Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Game Log 1/31: No freakin' way!

I had a freshman game today that was very calm--had very little contact and very few calls (we were done in an hour). It was a two-point comeback victory for the home team. Down by 7 with a few minutes left, the home team put together a run to win by one. Fun ending. This game was mostly notable because it was the first game played in a brand new gym. I got to baptize the place.

Tonight's varsity game. Man. I had a friend come by to videotape the game. Alas--the battery lasted about a minute, so I won't be able to use it to help me out at all. The game was stinky from the get go, with Gold up 11-3 after a quarter and 21-8 at half. I was worried about my friend getting bored, so I signaled her to head home.

Green came back to win. I still can't believe it.

My game was not great tonight. I didn't quite feel 100% comfortable at any point. It started weird in the first half, when I only called 2 of the 13 fouls called. I didn't feel like I was missing anything or even taking an inordinate amount of passes. Nothing was happening! I talked about this at halftime, and one of my partners suggested that the other was calling too much. I also had a couple of bad brain freezes (I called a free throw violation from trail--inexcusable brain freeze, even though I think my partner missed it). I need to get it together for tomorrow. I mean, nothing tragic happened today...we managed a close game just fine, and heard no complaints from anyone. But I know I wasn't at my best.

It's weird. When there's a game that seems like it's a snoozer, it's not that I stop paying attention--things can go south in a big hurry. But when a game that I don't expect to become close suddenly gets competitive late, it's interesting. I have to take it up a notch that I didn't expect. After squandering their massive lead, Gold had the last shot. An ugly, ugly "jump stop" resulted in a travel call by my partner with a second left. Ballsy call, but correct. (And why the hell was I looking at it anyway?)

I'm thinking back over my varsity career (three years on the varsity list, and several games before I was on the list) and I can't think of another varsity game I did that came down to the last possession. Well, there was this one (still the best game I've had this year), but a needing a buzzer three to tie isn't the same as a two-point ballgame somehow.

THINGS I DID WELL: Managed game well. No complaints. Didn't go crazy with the whistle.
THINGS TO WORK ON: Concentration. Had too many weird mental lapses.

Next up: A blowout varsity game...2nd place (one loss) against last place (no wins).

Friday, January 27, 2006

Game Log 1/27/2006: Where's the atmosphere?

I took on an extra game today--filled in for an injured official at a JV game. It was terrible...54-12. I'm glad I filled in, though. It wasn't a terribly ugly game, but it could have turned that way with one official. The losing team had one player who was banging a bit more than was called for. Fortunately, she fouled out--and that was good for the game.

I then jumped in the car to get to the regularly-scheduled Varsity game.

I was looking forward to tonight's Varsity game, as it promised to be fairly competitve. Not so much. Blue took it right to White, led by 15 at the half, and wound up winning by 13. White couldn't get anything done on offense. I was impressed with Blue.

It was smooth and quiet..."like stealing money," my partner said. White wanted over-the-back calls, but Blue was simply taller and reaching over them. Clean. They asked about it at halftime (politely), and partner said that exactly.

White's assistant coach continued to whine throughout the game. It was ignorable. Blue punched the wall with :27 left. I let that go--partner agreed with me. Maybe I should have T'd her up, though. I don't think so.

The disappointing part of tonight's game was that there were only family present (or so it seemed). Very, very quiet. Given how much I was looking forward to a competitive game with something at stake, it was a little bit of a let-down.

THINGS I DID WELL: Smooth, smooth game. Called what had to be called.
THINGS TO WORK ON: Not muc hwrong tonight.

NEXT UP: Tuesday--a freshman game followed by a varsity game...again, it should be competitive, but I thought tonight would be too.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

The Quadratic Formula

28 seconds into the game, Red misses a shot--no iron, just glass. The ball rattles out of bounds, and it goes to Red. The shot clock is mistakenly reset. So, with 7:32 left in the first quarter, we already have a significant delay. My partner goes to the table and slowly--very, very slowly--we count off the shot clock to put 2 on it.

Why not chat with the players? I mean, we're just sitting here waiting for an inbound. It'll set a fun atmosphere. Calm things down, create a positive atmosphere.

I chat with the Red in-bounder and her defender for White.

So, do you have finals this week?

