Originally Posted by FlightRick
Not to take sides, but: I've also umpired (sorry, I have no pictures, so you have to take my word for it), and it may not be "easy." But if you're relatively quick on the uptake, and have decent judgment, it's also not "hard."
By this, I mean, it's not hard to do the job. If you've got thin skin or an otherwise susceptible temperament, it might still be hard to deal with frivolous disputes to your calls.
I'll be the second person that states, that, then. If you do your job well, and augment that with some interpersonal skills, there will not be ugliness 99% of the time. Literally: I only got the "ugly" once per season if I rounded up.
And yet: if you do a good job, an edge is less necessary, grasshopper. </zenbuddha>
Of course you do. But when is that "necessary?" If you're doing it to save face or protect an image of authority, then you're 50% of the reason you're "losing control." It takes two to tango. And the ump should never tango.
My umpiring career sounds a lot like yours. I just kept doing it for a few more years at the end, since it really was fun and "easy" money until I sustained an injury.
That said, I strongly dispute the idea that there's some correlation between "on field politeness" and "being a weak umpire." In fact, I always found that sanctioning a coach or player in my Most Polite Voice -- on top of a track record of being a very good ump who gets calls right -- was about 17000% more effective than any of my colleagues who would threaten or intimidate in response to a dispute. When the ump who never makes a scene tells you, quite respectfully but sternly, to shut the hell up or else, it works.
But if you go looking for the fight, or facilitate the other guy's fight instead of shutting it down, that's where things get ugly and you have to toss somebody. And I have always tried to avoid tossing someone unless I thought I missed a call; if I know I'm right, why not let them make themsleves look stupid up to the point where they negatively impact the gameplay? I could explain this better, but it's 2am, and I was actually at the game today, and just got back home after a very long day...
Yeah, but if you did the job well, who cares what they think? That's kind of the core of my point, and maybe we actually agree on the main point: SOMEbody can always find fault. But a lot of times, SOMEbody's opinion really doesn't matter, because they're wrong. This is why you don't have to umpire with an iron fist: unless you are thin-skinned drama queen, you don't have to ump every game like it's the 7th game of the World Series and you're some kind of delicate porcelian doll whose authority cannot ever be questioned.
Again, we have "career" simiarlities. My brother actually went to the Wendelstat camp. Nothing came of it. I didn't even go. It does seem like thankless work where advancement is 80% politics and 20% performance. And even when you're "advancing," I think you have to put in at least 12-15 years in the minors, right?
What's the youngest age where you can reach MLB? Anyone have that data? I think the dozen years of poverty-level work in the minors is a pretty big detriment to your more able umps... there might be some old school mind set that this is "paying your dues" and it's a character building experience, but c'mon: you've got an umpires' union that is protecting the jobs of tenured dimwits, so what capable young ump is gonna put up with the "due paying" when he's still got that hurdle at the end of his decade-long struggle?
I digress. If I had a point, it was: "Umpiring isn't easy. But it's also not THAT hard, unless you're taking yourself and your job way too seriously." Or something like that....