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Mailbag 4/5

How bad does officiating need to be for a significant change to be made?

Cleveland Indians v Detroit Tigers Photo by Bill Eisner/Detroit Tigers/Getty Images

Anuj Bhyravabhotla: Of the incoming freshmen and transfers this year, who’s:

  • got the most upside?
  • is the most likely to start?
  • gonna have the most impact?

Ben: I’m very intrigued by Abdul Janneh from Duquesne. He put up some pretty solid numbers and could continue to do so at Georgia Tech. I think he will end up showing the most upside. Most likely to start is Andre White at linebacker because he’s easily our most experienced linebacker. As far as most impact, I am hopeful and will say the offensive linemen.

DressHerInWhiteAndGold: Barves 2023. You excited?

Ben: I don’t watch a ton of baseball anymore, but it’s cool that the Braves are regularly competing again. I’ll probably try to catch a game sometime this year.

Jake: As the resident Cubs fan on staff, I am a bit jealous of the season’s outlook for the Braves. Sure, the Cubs picked up some decent pieces, but it doesn’t feel like it is enough to compete seriously in the NL Central. I figure the talent on the Braves’ roster should make for another fun season for Atlanta, though.

Drew: I’m super excited for my Guardians. They’re young and fun and should be good.

Maggie: I’m absolutely jazzed about the Braves being back, but my Bally Sports login and I do not see eye to eye on letting me watch the games lol.

EducationalEngineer: There’s been a lot of chatter about how bad the referees were in the Women’s National Title game this past week (the NCAA Women’s VP of Women’s Basketball and the former head of men’s officiating both made comments about it). How bad would the officiating have to be in [sport of your choice] for there to be a significant change made? Or do you think there is a point where that is reached?

Ben: I’m not familiar enough with the rules of basketball to determine whether or not the officiating was bad. I would say significant change should only occur if the results of that bad officiating is regularly changing the outcome of games. I’m not talking about the once in a blue moon horrible call (like the Armando Galarraga near-perfect game). That was a horrible call, but that should not change how the game is officiated. Officiating should have that human element. That’s what makes the game fun!

Chris: I generally agree with Ben, I think things have to be bad in a repeated way in order for a governing body to actually make changes. I’m not sure it always has to be something affecting game outcomes, but it has to be something that is consistently wrong. “Significant” changes are tough though, depending on how you want to define significant. I think there should always be a strong human-based officiating presence in sports - I’m not a huge fan of wanting to bring in too much automation and whatnot. I’d definitely like to see a bit more oversight and ability to challenge officiating though, it does feel like there are too many instances of “everyone knows that was a bad call but the rules don’t allow us to acknowledge that so we have to live with it”. I don’t want the NFL strategy of “take 8 minutes to slow motion instant reply every third play”, but some kind of “guy with video access can overturn a call within 15 seconds” or something feels like it could work in several sports.

Jake: It stinks that the “one bad day” happened in the national championship game, but I don’t know enough about individual referees in basketball (save for Television Theodore) to have opinions about consistency. What I do know from other sports, though, is that usually very talented or otherwise deserving officials are on the crew for the season’s most important games, so I would assume the same thing would be in place here. That said, I think it would need to be systematic or a pattern for any major change to come from this.

Drew: We should always be working on improving refereeing, not just waiting for bad mess ups. That being said basketball is the most difficult sport to referee in my opinion. I think our options there are much more limited. You could pay refs more and make them full time, but I’m unsure how much that would help.

Maggie: I agree with Drew here, that it should be a constant work in progress. The refereeing Sunday night was really bad in my opinion, but as Drew said, officiating basketball games is tough. Not super sure what exactly should be done to improve the overall refereeing ability on the sidelines, but maybe they should start with reviewing what constitutes a technical foul.

EducationalEngineer: What is your opinion on Angel Reese’s “No Ring” taunt on Caitlin Clark?

Ben: It’s sports. Of course there’s taunting. Why is this a story?


Jake: Clark is not exactly a meek player. And, regardless, it’s sports, it is part of the game, so who cares?

Maggie: I’m most impressed that Caitlyn Clark didn’t react to it at all, but I’m honestly glad about it. The taunting evoked a lot of attention and people are still talking about the game, so I think it’s good for CWBB... even if I am tired of seeing the video on social media lol.

YankeeJacket: Coach Brent Key had an emotional response to the Nashville shooting of 3 nine year olds and three grown ups by a mentally unstable person with an automatic weapon. Coach Key’s related that his mother was a third grade teacher and in a tear-filled public statement he pleaded for politicians and the public to move towards a solution to the problem of our children constantly being put in harm’s way and murdered. I read of his remarks in a story posted on The Athletic March 29th, but I have not seen anything about it on From the Rumble Seat. Why has this site failed to report on such an important story? Self-censorship?

Ben: To be frank, I don’t believe From the Rumble Seat is an appropriate medium for that discussion. The FTRS Twitter account acknowledged the press conference where Key made his statements, and I did not see a reason to mention it again on the site. I think Coach Key shares his message well, and I have nothing to add to it. I understand that this may not sit well with people, but I want to keep things focused on Georgia Tech sports. I think the shooting in Nashville was an absolutely horrible event, just like every other mass shooting that has become far too common in the United States today. Hell, my wife is an elementary school teacher. I’m terrified for her. But I don’t think this is the medium to talk about it. Call your congressman/woman, donate to the families who are affected, find ways to be involved to help put an end to this senseless violence.

Bill Brockman: When college athletes transfer out of a program that just hired a new coach, what are the primary factors? Concern about playing time under a new scheme? Immediate dislike of the new coach and/or strong attachment to the fired coach? Something else?

Ben: All of the above and probably more. Ultimately, it will be different for each student. Some players give the new coach a little bit of time, and the fit just isn’t there. Think about if you went to work for a company and you thought your boss was just the greatest thing since sliced bread. One day, he gets a job offer for double the money to go somewhere else and takes it. A new boss gets brought on, with a clearly different temperament. Maybe they are nervous. You give him some time, but after a few months, you see that their management style is just very different from what you were used to. I don’t know about you, but that would prompt me to start looking at another job if it was bad enough.

Chris: I think it’s definitely different for every player. A big name guy might not want to be stuck on a team that’s rebuilding because they need exposure to grow their career. A role player might not want to stay if it’s clear their role will be reduced in a new scheme/style/whatever. A skill position guy like a QB might want to follow a particular set of staff (OC, QB coach, etc.) that they trust and think are doing the right things for their career. I wouldn’t think there would be too many instances of a player just flat out not liking a new coach personally, but I could definitely see management styles, team culture, etc. playing a big role.

Jake: I generally agree with what has been said. At the end of the day, the relationship between coach and player can be intricate and pretty deep, and it can be hard to see someone go and essentially be forced to start from “square one.” That said, I think the main addition I want to highlight is that I have long suspected that Tech could be particularly susceptible to this trend. Given the rigor of classes and limited degree selections, I suspect that sometimes athletes pick a degree that mostly or somewhat fits their interest in order to play with a coach or staff that they like, which has knock-on effects if that coach were to leave. Otherwise, I think Ben and Chris mostly covered it.

reggieball: Do you think the electronic strike zone is a good idea? How many years before the electronic end zone? Will flying cars be the norm within the next 30 years?

Ben: No, as I stated above, the human element should stay in officiating. It gives the game a certain charm, and things just wouldn’t be the same if everything was determined virtually. As for flying cars, I mean, a long time ago, people thought we would have flying cars in 2000 and 2020, so sure, let’s say 2050 now.