Trusted local news leader for Kingman, Arizona & Mohave County
Wed, July 17

Calls by umpires often under question

During a recent Little League contest, a kid hit a grounder to short with runners on second and third.

From where I sat, it looked like it was fielded cleanly by the shortstop but the throw home was too late to stop the run from scoring.

I was quite surprised when the umpire called interference on the runner going from second to third saying the ball hit him, calling him out and ruling the ball dead.

Never a game goes by where an umpire's call is not questioned by someone be they on the field, in the dugout or on the bleachers.

And questioning an official is a key part of the sports world be it football, hockey, baseball or any competitive arena.

Dumb calls are part of the entertainment as are the exaggerated, animated motions performed by the official.

In physics we are taught that what you see when an event occurs is relative to where you might happen to be standing.

An example given in at least one physic's textbooks is that of a traffic cop who happens upon the scene of an accident and interviews five witnesses, each with a different story about what had occurred.

Despite the extreme dissimilarity in their account and the fact that the five couldn't agree on who was at fault, the book took note that all five were correct in their assessment and assumptions of what happened and that none of the five were lying.

How could that be?

The physics' book explains that it is all relative to where the witnesses were standing when the accident happened.

People see different things from their differing vantage points and though from where you may be standing the umpire made a bad call, from where he is standing, he made the right call.

A third party located in a third setting may see something altogether different.

Despite the fact that disparity in views can be quite subtle, such as when you have a batter in the box and an umpire behind the plate standing within a foot of each other, often times they both see a pitch in a different way.

In the blink of an eye a batter needs to determine if a pitch is worth swinging at and should he not swing, an umpire has to determine whether or not he should have.

The arguments over this particular scenario will continue as long as gentlemen play the game.

They may both be right dependent upon their angle of view.

So when the umpire called the runner out and ruled the play dead in the opening scenario, and the fans howled in protest to the point where they had to be subdued and threatened by the Little League president, in the world of science the possibility existed that both the fans and the umpires were correct in their evaluation of the play.

This is a beginning exercise into the study and understanding of rocket science.

In summation, while most of us suffer a limited understanding of theoretical physics and as a response believe travel to distant galaxies impossible, the truth is that it is far easier for a physicist to design a ship that will take you to the stars than it is to change the decision of an umpire.

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