If your an American, you watch baseball. If you don’t, you’re probably a terrorist or a socialist of some kind. Anyway, if you watch baseball you probably have noticed in the past couple of years how bad the umpiring has gotten. (Unless you watch baseball in California. Then you watch only when other people yell at the screen and interrupt your dialogue on wine and politics. Or when your team just wins the World Series. That’s right.) It has been so bad at times that it can lead one to believe- and the ‘one’ in this case is me- that they are doing it on purpose in order to expand instant replay and drag baseball unnecessarily along into the 21st century. Anyway, with all this bad umpiring going on it can lead one to think- and the ‘one’ in this case is once again me- about maybe firing an umpire. Which then leads one further to think- again me- what if there was an out of work umpire? Just roaming the streets, not knowing what to do, not knowing anything but umpiring. So this jobless ump walks around all day looking for situations in public life where he can interject and make a call. What kind of things would he be able to judge? Would he make only ‘safe’ and ‘you’re out!’ calls? Or would he also call balls and strikes? Now that I think of it, he probably could call balls and strikes because there would inevitably be a time when he would come upon a guy trying to hook up with a girl or get her number and when he failed- even though she’s pushing 34, is out of work and feels the need to breed- he could say ‘strike three! you’re out!’ OK. Let’s see what other kinds of situations our unemployed, hopeless umpire might run into….
Let’s say there’s a bus that has pulled up to a stop. People get off and then people file in. Someone is running, this is happening in the morning, to catch the bus to work. The bus driver can see the person running in his/her direction but decides to act totally oblivious (why do they do that?). However, this runner makes it just in time so that the driver has only had the door closed about 3 seconds and the runner is persistently yelling, “open the door! let me in! why do bus drivers always do this?! I know you saw me running!’ And the driver relents, with an inward smile, and the runner makes the bus in time. Our umpire is standing there watching this- not getting on the bus, he just has nothing to do- and makes the call: “SAFE!” The driver shakes his head.
Oh, here’s one. Let’s remember that our umpire has the authority to throw someone out of a game. Let’s say there’s a scene in a supermarket. The ump is on line buying diet coke and Doritos (Doritos was actually on spell check, for real) for breakfast and the guy in front of him is arguing with the clerk that he didn’t get the right amount of change. At first he is polite but he becomes increasingly incensed by the clerks refusal to even hear him out. Finally he yells out, “just give me my fucking change old man!”. Yep, our ump steps in and delivers the verdict: “You! You’re outta here!” And he tosses the disgruntled corporate supermarket shopper outta the store.
Let’s say there is a couple out on a date, guy and a girl. They are walking into a restaurant- the ump is smoking by the front door, not because he is eating there, he just has nothing else to do and as he was walking by he heard that they were playing smooth jazz and so he stopped by for a smoke- and the guy does not wax chivalrous by opening the door for his powdered maid. The ump notices the dismayed look on the damsel”s face and makes the call: ‘strike one!’.
Our ump is hanging out on a street corner talking to a hot dog vender, watching the foot traffic. Down one street he sees a guy walking towards the intersection, obviously hungover at 2:30 on a Sunday afternoon, with two large pizzas balanced in the palm on his hand. Down the adjoining street is an out of work environmentalist consultant jogging to keep fit because she’s pushing 34 and isn’t pregnant yet. The ump sees that the timing is working out so that the pizza loser and the non-pregnant woman are set to run into each other at the intersection of the two streets. The not-yet-knocked-up jogger runs smack into the pizza guy. They tumble to the ground, and the guy drops the pizzas. Our ump makes the call: she’s safe! He dropped the pizza. As the two are nervously apologizing, the dude makes a bold play and asks for the girls number. She scoffs and keeps on jogging. The ump looks at the dude: You! You’re out! He doesn’t protest the call. However, she regrets her rash decision, granted that she thought the guy was kind of cute and bold for asking her number on such a lark and that it could have been ‘fate’. This is exactly why she isn’t a mother yet. She’s struck out. The ump knows this and, pointing in her direction, yells ‘strike 436!’ as she walks away. She doesn’t hear him over her Britney Spears, but she hears him all the same.
Take Your Base. Our ump is on line in an ice cream shop. In front of him is a guy in his late 30s with his cute blondey headed 8 year old boy. The boy, in near incomprehensible English, orders a cone of booger snots and scabs ice cream to go with his dads cone of regret. As they are being rung up, the ice cream clerk tells the guy that the cone for his son is on the house, no charge. (It’s uncertain whether he had a thing for the little boy or if he wanted to be the little boy so he could be molested by his father, our ump is not sure.) Our ump, seeing all of this, points to the boy and says, ‘take your base!’
Our ump is back at the hot dog stand. Nicolo, the owner of said hot dog stand, and him have gotten close. Nic- for short- he’s a good guy. He can curse in seven different languages. Only one of them the umpire suspects is an actual language. But, he gives him a free hot dog everytime he makes the right call. So naturally they are pals. One day the ump is watching traffic mindlessly when he sees that a bicyclist- or whatever they’re called- didn’t see that the light turned yellow because he had headphones in so that he could listen to the latest Britney Spears in hopes that he will be inspired to generate a marketing strategy to string Campbell’s Tomato Soup unnecessarily along into the 21st century. The ump sees that a taxi is getting ‘last licks’ on the yellow light and takes a left turn going 45. He plows right into the oblivious bicycle rider in the aerodynamic schmuck-gear who smashes his head on the hood of the car before tumbling over the windshield, bouncing over the roof, makes a horrific noise with his head on the trunk and then leaves the witnesses no doubt that his skull was crushed when he hits the ground. The ump almost chokes on his hot dog, but during the stunned hush of traffic and pedestrians, summons up enough oxygen to make the call: GAME OVER!