RED: Yeah.

How are they going?

RED: They're okay. I'm going to fail my math test tomorrow.

Oh! That's bad.

RED: I can't ever remember the quadratic formula.

WHITE: The quadratic formula? I know that.

Well, this is a chance to show some sportsmanship. White 44, can you help Red 21 with the quadratic formula?

WHITE: Negative B, plus-or-minus the square root of B squared minus 4AC, all over 2A.

RED: 4AC! That's the part I always forget!

Thanks, 44. It was nice of you to help her out.

(At this point, the shot clock is finally fixed and we in-bound the ball--just a little more confident that Red 21 will do well on her math final.)

Game Log 1/25/2006: Hum-drum

Tonight's game wasn't a blowout, wasn't a close one, wasn't physical but wasn't timid, wasn't tough but wasn't easy. There was really no distinguishing characteristics to the game.

I never quite felt 100%. I didn't have any god-awful kicks, but a lot of the calls I made, especially in the first half, were ones that maybe I could have passed on, maybe not...I just never really felt right mentally.

We made through it all right, though. My 3-man rotations were fine. My first two rotations were a little quick, as it turned out...as soon as I got across the paint, a kid was launching a three. Fortunately, my partners picked up both rotations, but I still was certain to adjust and wait a hair longer for subsequent rotations. I still need a LOT of practice on switches--so many fouls have me just running aimlessly, hoping to wind up in the right place.

I did have to straighten a coach out on a rule. After a double foul, we gave the ball to White. Red's coach wanted the ball because the possession arrow pointed her way. I explained the new rule. "No jump ball, coach. On a double foul, we go to point of interruption. White had the rebound, so White gets the ball." Her response? Silence. Man, I love hearing that from a coach after an explanation.

THINGS I DID WELL: Coach management at explanation of weird call. Rotations.
THINGS TO WORK ON: More patient whistle (could have passed on a couple), switching in 3-man.

NEXT UP: A fairly competitive varsity game Friday night.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Game Log 1/21/2006: Damn fun

I had a 6th grade game and a 7th grade game today.

The first game was a blowout. Blue beat White handily. They played extremely well for 6th graders...passed the ball beautifully, ran the court marvelously, and played stingy defense. The game was completely clean with the exception of a late pick. The player jumped in, but I thought she was there on time. The coach (politely) told me after the game she thought the player had her forearms up and out. I didn't see it that way. The kid who ran into the pick took a knock on the head, but she's all right.

The second game was very tight and fun to ref. Two evenly-matched teams. White beat Blue. I was working with a high school kid. He gave me a vibe that he wasn't that interested in the game--for instance, with 20 seconds left in a 1-point game, during a time out, he was shooting hoops. Not okay! I went down and told him I needed his full attention on the game--went over situations we might see.

No really big calls late: just two quick jump balls that I got to sell big-time.

Again, I continue to notice something about my personality: when I'm the stronger partner, I really have better games and feel more confident. It's not that I have bad games when I'm working with a great ref...but I don't feel the same level of strength out there for whatever reason.

It's time for me to get arrogant all the time--but in a nice way.

THINGS I DID WELL: Managed pressure very, very well.
THINGS TO WORK ON: I'm going to review the exact language of the screening rules. I need to have those dead on.
NEXT UP: A fairly tight Varsity matchup on Wednesday night...fourth place against fifth place. I'd bet a few bucks that I'll be observed, so I want to be ready. I will also have my wife videotape me. Today was a great pair of games to get momentum going for that bigger one.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Game Log 1/20/06: A pleasant surprise

JV and varsity tonight. 3rd place in the conference against last place. I was ready for a yucky one.

The JV game was a pleasure tonight. I was working with a first-year official. He was excited and eager to learn. He made some errors, but the coaches were totally cool all night long (not a peep out of either guy...in part because it was a blowout game). I felt good about the game. It was a ten-point game at half (17-7), but Blue blew it open in the third, which meant we had to go to BloggingRef's Blowout Philosophy (which worked out fine). I had to drop back a little bit to get a bigger look at the floor (wanted to help my partner in case of an egregious miss...but it was unnecessary). A fine JV game.

