Today I am grateful for laughter and humor amidst tense times. I am also grateful for my ability to type, even if I am self-taught and slow.

The word UMPIRE for me conjures up images of softball diamonds, an ump behind the plate and another on the edge of the infield. Softball was the sport I was involved in for the longest time as both a player and a coach. I did a little umpiring myself, but only informally and in a pinch. I preferred to leave that job up to someone else.

But I certainly appreciated the job the umpires did. Though we may have complained at times about inconsistencies in an ump's strike zone and calls we believed they had blown, we usually went about the business of playing or coaching the game and let them go about their business of umpiring. It was rare when we felt umpires may have been pivotal in a game's outcome. In my opinion, the game's outcome was more determined by player mistakes and successes, by missed or seized scoring opportunities, by the way the ball bounced. In other words, the game's outcome was up to the game, not the guy behind the plate.

Allow me to step up on my soapbox briefly. Today it seems part of a growing and concerning trend to "blame" others for losses, defeats, disappointments. I hear more complaints about an umpire or referee's call, about an unfair advantage the other team had, too many "yeah buts" and "if only." Yet, when winning takes place, there's no lack of people wanting to take credit. We can't have it both ways. "Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose" is far more than a trite statement. It is a fact of life. A fact that teaches us more if we accept it than if we deny it.

We are imperfect humans. Players will make mistakes. Even good hitters only get a hit one out of three times.  A great play by one team shouldn't become just a "a lucky call." We are imperfect humans. People will say and do things that they later regret. Blame others or circumstances for a personal choice and chances are I won't change behavior. Own up to that faulty personal choice and I am much more likely to change behavior for the positive.

Stepping down off my soapbox now and saying thanks for the mistakes and the losses that have taught me so much over the years.