Hating on umpires is so hot right now, you guys. While we had Russell Martin, Jim Leyland and James Loney to entertain us last week, Tuesday's fresh serving of bitterness toward the men in blue comes courtesy of a likely source — pitcher Jonathan Papelbon.
The excitable Philadelphia Phillies closer was credited as the losing pitcher in the Phillies' 4-3 loss to the Dodgers on Monday night after giving up a RBI single to Elian Herrera. The go-ahead knock allowed Dee Gordon to come home with the eventual winning run just one batter after Gordon had led off the top of the ninth inning with a triple.
Papelbon escaped from the inning without further incident, but he couldn't retire to the dugout without trying to air his grievances with home plate umpire D.J. Reyburn, a fill-in from the minor leagues. Papelbon felt his fourth pitch of the Gordon at-bat should have gone for a strikeout of Gordon (instead of being ruled a ball) and the pitch F/X graphic from MLB.com shows he may have been right.
Reyburn, though, wasn't having any of Papelbon's protest and veteran umpire Derryl Cousins broke up the confrontation. Later, Papelbon was asked what went down and he began by saying Reyburn "sucked" before launching into a longer critique of the replacement ump.
From the Associated Press:
''I just wanted to ask him if he could throw me out for what I was thinking,'' Papelbon said. ''He was terrible all night. He probably needs to go back to Triple-A. If you don't do your job, you get demoted or fired. It affected the outcome of the game.''
For the 1,000th time, the rift between the umpires and players is so deep right now that you wonder if it can ever be fixed. There are a lot of things the league can do to react to these reoccurring flareups — here's guessing Papelbon gets fined and Reyburn gets a black mark on his permanent record — but being proactive seems to be out of either the league's abilities or desires (maybe both) right now.
Look, it's going to be a long time before balls and strikes are ever handed over to the robot overlords that Loney desires, but adding instant replay is such an easy fix that you wonder why Bud Selig is really dragging his feet on the issue this long. While instant replay may not have stopped Reyburn from butchering the strike zone on Monday night, it might help to end a current culture where players like Papelbon feel they can go out and announce that an umpire "sucked" that night.
Here's Papelbon talking about Reyburn, a clip that becomes even more enjoyable if you imagine Paps conducting it while sitting on his estate in Mississippi while cracking a cold one.
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