The varsity game. I was ready for a 40 point win...maybe even a 50-point win. It was 11-0 at one point, and I was bucking up for a blowout night. 20-point game at half. I'm not expecting ugliness, necessarily...this team is used to getting blown out...but I still commit to look out for problems that might grow.

Blue only outscores White by 3 in the second half. They didn't back off and start milking the clock or anything...their only change was taking off the press. White starts driving the land and getting points. Blue actually looks a little rattled. The outcome was never in doubt, but White was thrilled with their performance (they made very few mistakes), and Blue played poorly and was getting an earful from their coach.

I got a little bit of an earful from that coach because I called the 4th foul on one of their players, #25, in the third quarter. It was especially unfortunate since I knew I had already called the first three (two of them were good ones...one I might have been able to take a pass on). White's speedy point guard is running side by side with Blue 25, and she's a little quicker. Now she has a quarter step on her. Now she has a half step on her. Blue 25 reaches across and is pulling her back. I don't want to call it. I really don't want to be responsible for all four fouls on #25! But she's being beat down the floor, and is pulling back the player who's beating her. It's small, but I can't let it go. Too much of an advantage gained. Coach hated the call. Partner thought I could have taken a pass on the call. I stand by the call. She can't pull a player back just because she's beating her. I'll whistle that every time.

A different Blue player got me to tell her to cool it. I had a five-second violation on White, and as my count reached 4 and a half, she shouted "FIVE!!!" long enough to bounce off all of the rafters a few times. I told her "I've got the count, 33. Keep your cool." She apologized. It's all good.

I'll never forget the raucous cheering and applause from the White team and coaches after the game. They had just lost the game by 23, and they were elated because they really played well.

High school hoops can be awesome.

THINGS I DID WELL: I feel like I perform well when I'm the stronger partner. This is totally opposite the way I used to be.

THINGS TO WORK ON: Later in the second game, I caught myself ball-watching. Can't do that.

NEXT UP: Two littler-kid rec games (I think 6th and 7th grade) tomorrow.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

A funny moment tonight

To set a positive tone at the end of the captains' meeting, I will frequently ask: "Is there anything you'd rather be doing tonight then this?" They smile and say no. I then say: "Me either. Let's have fun!"

Tonight, for the first time, I had a player say something else.

Me: "Is there anything you'd rather be doing tonight than this?"

Blue Captain: "Studying for finals?"

Ah, the student-athlete. Cool answer, that.

By the way...

if you haven't been scrolling down lately, you're missing a hot discussion on Ref Accountability in the comments of the Joey Porter post.

Game Log 1/18/2006: I remember the two calls.

I'm noticing as I write that I tend to focus only on the calls I don't care for. A reader might think that either (1) I suck or (2) I think I suck. I don't think either of those are true. But tonight will be no different.

JV and varsity games. Big schools. The JV game was quite uneventful, save a motormouth coach for Blue we had to warn (the warning worked). I wasn't feeling physically 100% tonight...am I coming down with something? My partner was a good varsity guy I liked. Game went fine.

The varsity game looked on paper to be a blowout, but Blue hung around for the first half, leading only by three. White is a team that tends to play up and down to their opposition, I've noticed (I've seen them a few times this season), and I was worried they'd get frustrated in the second half if Blue hung around. I thought what would be best for the quality of play would be for Blue to blow them away in the third quarter. Fortunately, they came out and hit a two, a three, and a two in their first three possessions. Ten-point game, and it never got too close thereafter.

I made one call I'd like back and had one miss that I need help with. The call I'd like back was on a rebound. White was boxing out Blue, but was reaching around Blue behind her, restricting Blue's movement. I don't want White to get away with that. I waited for something to happen. The ball bounced on the rim about five times and fell through. I went ahead and blue the whistle, figuring that I needed to nip this in the bud. I probably should have waited for a play where it had more impact...it looked like a fairly weak call even if I'm philosophically behind it.

The miss? Well, as lead in three-man, I'm pretty good about staying up close to the baseline as you're supposed to. This is an adjustment since I've been indoctrinated to stay deep in 2-man so I can get a wide, wide look.

