Which sport's officials are best, and which are worst?

May 31, 2010

NFL best, MLB worst

Bill Kline

The Morning Call

One time LeBron James was fouled in January, dribbled once and took three strides and a hop-step in February, jumped in March and finally shot the ball in April. The refs, of course, sent LeBron to the free-throw line. But NBA referees are not the worst, despite allowing players to travel more than Arthur Frommer and to palm the ball worse than a finicky grocery shopper manhandles fruit.

The worst officials are showboating MLB umpires. They allow phantom forceouts at second base, automatically punch out runners on tag plays just because the "ball is there" and have distorted the strike zone.

The NFL easily has the best officials. Replays show they are correct the vast majority of the time. Of course, with so much money riding on every NFL game, its referees had better get it right.

wkline@tribune.com

MLB best, NBA worst

Dom Amore

Hartford Courant

Modern technology has not been kind to officials in any sport.

The ability to get close on virtually any play and put it out in HD has made the word "inconclusive" all but extinct. One would have to say baseball is the best-officiated sport, even if technology has exposed the weaker umps, various labor issues have weakened the group and Joe West and his big mouth are still in the equation.

As for the worst, I'd have to say pro basketball. These refs are the ones from which the most embarrassing scandal has emerged, and since there is no sport where the officiating has more opportunity to control a game, this will take years to get past. It's not saying much, but baseball still comes out ahead.

damore@tribune.com

It's no easy call

Brian Schmitz

Orlando Sentinel

Apparently, Joe West's nickname is "Joe East and West" because being a baseball umpire, he can't make up his mind.

I'm not here to bury Joe but to praise him. He said the slow play of the Yankees and Red Sox is "pathetic and embarrassing." Joe got that right. Every Red Sox-Yankee game is a miniseries.

NFL officials are really robots controlled from stadium booths by the league. Look at Ed Hochuli, robo-ref.

The NBA seemingly has about four great refs and others with learner's permits. It's the hardest game to officiate, and they deserve combat pay for having to hear coaches and diva players whine. And, of course, they are all in on various conspiracies, including Area 51.

You don't hear many people rip hockey refs because 1) it's hockey, and 2) it's the only place you can see a good fight on TV for less than $49.95.

bschmitz@tribune.com

MLB best, NBA worst

Steve Rosenbloom

Chicago Tribune

What's a charge? What's a block? What's over the back? What's competing for a rebound? And let's not even get into the separate rules based on gym shoe endorsements.

The NBA has the worst officiating unless you know which way Tim Donaghy bet.

Baseball's umpires get it right more often than anyone expects. Forget all the arguing and ejections for using naughty words. Replay repeatedly proves that baseball has sports' best arbiters, even if they have two of the worst in Joe West.

srosenbloom@tribune.com

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