Let’s save the magic of management

It was a few days ago. Watching the first home game of the season of the Pittsburgh Pirates of the US Major League (MLB), I could feel the ‘movement’ of sports. At the time, Pittsburgh returned Andrew McCutchen (37), who left the team due to a trade in 2018, and stood at bat at PNC Park wearing a Pirates uniform after 5 years.

McCutchen is a significant player to Pittsburgh fans. In the 2005 rookie draft, he was nominated with the 11th overall pick in the first round, and he received a lot of attention from the start. After debuting in 2009, he placed 4th in the National League (NL) Rookie of the Year vote, and the following year, he took the place of the starting center fielder, changing the team’s atmosphere with talented play that combines offense, defense, and land. 

In addition, McCutchen led Pittsburgh to the postseason by being named an All-Star in his third year of debut and the 2013 National League (NL) Most Valuable Player (MVP) in his fifth year. Pittsburgh, centered on McCutchen, has experienced fall baseball for three consecutive years since 2013 and has established itself as a strong team in the NL Central Division.

McCutchen was the face of Pittsburgh, but was traded to the San Francisco Giants in January 2018 due to the club’s circumstances, which is a ‘small market’. After touring various teams, he returned to Pittsburgh with a one-year contract. Pittsburgh fans gave him a standing ovation when he entered the first at-bat in the home opener. Before stepping into the plate, McCutchen expressed his gratitude to the fans and seemed to be in control of his emotions. This scene was captured on live video. The interesting thing here was the pitch clock (a pitcher must pitch within 15 seconds if there is no runner, and within 20 seconds even if there is a runner). 

Starting this season, batters must get into the batter’s box and be ready to hit 8 seconds before the pitch clock expires. But a prolonged standing ovation and high emotions kept McCutchen from batting for a while. At this time, I was curious about the referee’s judgment. Referee Ryan Wills did not apply the pitch clock. Didn’t he fully realize how important and meaningful this moment was to McCutchen and his fans? MLB’s official website, MLB.com, also featured this scene on the main page, adding that the referee did not dare to apply the rule at this moment.

But recently, the exact opposite has happened. Cody Bellinger (28), wearing a Chicago Cubs uniform this season, visited LA Dodger Stadium. Bellinger, who won NL Rookie of the Year and MVP with the Dodgers, was a much-loved superstar, but his value has declined over the past two years due to serious slumps. Dodgers fans’ interest in Bellinger, who transferred to the Cubs in December of last year, was still hot. When “Cubs transfer student” Bellinger entered the plate in the second inning, fans saluted with a standing ovation. Bellinger also took off his hat to express his gratitude. 

However, there was a point where the emotion was destroyed. Right away, the referee declared an automatic strike to Bellinger, saying that he did not step into the plate quickly. Bellinger did not express any dissatisfaction, and after a 6-pitch game, he was out with a ground ball.메이저놀이터

I am not here to criticize the referee for applying the principles according to the rules. However, he does not have the heart to praise him for accurately following the rules. It may deviate from the principle and raise the issue of equity. However, just because McCutchen temporarily withheld the application of the rules, the MLB Secretariat, fans and players did not even bring up the word of dissatisfaction or discrimination.

In the near future, robot referees may be able to judge strikes and balls. Suddenly, we reflect on the role of referee. I wonder if the referee as an ‘operator’ who induces fans’ enjoyment while making the game smooth rather than the role of refereeing the decision fits the trend of modern baseball. If you are a referee who destroys the ‘movement of sports’, it can be seen as a wrong judgment that you want to be the main character of the game. Sometimes you need to think about what comes first.

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