The problem is that, from only 3-4 feet away, I can't look at the players' arms and legs at the same time. A couple of weeks ago, this meant travels that I didn't detect. Today, the White coach claimed her player got undercut. It's possible he was full of it, of course, but the point is that I was focused up high (looking for contact on the arm). The player didn't go to the floor or anything, but if she was hit low, I never had a chance of seeing it.

I'll need to talk to three-man experts about what to do. I don't like being so close to the players.

THINGS I DID WELL: Coach management was pretty good, sold some good out-of-bounds calls, gradually getting better at 3-man switches

THINGS TO WORK ON: Probably could have rotated more often, take a pass on non-impactive minimal contact rebound call

NEXT UP: Friday night. Big schools. It's gonna be a blowout challenge...could be a 50- or even 60-point win.

Joey Porter fined six figures...

but, alas, all of the figures were zeroes.

I guess that my connections to the NFL are not as strong as they should be.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Woody Paige

has just said that the refs, not the Broncos, beat the Patriots. No, I wasn't a fan of the DPI call, but still...Huh?

It gets better. Paige went on:

"Out of the four games this weekend, not one of the referees had done a Super Bowl. Where was Ed Hochuli? Where was Johnny Grier? Where was Bernie Kukar?"

Um...Woody? Johnny Grier is (a) retired and (b) never officiated a Super Bowl as a referee. PLEASE know what you're talking about before moving your lips.

(Hochuli officiated last week, which means he might yet do the Super Bowl. I'd bet a reasonable sum of money that we see Kukar in either Denver or Seattle next week.)


NFL has said Pete Morelli was in error.

We got the definition of "catch" I've been looking for. Quoth Mike Pereira:

"The definition of a catch -- or in this case an interception -- states that in the process of making a catch a player must maintain possession of the ball after he contacts the ground," Pereira said.

"The rule regarding the performing of an act common to the game applies when there is contact with a defensive player and the ball comes loose, which did not happen here."

Joey Porter crosses the line

I need more information on the rules' definition of "catch" before I know whether Pete Morelli got the replay review wrong in yesterday's Steelers/Colts game. My instinct is that Troy Polamalu had control, but Morelli's explanation indicates to me that he might need to hold onto the ball until he's off the ground. The NFL's explanation today doesn't help, and I can't find any relevant definitions in the NFL rulebook.

So if people want to say Morelli blew the review call, I'm fine with that. Phil Simms saying pointedly: "Well, that's [Morelli's] opinion." Reasonable, although I'd rather know the rule.

But if you're with Joey Porter, I'm not fine with that. Here's what Porter said after the game:

When they did that, they really want Peyton Manning and these guys to win the Super Bowl. They are just going to straight take it for them. I felt that they were like 'We don't even care if you know we're cheating. We're cheating for them.'

A conspiracy theorist! What a dodo. If this were true, the refs did a terrible job throwing the game. It would have been very easy to flag Bryant McFadden for pass interference on that second-down pass. It would have been very easy to throw a flag on the final field goal. More to the point, it would have been very, very easy for the umpire to whistle Polamalu's play as incomplete the first damn time!

I don't ever believe in conspiracy theories: not against JFK, not against OJ, not anybody. There are always too many people to keep quiet. Someone will always sing. They're always ludicrous.

Listen up, idiots: If any sport's referees were caught in any league-related conspiracy, the league would SHUT DOWN. The integrity of results separate sports from pro wrestling. While the NFL may have been lusting for a Peyton Manning win (off the record), they have too much to lose to do anyting as wild as Porter is accusing them of.

Porter needs to be fined six figures.

Joey Porter: A great argument that athletes should be seen and not heard.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Game Log 1/13/2006: Easy Money

JV Game--cancelled. We arrived just as the visiting team was calling to say they wouldn't be there. We get paid. I get a chance to grab half a sandwich.

Varsity game--no problem. Major mismatch. We had two tiny private schools known for their academics. Red, for reasons I don't know, was starting 4 freshmen, and none of them were terribly skilled. Their fifth player was kind of talented, and I could tell she was barely masking her frustration at her teammates' lack of skill. I kept an eye on her in case she boiled over. She didn't.

We called what we had to call. Things were fine save one bout of mental laziness late...I didn't get up the floor enough on a sudden backcourt turnover. Other than that, this isn't one I'll remember for any reason.

