Umpiring is often a thankless job. In Mark Twain’s A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court, they’re typically beheaded as soon as they make a controversial call, and modern fans routinely abuse them and question their eyesight. “But their integrity is unquestioned,” writes George Will in the Washington Post, and America could use more figures like that right now.
The umpire presides over the most important part of the field—the strike zone—with absolute authority. Their job is to let the game pass through them, unobtrusively filtering out impurities. “Umpires, baseball’s judicial branch, embody what any society always needs and what America, in its current financial disarray, craves,” Will writes, “regulated striving that, by preventing ordered competition from descending into chaos, enables excellence to prevail.”