OutKick founder Clay Travis, who received a huge pile of f-you money when he sold this website to Fox News Corp., decided to flaunt his power Sunday during an 11U Little League baseball game when he said, "You've gotta be f--king kidding me" over a call where an umpire ruled his son out for catcher interference on an attempted pick off throw down to third base.
Clay dubbed it, "the worst umpire call in Little League history."
The umpire, clearly not in the mood to hear it, gave Clay the yer outta here heave-ho, and now Clay's sitting on a video explanation that blue checkmarks have been hammering for days.
Now it's time to hear from umpires in the business who have to deal with Clays on a daily basis on how they would've handled this situation.
First up, we have Brett G. of the Northwest Arkansas Umpires Association:
Hey, Joe. I am an elite fastpitch softball umpire based in Northwest Arkansas. I have 20+ years of experience calling all classes of softball throughout the Midwest and South including high school and college softball.
I do not care whether the umpire was “right” or “wrong” in his rulings. We do not know what actually happened with the plays because the video (There definitely is video) is not being shared, and we are only hearing the side of an aggrieved, overwrought sports parent whose kid was called out on a “bad call.” Clay spoke at length about umpires not interjecting themselves into games. The problem with his argument is that we, as umpires, have this thing called a rule book, and depending upon the organization, is between 75-100 pages long. It is our job to officiate our games based solely on the rules of the game, and sometimes we have to interject ourselves into the game by enforcing a rule. I suspect that Clay does not possess a copy of the rule book, nor has he ever read this rule book. Umpiring is so much more than safe, out, balls, and strikes, but sports parents like Clay do not know or actually care about rules, or, for that matter, care about whether the correct call was made on the field, as long as the call was not made against their team or their kid.
Clay’s antics at his kid’s meaningless game are not particularly noteworthy(other than his “celeb” status) nor are they rare. Hundreds of sports Dads and Moms lose the privilege of watching their kids play every weekend because they simply cannot control their emotions at a sporting event that nobody cares about and the kids quickly forget about. Competition, winning, and losing are all vital skills for our kids to learn regardless of what some elements of society tell us. What is not okay and what needs to change immediately is the notion that it is okay to scream obscenities and menace perfect strangers who have sacrificed a weekend away from their families, who have sometimes driven hundreds of miles, and are working 4,5, 6 games or more without a break in order for your kid to play a game that they still love. Yes, we get paid. No, it is never an excuse to verbally and sometimes physically assault us over a perceived bad call.
I suspect that, beyond the public face of bluster and defiance, Clay is embarrassed by his actions last weekend. He certainly should be because I can almost guarantee that his kid, his parents, and his wife are all embarrassed by him and for him. I apologize for the length, but officiating youth sports is something that I am very proud of and passionate about.
• Brent P. in Indiana, who umpires up and down the amateur ranks from college to travel ball, writes:
I will agree with a lot of what Clay has to say. Remember in an email at the start of the season where I explained how you know if you have an umpire that is good. He has his shoes polished, and shined. Clothes neatly cleaned and pressed. Face shaven or neatly groomed. I would bet this guy failed on all fronts. In all the years I have umpired, only one time did I have a partner leave mid game to go to the bathroom. It was a Varsity game. Sometimes nature calls. However, sorry, not sorry if I can hear you dropping “f bombs” as a result of a play or call, in the midst of 11 year old’s, and I think the 11 year old’s can hear the swearing, then you are gone. And you don’t get to watch from outfield foul line. You are going to your car. Clay 0 Umpire 1
That being said. The way Clay describes the play, the umpire was wrong. The batter is protected from interfering while in the batter’s box. This does not mean he can’t interfere while in the box (i.e. an intentional movement), and just because the batter is out of the box does not make it automatic. There has to be interference. Clay 1 Umpire 1
On making it personal with Clay. Clay 2 Umpire 1
On the topic of jewelry. It is National Federation of High School Rules (NFHS) that Jewelry is not permitted unless it is a religious symbol, which is then required to be taped down, or a medical awareness item. During the high school season we enforce this rule all the time. However, when summer rolls around, most of us let the kids be kids. And many of the kids are only wearing the jewelry because they see the pro and college players wearing it. Let them emulate their baseball hero. Point can go either way, especially if you interject the safety issue. Clay 3 Umpire 2
On the topic of bat throwing, I have nothing to help here. If Clay’s version is as it was, the umpire was wrong. Clay 4 Umpire 2
Umpires or sports officials in general are like police officers. We wouldn’t be there if you didn’t try to cheat. And let me tell you baseball players like to cheat. I know because I was one. We have a set of rules that have to be applied. Like some police officers who are doing it to keep peace for the greater good, some of us are doing it because we love the game. And like some police officers, there are officials that enjoy the power and authority. Overall Clay wins 4 to 2
Are you an umpire who would like to have a say here? Let it fly. Let the emotions pour out. This is your big chance.