Yesterday I talked about the term rabbit ears and how umpires listen to things when they probably shouldn’t. When I was in college there was a game where this concept had never been more evident.
We were playing against a school with a 5-29 record and should have won the game decisively. When teams play down to the level of a lesser opponent, any team can beat any other team on a given day. Unfortunately, that is what happened to us in this game.
There were some questionable calls throughout the course of the game, many going against our team. We were playing at home so it was even worse not getting a home field advantage. Words were being exchanged between coaches and umpires back and forth; the umpires apparently were getting a little wary of the coaching staff late in the game.
Our pitching coach had had enough of the umpires listening to the chirping in the dugouts rather than watching the game, so he proceeded to use the term rabbit for the umpires. “Come on rabbit! Watch the game rabbit!” This went on for a few innings before it got out of hand.
The umpire just happened to be watching our dugout when the pitching coach had two fungo bats that he propped on top of his head to imitate rabbit ears. He was walking back and forth through the dugout yelling that the umpire had rabbit ears, and the umpire through him out of the game. The coach had never stepped on the field and was ejected for a performance worthy of an Oscar nomination.
The game continued on, but not for long. In the bottom of the 9th inning, we were down by a few runs. The leadoff hitter was ruled out after a play at first base where the first baseman had dropped the ball on a transfer. Our third base coach, the head coach, got into a heated discussion with the home plate umpire, resulting in him being thrown out of the game.
Rather than walk off the field, our coach decided he was going to stay on the field and simply not listen to the umpire. He “threw the umpire out” and stood in the third base box ready for the next pitch. Confused, the home plate umpire just stood there. It’s not every day you see a coach get thrown out of a game and then stay on the field as if nothing had happened.
A minute or so later, the umpire tossed the balls in his pockets on the field, declared the game over, and gave us a forfeit for our coach not leaving the field. We lost the game with two outs left in the last inning, which could have been a big difference against the team we were playing. Granted, the rabbit ears were not as big a deal with the third base coach because he refused to leave the field after being ejected, but it all started with the pitching coach in the dugout.
Umpires may be right or wrong, but they always have the final say. There is nothing you can do about one that has rabbit ears except play the game as if he isn’t there. If you let the umpire get inside your head and affect the way you play, you have now created a game against the other team as well as the umpire. That is the last thing you want to do and can be avoided by not having rabbit ears yourself. When egos get involved and provoked in a game, nothing good will come of it.