THINGS I DID WELL: Managed blowout, closed on jump balls, consistent with partner
THINGS TO WORK ON: Staying mentally aware late.

NEXT UP: JV and Varsity games, largish school, competitive-ish matchup. Wednesday.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Game Log 1/11/2006: A nice compliment

Had a JV game tonight, which was a bit unusual...like I said, two days in a row without a varsity game is a first this year. The game itself was quite uneventful. The Blue coach kept wanting fouls on the shot, but I was not going to call them. White was standing still--not even jumping--and keeping their arms straight up in the air. Gimme a break. I will never call that. If there's contact, it's either a nothing or on the offense. In fact, I probably passed on a player control foul or two (glancing contact caused by the offense).

I probably was too assertive for coach management at one point. The second time he shouted he wanted a call like that, I walked up to him from the baseline to say "She was standing with her arms straight up coach." I should have ignored him instead. He didn't say anything that had a question mark on it--therefore I can ignore it. In three man, it might have been different--he may have had occasion to ask something--but in two man, I can't go walking to him.

My partner had a technical on a player for White while she sat on the bench. A ballplayer fouled out early in the third quarter. While she was on the bench, partner had a call, and she repeatedly chirped at him. T on the bench. He explained it to the coach and seat-belted him.

After the game, the White coach came by the locker room to tell us we were the best crew he'd had this season. He was glad partner T'd up the player. He let us know that, just yesterday, she'd gotten in trouble for mouthing off to a teacher at school, and he was really glad we T'd her up. I told him we're glad that she could get that feedback from someone other than a teacher! Anyway, they're going to sit her out of Friday's game.

Although the compliments were a little more directed at my partner than at me, it was still great to have them from a losing coach--and for something that might actually teach a kid a thing or two.

THINGS I DID WELL: Smooth game overall. Refereed stationary defender properly--didn't let coach's garbage influence me. Felt confident.
THINGS TO WORK ON: Coach management...too aggressive. Square up as lead when near key. Get hair gel.
NEXT UP: Two small schools near the bottom of their conference. JV and Varsity. Friday.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Game Log 1/10/06: Hangin' with a vet

Today was a bit unusual. I had a pair of junior high games...and that was it. Normally I get a varsity game every night I'm available, and usually more. Tonight, just junior high. I'd take it personally, except my partner was the actual #1 official in our association. A veteran, multiple state appearances, great person.

I've been around long enough that I don't feel the need to press her for information or to totally learn everything I can from her. Mostly, tonight was about hanging out with her and having fun. We did.

The games were a pair of blowouts (a "varsity" junior high game followed by a 7th grade game). The gym was tiny, with maybe two feet of space between the end line and a very hard brick wall. No major calls went badly--there was sparse need for any calls at all in the second game. The players weren't terribly skilled...we let a few travels go...and there wasn't much contact.

Fun time. Easy money.

THINGS I DID WELL: Eyes off ball, didn't flatten myself against a brick wall
THINGS TO WORK ON: I'm still reaching across the lane to call drives as lead. With 3-man the rule these days, I need to eradicate that from my game--even in 2-man games.
NEXT UP: JV game tomorrow. Again, no varsity. I guess we have more officials available these days.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Mike Carey Update

Well, Sean Salisbury fixed it up somewhat during the evening's SportsCenter, saying the following:

"The officiating crew--Mike Carey--they did not miss one call. We get on officials all the time...I thought they were spectacular today. And if anyone does a better job than that, then they ought to be officiating in the Super Bowl regardless of whose turn it is."

Although his comments show a misunderstanding of how the Super Bowl officials are selected, it's still nice to hear someone say this. I do hope that someone passes this on to Patrick/Theismann/Maguire so that they will realize how breathtakingly inept their game was today.

Why I hate ESPN's NFL crew

Way back in my first post, I promised I would hold announcers accountable if they got on officials' cases without any cause or knowledge. I even mentioned Joe Theismann by name, because he's probably the worst offender there is.

Today the worst offender made his worst offense.

When Mike Carey called the personal foul on the Redskins' Sean Taylor and they showed the replay, I'll admit it looked at first like he got the wrong guy. I said "Oh, that's a shame." But then I had something Joe Theismann will never have.

I had a thought.

