Just now a referee in the Michigan/S. Carolina game called a non first down a first down. The announcer said something like, "Everyone I've ever met would say that was not a first down." I've never met the announcer, and I am no expert! But! I would be one of those people who knew it wasn't a first down. The ball was a few inches behind that thing they measure a first down with when it's close. It was close but not that close at all. The referee blew it. He called it a first down and no one reversed it, so the game continued. Michigan 1st and 10.
I goofed once when I was a referee. Well, I wasn't a referee, I was the third base coach at one of my son's little league baseball games. The boys were probably eight at the time. How I got picked to be the third base coach, I'll never know.
I was just going to write that our team was up to bat. But I wouldn't have been the third base coach if our team was not up to bat. Am I right?
So, let me repeat: How I got picked to be the third base coach, I'll never know.
Am I right?
Lots of exciting things were happening! Pop outs! Ground outs! Strike outs! Tyler was on first, finally, and Kyle was up to bat. The crowd was roaring, going wild! Kyle was a slugger and parents were yelling at Tyler from the stands: "Get ready, Tyler! Stop staring out at the parking lot for no reason!" Kyle connected, the ball soared to center field. People started yelling, "Run Tyler! Run!" I watched Kyle round first and Tyler round second as the crowd yelled, "Run, Tyler! Run! Keep going! Keep going!" I took this Keep going! Keep going! as my direction to think that Tyler should... Keep going!
I think I might have also been suffering at the time from a fantasy of being a great third base coach who makes the right call. Not that before that exact moment I had ever actually had a fantasy about being any sort of third base coach at all.
As the crowd roared in unison, "Keep going, Tyler! Keep going!" I jumped back as Tyler tagged third and I yelled, "Keep going, Tyler! Go, go, go!" And made that wooshing motion with my arms that indicated that he should... Keep going! Go, go, go!
And then I suddenly realized that he should not keep going! He should stop, stop, stop! My fantasy was quickly turning into a nightmare. The pitcher had the ball! He was running toward home! The catcher looked like he knew how to catch a ball that the pitcher would toss at him! I started yelling, "Stop, Tyler, stop! Come back, Tyler, come back!" But he just... kept going!
The roaring from the stands was deafening which was probably why Tyler couldn't hear my extremely accurate third base coaching instructions. So I did the only thing I could think to do. I took off after him, picked him up by the back of the shirt and the waistband of his pants, ran back to third base, and plunked him down on it.
He was in shock. I was in shock. And the parents in the stands were in shock. Except for one dad who was laughing his head off. I don't remember who he was but I'll always have a special place in my heart for him.
So, while one of those S. Carolina Incredible Hulks probably wanted to grab that referee by the back of the shirt and the waistband of his pants and cram him head first into that space that indicated how short of a first down it actually was, give the guy a break. A few plays later, Michigan fumbled (or something) and S. Carolina ended up scoring.
We all make bad calls sometimes. Whatya gonna do? Keep going, that's what.