Friday, September 18, 2009

It's a Free Country For Crying Out Loud

Perhaps you heard about the Wednesday night game between the Angels and the Red Sox at Fenway Park? If not, you can catch up here. It seems that the umpires for that game are talking to the league about verbal abuse they received from the Angels' coaches after the game concerning the Nick Green at bat. Looking at the replay (and according to K-zone), it does appear that the Angels' closer, Fuentes, struck Nick Green out twice but the umps saw it differently and allowed Green to walk, forcing the tying run home. The Red Sox soon after won the game.

As sure as shooting, you can expect Mike Scioscia (the hardest name in the majors to spell) and his coaches to get some kind of fine for giving the umpires a bit of lip after the game. Fenway Park is one of those old stadiums where the umpires have to go through the dugout to get to their dressing room. In this case, it's the visitor's dugout and the umps had to go through a hopping mad bunch of Angels. According to the linked story, the umpires have complained to the league about the incident.

Excuse the Fan for his ignorance, but if you don't do your job correctly, that's the way it goes. The Fan doesn't understand this "sanctity of the umpire" crap where the umpires are supposed to be treated like some sanguine figures of virtue. Heck, a lot rides on some of these games and if the umpires become part of the game's story instead of the players, then they should expect to get some grief. The Fan watches a lot of games and despite more observation than ever, the strike zone is still a joke. The inside corner is rarely called and yet anything within six inches of the outside corner is always a strike. High strikes are inconsistently called and home plate umpires routinely call a batter out for a checked swing without getting help from the first or third base umpires. The home plate umpire has the worst vantage point for checked swings.

In the case of Wednesday's game, the checked swing call was made by the first base umpire and it was borderline. If Green had connected with the ball, it would have gone a ways. But it didn't look like he broke his wrists. The bat stayed parallel to the pitcher. Who knows. But that last ball was a strike at the knees and the Angels have a legitimate beef there.

The MLB, like the NFL, routinely delivers fines to its players and coaches who question the umps and referees (respectively). This irks the Fan to no end. The Fan's father fought for this country's first amendment rights to free speech and how dare these leagues outlaw it! That's un-American for Pete's sake. If these guys don't get the calls correctly, they shouldn't be called out on it? When they are, they go crying to the league? Pity the poor helpless schlep that makes great money to call the games if someone dares to question his accuracy in doing so.

The bottom line here is that the Angels won the game and the umpires took it away from them. The Angels have a right to be upset about it. They didn't physically attack the umpires. They didn't block their path. They just gave them a piece of their minds about the calls. Get over it.

Fuentes, for his part, will certainly be fined because he later stated that umpires have trouble throwing up their right hands in Fenway and "other places." Yankee Stadium can be inferred in there. Fuentes further stated that other pitchers have told him the same thing. Should he be fined for stating his opinion? Not in this writer's mind. He could very well be right. Boston and New York have voracious fans and their voracity might make it subconsciously harder for an umpire to pull a trigger on a called last strike. Fuentes has a right to make this point. Any fine would subjugate this right and the Fan has a problem with that. Instead of fining a player in such a case, the league should thank him and start an investigation. But we wouldn't want to have that happen because it would be admitting that umpires are fallible. Well, they are, folks. That's just the way it is.


eyebleaf said...

I was live blogging that game for The Score; just a brutal, brutal, BRUTAL call. The ump should be ashamed of himself.

Josh Borenstein said...

I'm with you guys. As soon as I saw the pitch, I was thinking Green's going to get punched out. It was right over the plate! Nothing borderline about it. One of the worst calls to end a game I've ever seen.

bobook said...

I thought both calls were correct. Even as a Yankee fan, Nick Green held his wrists and the second ball was low. That K-zone crap should be banned as it's completely inaccurate and unreliable.