After a tough weekend in Atlanta, it appears that the Brewers are going to fall short to the po' faced Chicago Cubs, with their $100-$200 payroll and legions of addled fans. Too bad - the Brewers have been a nice story this year and while the future looks bright, this does not appear to be the year for them. So the Cubs will likely move on; if justice is served, they'll lose to the Padres, just like they did in 1984, or the Mets, just like they did in 1969, or maybe the Diamondbacks, just for variety's sake.
The frustration reached a head yesterday, following a 7-4 loss to the Braves. The Brewers were convinced that the umpiring in the game was substandard; based on the film I saw, they may be right. The problem is the same thing, however: if you really want to be a champion, you have to win games convincingly enough that if a referee blows a call, it doesn't cost you the game. I will never forget Jerry Rice's obvious fumble in the 1998 NFC playoffs that cost the Packers a hard-fought victory; in fact, it was the only time the 49ers have beaten the Packers in the Brett Favre era. But the larger problem was that the Packers should have put the 49ers away a lot earlier.
The problem now, of course, is that suspicion of officiating is running much higher, and rightly so after the revelations that have recently rocked the NBA in the wake of the Donaghy scandal. Baseball umpires have been notably imperious for at least the last 20 years and you'd be hard pressed to find a more obvious narcissist than NFL referee Ed "Check Out the Gun Show" Hochuli whose explanations of rules have enough distinctions to make Bertrand Russell's head spin. I've always believed that officials are best when they aren't noticed, but we seem to have some budding thespians in the officiating ranks in our modern era. It's too bad, really - no one pays to see Ed Hochuli or Ed Montague or Ed Rush. Why are all these guys named Ed, by the way? My dad would be aghast; I'm betting my nephew Eddie is, too.