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There's something fundamentally American about heaping scorn on baseball umpires. To hurl earnest invective toward errant authority figures sustains an ancient and honored legacy that finds its roots in the colonists' severance of their ties to the British crown.

The inherent tendency to be suspicious of the competence and motives of those in authority is one of the agreeable dispositions arising from the democratic impulse - within reasonable limits, of course.For example, "Kill the umpire!" as one of baseball's enduring and affectionate exhortations should never be taken as more than a figure of speech. Spirited hyperbole, though, is a solemn right of the baseball fan.

And what fan has not had good reason to suspect serious flaws in the sensory and judgmental faculties of those charged with the fair and impartial conduct of the game? Official misprision must be held to account, short of profanity and mean-spirited abuse, and preferably with wit, irony and satirical sarcasm.