It seems every season there's a point where frustration with umpires starts to boil over.
We might have already reached that point this season following a series of heated confrontations that culminated with members of the Washington Nationals and San Francisco Giants calling out the umpiring crew from their series.
Specifically, Nationals manager Davey Martinez said he felt disrespected by Wednesday's home plate umpire Tony Randazzo after disagreeing with his strike zone.
Arguing over balls and strikes is something the umpires are not supposed to tolerate. However, Martinez felt Randazzo went overboard and escalated the confrontation by approaching Washington's dugout.
“I was in the dugout,” Martinez said. “I said, ‘Hey, let’s go. You gotta be better than that.’ I didn’t cuss. I didn’t say much other than, ‘Let’s go.’ And what really irritated me was him putting his hand up in my face pretty much.”
“So I can tolerate a lot of things,” Martinez said. “Don’t do that. I have a lot of respect for umpires - everybody knows that. I typically don’t complain too much about them. But you know him walking towards our dugout when I’m in the dugout, I hope the league looks at that because like I said, I didn’t say much to really get tossed. But he felt like I said enough.”
Less than 24 hours later, it was Brandon Belt’s turn to sound off.
The Giants first baseman was ejected after blowing up at home plate umpire Ryan Additon during the seventh inning of a 4-2 loss to Washington.
Brandon Belt has been ejected. Plate umpire Ryan Additon went that way instead of responding with, "You know, I see your point Brandon. That pitch wasn't a strike. Thank you for the honest critique." pic.twitter.com/z1eILVqFCW
— Andrew Baggarly (@extrabaggs) April 18, 2019
It was the culmination of a frustrating day for Belt and the Giants.
Two innings earlier, manager Bruce Bochy was also ejected following a disputed called third strike to Belt.
After the game, Belt said something had to be done about the inconsistency of the umpires.
Belt on home plate ump: “As big leaguers we make adjustments, he’s got to do the same thing ... everybody out there is human, everybody makes mistakes, but when you do it time and time again, something has to be done.”
— Alex Pavlovic (@PavlovicNBCS) April 18, 2019
The Giants-Nationals series comes on the heels of a contentious weekend between the players and umpires.
In the case of Schwarber, he had to be restrained from getting in the face of umpire Gabe Morales after a check-swing call ended a Cubs loss to the Los Angeles Angels.
"I took a look at [the replay] and if I didn't go the first time, I didn't go the second time," Schwarber said, referencing an earlier check-swing call in the at-bat where Morales said he did not go around. "If you're not 100 percent sure, you can't call it. Obviously I was frustrated. Who's not gonna be frustrated when they end the game like that and you're that close to sniffing out a run? Frustrating. I just don't think that it was a good call.”
The inconsistency had manager Joe Maddon calling for the robots.
"Everybody's worried about electronic strike zone," the Cubs skipper said. "I want an electronic method to control check swings. That would be much more interesting and I would prefer that. Let the umpires call the game like they always do. Let's figure out a way to control check swings."
Will it blow over?
More than likely it will. However, we should remember we’re just two years removed from things getting quite tense between the players, umpires and the league itself.
We haven’t reached that point, but the aggressive actions and tone used by the players certainly won’t ease tensions, either. We’ll just say we’re not off to a harmonious start and leave it at that for now.
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