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Thursday, July 27, 2017


   After an entertaining, bizarre, and really bad night in Arlington, there's no way to sugarcoat it:
   Umpire Gerry Davis needs a sense of humor. Because, yep, he's a major league asshole.
   On a sweltering July night at Globe Life Park in which Yu Darvish might have thrown his final pitch as a Ranger, it was the arrogant umpire who decided to inject his pall-bearer gravity into a laugher of a game by ejecting future Hall-of-Famer Adrian Beltre for - I kid you not - standing to the left on the on-deck circle.
   They say you can go to a baseball game and see something you've never seen. Man, are they right.
   Last night I witnessed:
   *A combined 32 runs
   *Yu surrendering 10 runs in 3.2 innings, the 2nd-shortest outing of his career.
   *3rd-string catcher Brett Nicholas mopping up on the mound in the 9th, and offering a 45mph slow-pitch softball.
   *And Beltre, one of the game's greatest and goofiest players, getting tossed for daring to exhibit a moment of levity at his doorstep of history.
   The score was 22-8 and it was approaching 11 p.m. on a Wednesday. The only reason there were a couple thousand of us fans left in the stands was Beltre. He already had 3 hits including a homer and a double off the wall, and was in his usual on-deck position preparing for what we all hoped would be career hit No. 2,997.
   Enter Gerald Sidney Davis, aka Baseball Buzz Killington.
   Earlier in the game my Dad and I had already taken note of Davis. He's been around forever. Crew chief since '99, umped 5 World Series and has the 2nd-longest tenure. He's obviously good at what he does. But he does it despite a surly, smug disposition that would make even our President cringe.
   Davis was the 2nd Base Umpire and on a couple of relatively close plays - a sliding double and a double-play pivot - we were amused, no, make it annoyed, that he made no call. None. Not as much as a shrug in reaction to the plays. Pretty clear to us that the runner hustling for a double was safe, but there was a tag. And similarly routine that the double-play pivot was executed without hiccup for an out.
At least I had a good view of a bad outing.
   But Davis' grandiose delusion caused him to deem neither play worthy of him even lifting a pinkie. He responded to each with ... nothing. He stared at the play and then walked away. The play, his warped ego reassured him, wasn't even close enough for him to stoop to making a hand gesture. "Even the peasants can figure that one out"? Guaranteed with a closer play - with perhaps the game on the line - Davis would get a running start and land the dismount with an exaggerated "Look at me!" out or safe call that would surely grip and enthrall the onlooking commoners.
   My guess is that throughout the stadium little boys and girls with their caps and their gloves and their baseball obsessions watched both plays and were left not impressed by Davis' visible indifference, but rather confused enough to ask "Dad, was he safe or out?"
   With nothing to justify him being a part of the proceedings, Davis decided to shove his sourness into the game in the bottom of the 8th. Beltre - as he has done for, oh, 20 years - was standing about 5 to the left of the on-deck circle. Out of nowhere - totally unprovoked - here comes the jerk of a judge.
   Inexplicably, he yells at Beltre to move to the right and stand on top of the on-deck circle mat adorned with the Rangers' logo. With comic reactions as fast and slick as his Gold Glove, Beltre instead drug the mat to where he was standing.
   To Davis, this was an unpardonable felony. He picked a fight, but when Beltre dared to "fight" back, he threw him out of the game. "Nobody disrespects me!" the giant ego in Davis' little brain was sure to be screaming. In Davis' scenario, Beltre should've moved, stood somewhere he was uncomfortable standing and saluted "Sir, yes sir!" in the process.
   Because, you see, Davis would like us to believe he is baseball royalty. An advanced, decorated professor of the sport. His inner monologue has him being such an expert of the game that we should all bow at his feet while he wows us with his judgments.
   But Davis is not a black-belt in baseball, merely a black eye on the sport.
One I won't soon forget. Thanks, Gerry.
   How are we certain that his 8th-inning temper tantrum was merely a grand personal publicity stunt to get him some needed attention? Because last night - and every night - 1st and 3rd-base coaches stand as much as 20 feet outside their designated box. Because after Beltre's ejection, Mike Napoli's customized on-deck circle was on the grass even closer to home plate than Beltre's. And Jonathan Lucroy stood to the left of the plastic circle. To the left of it, yep, even more left than it was after Beltre's relocation.
   From Davis? Not a peep.
   It's clear he wasn't enforcing any rules, he was merely making himself feel important.
   Never met Davis (nor do I ever want to), but my image is of him dining alone after a game. Sending back the soup because it's too soupy. Customizing his meal with 42 alterations. And then, you guessed it, leaving a $0 tip because such a mundane meal was beneath him.
   Davis was likely very satisfied with himself last night. He had reminded Beltre - and everyone in the stands - who was the real boss. In his world, remember, we paid our money to watch him umpire just as much as paid to see players.
   There will be a day - hopefully sooner than later - when baseball is flawlessly ruled by computers, GPS, laser technology and advanced gizmos equipped with no egos or agendas, and that mercifully will make umpires obsolete. Our kids' kids will laugh at the fact that we once upon a time relied on humans to judge our beloved outcomes.
   And they'll be right, because last night there was nothing funny about Gerry Davis' devoid sense of humor.