For Fans, By Fans

Echoes From 527: Umpshow


Since the beginning, questionable umpiring has played as big a part in Baseball as gloves, bats and dirt. Over the years there has been a constant battle between, coaches/players and the men that call balls and strikes behind the dish or make the decisions in the field.

Like any team, the Toronto Blue Jays have had their share of run ins with umpires in the past. Most notably, fans remember the array of missed calls during the 1985 ALCS between Toronto and Kansas City, the Triple Play that wasn’t during the 1992 World Series and more recently, Yunel Escobar getting called out for “Runner Interference“  deep into extras in a game vs the Angels.

Last season, Brett Lawrie made a name for himself by arguing a 3rd strike call from home plate umpire, Bill Miller. during the tirade, Lawrie drove his helmet into the ground where it then ricocheted harmlessly towards the shocked umpire resulting in an ejection and eventual 4 game suspension for the 22 year old 3rd Baseman.

in 2013, aggravated by what he thought was another questionable call, Blue Jays Right Fielder, Jose Bautista voiced his concerns to the Toronto Media earlier this season. Bautista virtually called out MLB’s umpiring staff with a comment (submitted by that read as follows:

“Sometimes I have trouble more than other people dealing with my production being affected by somebody else’s mediocrity, it’s just the way I am as a person.”

Now, there are a number of ways to argue with an umpire however similar to arguing with your wife, none of them are effective. Bautista’s comments, although valid, were certainly out of line and dangerous for the team.

Like any professionals, umpires are a proud group of individuals. Bautista’s rant on certainly has not done him any favors when it comes to the size of the strike zone as there is no doubt that in today’s world, the printed word travels awfully fast.

Similar to teammates, umpire’s stick together. They will stand up for each other when the situation permits them the opportunity and who knows, perhaps Lawrie’s helmet tossing and Jose’s antics have left a sour taste in the mouths of a number of umpiring crews throughout Major League Baseball.

Of course we would like to side with professionalism in this circumstance, hoping that the past does not play a role in the present or future decisions umpires will have regarding certain teams but the brisk reality of the situation is that these guys are human. They have feelings and nobody is perfect.

On Tuesday, with a pair of runners on base and the Blue Jays inching closer to tying things up with Baltimore in the 8th, Left Fielder Melky Cabrera (who is known to have a good eye at the plate) held up on a 3-2 pitch that he thought had no business being called a strike.

The result? A strikeout in what was probably one of the most key situations of the game for Toronto.

Generally, when a call is botched in that type of situation with your team struggling to score Runs on a regular basis, the Manager is expected to storm the field and have words with the umpire in question.

Instead of shaking things up with  Home Plate Umpire – Alfonso Marquez,  Manager John Gibbons simply remained in the dugout leading to a number of comments from both Blue Jays fans and media a like.

This lack of action can only lead one to believe that perhaps there is a freeze on team vs umpire antics regarding the Toronto Blue Jays. Who knows, maybe I’m reading too far into this.

But then again, maybe I’m not.  At the end of the day, is it really that far fetched of an idea for the team’s management to decide to tone down the umpire reactions?

Well given Toronto’s recent history with the Men in Black, I beg to differ.

Naturally, as I put the finishing touches on this post, John Gibbons gets tossed for arguing balls and strikes in the 9th inning….





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