The Chicago Tribune employs a guy named Steve Rosenbloom as a sports columnist. He is paid to create all manner of Rosen-themed content. The Rosen-blog, the Rosen-vlog, the Rosen-rant, on and on ad infinitum. This week his rant subject was a half-baked conspiracy theory, suggesting the on-air anti-umpire diatribes of Ken “The Hawk” Harrelson breed contempt for the Pale Hose and, in the long run, cost the team ballgames.
There are few things in the world more satisfying than the thought of Hawk Harrelson suffering but this suggestion is nothing short of insane. Even more insane: implying team ownership might reprimand Harrelson in an effort to curb his umpire criticism. What kind of a world are we living in, I mean really?
The title of the piece — Do Hawk’s umpire rants hurt Sox? — is easily answered in one word: no. In no way does anything Hawk freaking Harrelson affect how the Sox perform on the field. No matter how inflammatory the comments the insane carnival barker in the WGN booth makes, what he says doesn’t change the way an ump calls the game. It doens’t. It can’t.
Absolutely everything is wrong with the belief that a team’s chosen play-by-play voice might influence umpires. Namely, he is just a broadcaster. An entertainer. While employed by the team, nobody actually believes he speaks for the actual team that actually plays on the actual field, do they? To suggest as much is…not a productive use of anyone’s time.
There is a bigger problem at play here, unfortunately. That Rosenbloom would take time from his busy schedule or that anyone with eyes and ears would do anything but dismiss the notion out of hand hints at an uglier truth: nobody puts it past the umpires.
The umps make a convenient scapegoat and all, and there is nothing fans like more than feeling victimized by the boys in blue but…seriously? Seriously. Hawk Harrelson might be America’s least favorite broadcaster, a grandstanding homer par excellence, but not even thin-skinned umpires are so agenda driven as to actively try to screw the ChiSox to spite the Hawk. Baseball simply doesn’t work that way. The world doesn’t work that way.
Yet here we are and there sits the poor Rosen-strawman – reduced to considering the possibility that the braying attention whore in a broadcast booth might somehow change the outcome of a baseball game. He doesn’t. He won’t. The umpires as a whole are surely aware of his stellar record of asinine commentary but don’t fool yourself into thinking, even for a second, that it gets in the way of their game calling. They’re too busy trying to screw YOUR favorite team to worry about the Hawk. It’s just what they do.