of proverbs was right:
To show partiality in judging is not good:
Whoever says to the guilty, “You are innocent,”
Will be cursed by peoples and denounced by nations. (Proverbs 24.23-24, NIV)
Although I tried to be nice to that umpire for the rest of my time in the league, I knew her judgment rested not on the performance of my players, but on my respect. And to be honest, it was hard to have any.