Didn't Mike Carey say something after calling the foul--something that might explain the foul?

I rewound the TiVo.

Here's what I heard:

"After the ball was dead: Unsportsmanlike conduct, defense number 21. 15 yards and an automatic first down. Spitting in the face of an opponent. Number 21 is ejected."

I don't see how this could be any more clear.

But ESPN's NFL people, God love 'em, found a way to make themselves look like complete idiots--even worse than they do every week.

Because Mike Patrick started talking as Mike Carey was saying the word "spitting," they didn't hear a word of it.

So, for six minutes, we got massive ref-bashing--when the crew didn't even listen to the explanation!

And, because Mike Patrick opened his big trap too early, nobody in the television audience got to hear the explanation, unless they rewound their TiVos and concentrated through Carey's voice!

This wasn't a misunderstanding of a rule or a criticism of a judgement call, both of which I can live with more than this. This was a 6-minute harangue of Carey when the crew had the information they needed at their disposal, if they'd only bothered listening. They just were more interested in hearing themselves talk then in getting it right for once.

Nobody in the truck thought to listen to Carey.

Nobody on the crew thought to rewind the tape and see what he said.

They just assumed they knew better.

Here are some highlights from Larry, Curly, and Moe in the booth:

Maguire: "Watch this. Now watch this." (We could put this in anytime for Maguire, of course.)

Theismann: "Whoa! How do you do this? This is something that should be reviewed upstairs." (You idiot. A, it's not reviewable. B, if it were, in the third quarter, it wouldn't be upstairs doing it.) "You cannot give a 15-yard penalty do a player who did nothing." (No, you can't, Joe, and he didn't. Just like Mike Carey said about 30 seconds ago.)

Patrick: "That's terrible."

Theismann: "I'm very curious to see what the officials in the booth are going to do. It's an extremely bad call and an unbelieveable mistake."

Patrick: "It's not reviewable." (Thanks, Mike, for the first actual fact of this stretch. Of course, your decision to talk over Carey precipitated all of this, so you reap what you sow.)

Theismann: "In a game of this magnitude, the officials should not be allowed to make this kind of a mistake." (Nor should the broadcasters, you nitwit.)

Patrick: "Oh, that's awful."

Theismann: "And you know if it was Sean Taylor who hit Michael Pittman and that happened, I'd say the same thing." (Joe! It's not your bias that's ever bothered me! It's your complete lack of knowledge of the rules of football. But today, it's even worse than that--because the referee told you what happened, but you didn't listen. And on top of that, nobody on your crew, in the truck, or even in Bristol bothered to clue any of you in.) "That is an absolute terrible, terrible call. That means that nobody saw anything! They just threw a flag!" (HOLY LORD GOD! Theismann has just accused an officiating crew of complete incompetence--for making a call when they didn't see anything. And yet, it is THEISMANN who is making this call without knowing anything! Absolutely amazing!)

Patrick: "This is a shocking call." (Yup, Mike, it is. Your call of this game is shocking.)

Maguire: "Now watch what [Taylor] does here." (Yet another scintillating bit of analysis by Maguire.) "He's jawing!"

Theismann: "All he's doing is jawing. That's all. He's talking. Then Carey starts to step in. Michael Pittman hits Sean Taylor, and they charge the penalty to Sean Taylor."

Patrick: "I have all the respect in the world for this officiating crew, but they missed that one." (Mike! If you had respect for them, why didn't you listen to Carey? He told you what happened.) "Hopefully, that call will not have anything to do with the outcome of this game."

Theismann: "Now unfortunately, the other part of that is that the coaches are mad at Sean Taylor. They get mad at him for creating and giving the Bucs this opportunity, and he doesn't deserve it."

Patrick: "And he didn't do it."

Maguire: "Well, look at the players on the sideline. They're not even talking to him. Maybe the referee heard him say something, but the swing was by Pittman."

--At this point, something interesting happens. Paul Maguire starts to become the closest thing in the room to the voice of reason. A thought is forming in his head at glacial speed...but since he's actually having a thought, he's the MENSA member of the crew. That's rather like having Hugh Hefner the president of your chastity club, but I digress. He's noticing that the Washington players and coaches aren't mad. Nobody in the joint is yelling at the officials except the stooges in the booth. Not even Taylor is hot! So he's starting to think that maybe there's an explanation to this.

