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2006-09-19 - 9:37 a.m.

God, what a wake-up call.

I roll out of bed, get the paper, crack open a soda to lube my mouth, and sit down to check my e-mail. As I browse, I found this.

Now, I'm pissed off.

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) � The instant replay official whose failure to overturn a bad call led to a narrow victory for Oregon over Oklahoma said he feels like he is under siege after receiving menacing phone calls and a death threat.

Gordon Riese said he would make a decision soon about whether to finish the season, or even whether to return next year.

"I'm struggling with it," Riese said in an interview at his home. "I feel so bad I missed that call, it's driving me crazy."

A former college baseball pitcher in the 1960s who was inducted into the Portland State Hall of Fame in 1997, Riese said he never played football but always enjoyed the game during 28 years as a Pacific-10 Conference official.

"I loved it, I absolutely loved it," Riese said.

But that was before he became an instant replay official.

"I've felt much, much more pressure as an instant replay official than I ever did on the field," Riese said.

He said the equipment is not as sophisticated as NFL replay equipment, and does not allow the official to freeze the frame. But Riese lays the blame on himself after replays showed that an onside kick was touched by an Oregon player before it traveled the required 10 yards. The Ducks went on to score the go-ahead touchdown.

"I can't sleep, I can't eat, my blood pressure is skyrocketing," Riese said, looking haggard and worn as he sat on the front porch of his house.

His wife is a registered nurse, and has been checking his blood pressure every four hours, he said.

Riese said he has stopped answering the phone, and police are investigating the threatening calls while keeping an eye on his neighborhood.

"They not only threatened me, they threatened my wife and kids," Riese said.

Riese has endured plenty of physical pain in his career. He said a torn rotator cuff ended his pitching days, all the ligaments in his right knee were torn when he was hit by an Oregon defensive back at Autzen Stadium in a 1984 game against Washington State, and he separated a collarbone when he was run over by opposing linemen trying to block each other in the 2005 Fiesta Bowl.

The knee and the collarbone still bother him, occasionally, he said. But not as much as his ruling from the booth last Saturday.

"I don't know how to deal with it," he said. "I guess it's just one of those things."

If you've been reading this blog at all, you've probably figured out I'm an Angels fan. And I've seen (and heard on radio) some bad calls. But I also know that it's a fucking game. It's not life and death, for crying out loud. I have tremendous respect for the umpires. They are under so much pressure to call the game absolutely fairly, straight down the line. There's everybody in the stands - and on the field - yelling at you if you make a mistake.

And what about the guys who ump and ref the high-school and kid's games? They sometimes have the "show-biz parents" who think their child is the next Nolan Ryan or Barry Bonds, and if you blow a call - or worse, if THEY THINK you blew the call - God help you.

Officials sometimes blow calls, and yes, it can be costly to your team. You know what? Suck it up. Hell, fucking LIFE blows calls sometimes. Didn't get the promotion because your boss thought someone else did YOUR work? The cop pops you for speeding instead of the Ferrari that blew past you doing 110 in the slow lane? Life is like that sometimes. You roll with it.

The ref or ump or whatever official is a fucking HUMAN BEING, and human beings MAKE MISTAKES. The trick is, knowing when it really is life-or-death.

Sometimes even I protest calls. But that doesn't mean I don't respect the officials, or wish them dead. You CAN disagree and still respect the other person. I've had some interesting arguments with friends and family over the years. Did I get pissed off? You bet. Did I still respect them? Of course. And these are people I am closer to than an official at a sports event.

One of the most famous umpires in early baseball was a gentleman named Bill Klem. He made a controversial call in one game, and was later shown pictures - absolutely incontrovertible evidence - that he'd blown the call.

Klem faced down his accusers and said, "Gentlemen, he was out because I said he was out."

Suck it up.


After typing all that, I feel better now.

Oh, today's title? It's a song from Sesame Street, of all places. Here's a link to the video on YouTube.


Oh, and if ye be a carin' sort, today be Talk Like A Pirate Day. Arrr, matey.

Be seein' ye.


3 comments so far

Judith - 2006-09-19 12:46:53 -
It's definitely just a game. I get upset when I see bad calls made but most of them even out anyway. Especially in baseball. I hope that poor guy can bounce back from this ridiculousness.


Smed - 2006-09-19 12:50:16 -
You know, I made a comment on Deadspin yesterday about Oklahoma, and some jerkhole read it, went onto MY site, and cursed me out in my entry about my daughters. Hello, IP bannation!


artgnome - 2006-09-19 17:49:58 -
arrrggh, there's a right fine lad, matey! I raise the flag in yer honor!


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