It’s been ten days since I made this pledge:
I’m going to try to go a month without bitching about umps/refs. And no passive-aggressive ‘I’m not saying anything’ tweets where you know exactly what I’m not saying. Gonna go all in on this.
— me, 5/19
This experiment is going so well, I must recommend it to all. It’s been a breeze and a joy.
Liberation and peace.
I’m approaching the games I watch now with the full expectation that there will be bad and missed calls. It’s a fundamental truth but yet so roundly unaccepted. Once this mindset is adopted, every aspect of the game-watching is improved. I can only describe it as liberating.
Take a baseball game for an example. MLB is creeping toward an average of 300 pitches per game. I found a datum saying that ~130 of those pitches are swung at. So.. of course the home plate umpire will not get 170 calls right. There’s no good in expecting different.
When you make your peace with this,,, all is light.
Miami Heat games provide excellent opportunities to put the
theory lifestyle to the test.
First, it spares you from needing to learn the myriad rules for where replay can be used in the NBA. Click the link at right, you’ll be surprised.
Second, only calls made can be reviewed, not non-calls. Thus the obviously missed 24 second call against the Pacers leading to directly to a 12-2 Heat run was not reviewable in spite of the imperative to get it right. But when you know going in that the rules are imperfect, you’re better prepared for such problems.
All of those background problems evaporate when on No Bitching Diet.
But beneficial aspects of the No Bitching Diet become even more apparent when the refs get it right. Take LeBron’s sixth foul.
LeBron obviously is not stationary in setting his pick and obviously steps out to bump Stephenson. But the ,, conditioning, I guess,, is so strong that even when the call is right, fandom doesn’t accept it. Gauging announcer and twitter reactions it started with “not a foul,” to “they usually let that call go,” to “that’s a tough call for a sixth.”
Here’s a frame-by-frame click through. I think it’s pretty obvious that it’s a foul and not only that, leads to a scoring opportunity. In other words, it’s a foul that gives the Heat an open look with a minute left in a close game. It’s EXACTLY why the game has rules, fouls, and refs to adjudicate them.
Same thing happened on a traveling call on Wade. He travelled. He did. My twitter timeline was appalled.
First, I don’t see why a wrong policy (swallowing the whistle at end of games) should be so enshrined. Second, isn’t the whole ‘two sets of rules’ one of the chief problems in officiating for all sports? Whether it’s the benefit of doubt granted to the star or ‘letting em play’ late in games, it’s not good policy to open up such vast areas of gray. Do you see how black has become white here?
Even Brian Windhorst called out the refs in his own squishy way.
There were some mysterious missed calls and moments when officials seemed to get caught up in the crowd, got intimidated by coaches or even inexplicably showed one another up by overruling calls. All in all, their being in the spotlight so much is not the desire of the NBA, its fans or the officials themselves. …. Heat fans might rage on for days about LeBron James fouling out in the final minute on a screen that referees usually let go in that spot. They’ll gripe about a 50/50 travel call on Dwyane Wade a few moments later that pretty much ended the game when a Shane Battier 3-pointer was disallowed.
Focusing on the reffing takes the focus off some stellar play by the Pacers in general and Roy Hibbert in particular. (Sure would be great to have a solid “5” in the Cavs’ lineup no?)
Focusing on the wrongness of refs making the right calls at wrong times or against the wrong players is beyond the beyond.
Not to worry, still plenty to complain about.
Hey. Gus. Learn how to pronounce the name of the pre-eminent French soccer player in the world before you do a broadcast in front of millions of people. Franck REE-ber-REE.
And get the Chancellor of Germany right too, while you’re at it.
And right on cue:
UPDATE: Grantland predictably weighs in with… The Officiating Debacle.
… The screen James set was probably illegal; you’re not supposed to spread your feet as wide apart as James did, and he moved a smidgen in Stephenson’s direction while setting the pick. Those things are against the rules. But guess what? Players set illegal screens on almost every possession.
Courageous hot sports take there Zach Lowe.
WE WENT THERE.
Grantland. The Edward R. Murrow investigative organization for sports interwebs.
Yes, as long as ESPN and its scoldy hipsters like Zach Lowe are around to sanctimoniously tell us how weird the Cavs are at the draft and inform us of how when and where fouls should be called, there will be plenty to complain about beyond refs.
I WENT THERE.
UPDATE #2: Deadspin: Nobody Can Hijack A Playoff Game Quite Like An NBA Referee Can
Up next with a take indistinguishable from Lowe.
And then there’s LeBron’s moving screen. Yes, LeBron spread his feet out a little too wide, and he may have edged himself into Lance Stephenson just a bit, but there are scores of screens just like that one set in every NBA game, and almost all of them go uncalled.
Yes it’s a foul but don’t call it because it’s late in a close game and it’s LeBron.
UPDATE #3: Add SBNation to list.
HEY LOOK — WE DONT LIKE JOEY CRAWFORD EITHER!
Sorry SBNation… you’re late to the table with your ref rage. Better step your game up.
As Bill Simmons would say: Yep, those are your internet sports news sources!