Rookie Umpires

Part One:

Adrian Beltre was called out on strikes in the second inning last night on a pitch he thought was low. He told umpire Dan Bellino his opinion and returned to the dugout.

“I didn’t curse or anything,’’ Beltre said. “I said I thought it was low. He said it was a good pitch and I walked away.’’

For purposes of this blog, Beltre = kid. Bellino = rookie teacher. Small potatoes exchange.

Part Two:

Once the inning was over, Beltre trotted out to third base and playfully boasted to Seattle pitcher Felix Hernandez that he would get him the next time.

Beltre and Hernandez were teammates in Seattle for five seasons and became good friends.

“We had a little bet,’’ Beltre said. “He told me he was going to strike me out three times and I told him I was going to take him deep. He struck me out and I went to my position and he was talking smack to me.

“I was facing him and, in Spanish, I told him that in my next at-bat I was going to take him deep over the Monster.’’

So now, two kids are talking. In Spanish. Rookie teacher listens. Is he being mocked? He's a rookie, he can't let stuff like this go unchecked.

Part Three:

Bellino, standing 90 feet away, thought Beltre was talking to him. Within a few seconds, Beltre was ejected.

Oops. Teacher made a mistake. Nailed a kid who didn't actually do anything wrong. Except this kid happens to be the Red Sox best player.

Part Four:

In a game they lost, 4-2, the Red Sox played the seven innings without their leading run producer and manager over what apparently was a misunderstanding.

“A young umpire got in the midst of something he didn’t know,’’ Francona said. “That shouldn’t have happened. It’s a shame. Beltre was just having fun with Felix. He wasn’t even talking to [Bellino].

Yep. Rookies make mistakes. So do veterans.

But with a rookie, the mistake can sometimes mess with his head.

Of course if Bellino makes a bunch more of these mistakes and is over-aggressive, he'll never stick in the big leagues (he's currently a sub from the minor leagues). But that seems unlikely.

A more likely and insidious worry is he'll worry too much about this mistake and now let players get away with too much real complaining. Other players, umpires, and managers will lose respect for him.

When rookie teachers make mistakes, they need to apologize and move on, not diminishing whatsoever their commitment to an orderly classroom.

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