Then, ESPN goes to a commercial.

Now surely, one would think...SURELY the fine folks at ESPN would take this opportunity to clue in its crew.


After the break, Sean Taylor is being escorted to the locker room. Why? Because he has been ejected. How do I know this? I heard Mike Carey say it (and, more importantly, say why). We pick up with our stooge crew:

Maguire: "Monte Kiffin was out in the middle of the field. I don't know, was he thrown out of the game? They didn't say anything." (See Mike Carey's words above, Paul. He did. It's just the three of you are such blowhards that you didn't listen, and your crew didn't care to inform you of what was said.)

Patrick: "Sean Taylor is leaving the field, going to the locker room. He has certainly had his problems, but if he's being punished for this, they're wrong."

Yup. Nobody got to them even during the break!

Patrick: "He was ejected from the ballgame, we are told." (Just now? HE TOLD YOU WHEN HE MADE THE CALL!) "And now it's taking on ridiculous proportions." (Truer words were never spoken, Mike. You make yourself look stupider and stupider with each word.)

Maguire: "Joe, what happened was, the word we got, is that he spit in Pittman's face."

--Paul Maguire! The voice of reason! And too late! Some stats:

Time Mike Carey made his public announcement: 6:36:40 EST.
Time the ESPN crew figured out the spitting and the ejection: 6:42:00 EST.

In between they had time to say all of the above.

Maguire: "If you spit in my face, I don't care how big you are, I'm going to smack you."

Patrick: "If he did that, and the referee saw it, then he deserves the penalty and he deserves to be ejected."

Theismann: "Then the official is correct."

Now, I'll wait for the apology for the allegations of Carey's incompetence and the admissions that the last 6 minutes of this broadcast were completely wrong and a pathetic farce:


I nominate this for the worst example of sportscasting in history. Anyone wish to second?

Friday, January 06, 2006

Game Log 1/6/06: A deflowering

JV and Varsity games today. Winless at Undefeated. Looked to be a routine, unspecial night. But then my partner for both games--who I knew wasn't on the varsity list, but rather was filling in on a shorthanded Friday for the varsity game--announced to me that tonight was his first varsity game.

I remember my first varsity game. It was my second year--long ago. However, I was put with another second-year official who was doing her first varsity game. We were both nervous. We let too much go. We got hollered at at halftime by a coach and didn't T him. The second half was tolerable. But my first big-school game, later that year, I had a strong veteran partner on my side, and it was a wonderful experience. I look back on that fondly.

So I wanted my partner to have a good game. I congratulated him on his varsity debut. He said he was nervous--to be expected--and I said we had a good opportunity to work out any kinks in the JV game. We did. I never had a problem with him.

Two smooth games. Both were blowouts, but smooth blowouts. The JV game featured very poor play, and Green lost something like 50-16...but I could tell Green was thrilled with the result. I bet they had never had 16 points in a game before...at least based on the raucousness of the crowd's response to every hoop (including at least four wild banker 18-footers).

The second game was absolutely ideal for my partner's debut. White rushed out to a 15-0 lead, but then Green hung around for a good long time, actually trailing by only 12 at half. So the game was close, but not so close as to add any unnecessary pressure to the occasion. We didn't even have to shift to my Blowout Philosophy of Calling Games. White blew it open in the second half, eventually winning by 35-ish, but the second half was so very smooth that we didn't ever shift philosophy. The game was fine without us.

I probably opened the game tooting the whistle a little too often--four quick fouls before my partner had one--but the game really eased up later. I almost didn't call a foul in the third quarter--partner had three--before calling a shooting foul with a few seconds left. We barely made the bonus in the first half and didn't come close to the bonus in the second. The fourth quarter featured a lot of turnovers and up and down--I ran more in this game than I have in a long time. The only call I really am thinking twice about wasn't a kick but a shooting foul I had as lead where I reached across the lane. Probably shouldn't have done that. At the very least, I should have let my partner have the call, but I was too excited to count the bucket and didn't notice my partner also had it until it was too late. Not a huge issue, but something to think about.

