The Unbitten Onion
Issue #20: Baseball Players Protest Umpire's Animated Calls
American League third-base umpire Jeffy Hux has earned a following in the crowd, but a resistance on the field.
Orioles third-baseman Tony Batista is leading the protest. "The guy is using the field for his own gig," Batista said. "It is distracting our players and the fans away from the game."
Hux, a 12-year-veteran AL umpire, has been calling, "out," "safe," and "foul," in what some protesters refer to as, "...anything but orthodox and very disruptive," ways for the past three years.
Reports state that his favorite is the Hux-coined, "Michael Jackson Rudo Judo." In this move, after deciding that a player has been tagged out at third base, Hux runs over to the base-runner and throws a right hook a mere two inches away from the base-runner's chin. Simultaneously, he gives four mock-karate chops and screams a word described only as, "Odd ADAH!" He then dances and sings a verse from Billie Jean.
"The fans love it," says Blue Jays CEO Paul Godfrey. "Never before in this sport had I seen kids walk through the gates saying to their dads, 'Think some people will tag out at third today?.' I mean, the mascots are background attractions now compared to this umpire."
And so are the players, according to Tony Batista. "Three years ago, I sold 400,000 jerseys. Last year I sold 18,000, but guess what Hux merchandise has done? Bobble-headed Hux, Dancing Hux...they have a line dance forming in DC now named after the man. He's just an umpire," said Batista, kicking a dugout bench. "And when my son asked for an autographed Hux cap, that was it. We need to stop this fool."
Another crowd favorite is the "Foul Cow Buckin' Bronco," also coined by Hux. If a ball goes foul, he runs full speed in reverse around all the bases mooing, bucking, and finally crying, "Foul." Yankee catcher Chris Widger enjoys that one. "I usually either trip him or run along with him for fun, but he mule-kicks me and snorts sometimes and I can't keep up. But you know, shin protectors and cups and all; I've only had to get medical help, like, two times."
If a runner is safe, Hux uses his more complex, "Reach Out and Vogue," routine. "You know the runner is safe when Hux pulls the cell phone out," says Red Sox left-fielder Manny Ramirez. "He dials straight down the middle, calls some random phone number, then walks around third base saying, 'Can ya hear me now? Good.' Then he puts the phone away and crosses his legs and does this ballet-type of artistic safe sign, putting his arms up and then apart instead of out and apart. It's all hype."
Hux was also berated in the report for getting into fights with mascots, chasing bat boys off of the field with his, "Crab Pincer Side-Skiddle" run, and taking sips from cups of beer offered by the fans.
Fans are petitioning that Hux not be removed, but more and more players are signing up for the opposite. Says Cal Ripken Jr. from the box seats, "Sometimes I forget I'm at a baseball game; it's all about Hux now. But I gotta give him credit—he's never missed a game."
Although reporters were able to ask Hux questions, he would only answer with, "Diane Sawyer or nobody. Talk to the hand."