On the whole, it was a wonderful night. I invited my partner out for a drink afterwards--he earned it. He couldn't make it--has to work early tomorrow--but I think he was glad I asked.

THINGS I DID WELL: Just about everything. Felt in charge. Game had flow once we established things early. Put partner at ease.

THINGS TO WORK ON: Don't reach across lead. Be aware of partner having his fist up.

NEXT UP: Two junior high games on Tuesday.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Game Log 1/4/06: U-G-L-Y

The game turned out about how I anticipated--a 22-point victory for white. But it should have been a lot more of a blowout--neither team played well at all. The score was locked--no points scored--for about the last 5 minutes of the second quarter.

In other words, tonight it felt like work. And I was up to the task.

We must have called 45 fouls--15 of them in the third quarter, probably another 15 in the fourth. Each team shot about eight million free throws and made about 27 of them. We wanted to let a few go, but we simply couldn't. For the most part, the fouls were just a result of poor play, but we had to make sure they didn't get chippy or grow into frustration fouls. The three of us met together during almost every dead ball. I said "I know this is going slowly, but we have to keep using our whistles. We can't let things get out of control." We were consistent with each other. The clock slowly--slooooowwwwwwwly--ticked down. Nobody got hurt. We got out.

I felt like the man in charge today, and I must have acted it. The coaches treated me that way. Some of it was that one of my partners was a 16-year-old kid...a fantastic referee who's working his way up our association with a bullet. He made a call that the Red coach didn't like in the first quarter. Talked with him a while--my partner had to show him his palm. And the coach came up to me and said "Would you go up to him at a dead ball and explain the new rule?" Bizarre situation.

Let's set aside the fact that I'm certain my partner got it right (he's that good).

The fact that the coach came to me means that, in this crew at least, I was viewed, justified or no, as the Guy In Charge.

That felt good.

Only one of my calls was overly challenged, a block call. The coach said "That was PERFECT." She was waiting there a long time, yes...but I felt like her legs were beyond her shoulders. The contact wasn't with the defender's torso--it was a trip on the leg. I told White's coach as much. He said "You had to reach deep for that explanation, huh?" I turned to him, actually smiled, and said: "Not this time, coach. That's actually what I saw." And it was (although I wish I had the video to be sure about it). In any event, it's a nice reminder to be sure to referee the defense.

Also, as lead, twice I called fouls on a drive when the coach was yelling that the player travelled. I'll have to ask if, in three-man situations, the T or C has the feet. As lead, I simply don't have the ability to focus both on the contact and on the feet.

THINGS I DID WELL: Game management, kept ugly game under control, coach management
THINGS TO WORK ON: Referee the defense, get switches (I still don't know where to go a lot of the time), get rotations (missed a few early).

NEXT UP: Friday night. JV and Varsity games at a nearby religious school...a fun place to work. The standings say it'll be another blowout, but it's still always fun to work there.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Did the better team win?

Tomorrow night, I'll have a game that the home team should win handily. Last year, it would have been a 40-point game. The home team stopped just a hair short of state, and the visiting team was at the bottom of the standings. This year, the home team has dropped off a little, and the visiting team is starting the long road back to respectability--but it still should be a 20-point game or so.

But what if it isn't? What if the visiting team pulls off the upset? Does that mean that I didn't do my job?

One of my recent partners seems to think so.

After a recent game, as we were going over the game, he said something along the lines of "It's all okay though, because the team that deserved to win, won."

I've also heard it said that if the officials do their jobs right, the better team will win every time.

And I just don't buy it.

While I think it's the officials' job to administer a form of justice, I don't think the winning team should factor into an officials' thoughts whatsoever. I'll call fouls, and I'll be aware of the score. I even want to know who's favored so I can get a sense as to the participants' mindsets, which have such a massive impact on what happens on the floor. But the way my partner put it, I need to be keeping track of who I believe "deserves" to win the game, and if they don't win, it's my failing.

Ridiculous. My partners and I are at the game only because we could give a crap who wins. We're interested only in safety and fairness, not in outcome. Sometimes there are upsets. Sometimes, the better team doesn't even win, and it's not always the officials' fault (coaching and dumb luck factor in).

And I've got enough on my mind without considering these kinds of questions.

I have a game to ref.

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