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#pounditWednesday, May 25, 2022

Articles tagged: umpires

MLB calls out Umpires’ Association over Manny Machado suspension statement

Manny Machado

MLB issued a statement on Tuesday in response to the Umpires’ Association statement about the Manny Machado suspension.

Machado was suspended one game for making contact with umpire Bill Welke after being ejected for arguing a third strike call during Saturday’s San Diego Padres-Colorado Rockies game, the league announced Monday. The Major League Baseball Umpires Association apparently was not happy with the light punishment for “violence in the workplace” and issued a statement on the matter.

MLB responded to the statement from the umpires and said it was not appropriate for them to comment on the discipline issued by MLB. They also said the comparison to “workplace violence” was inappropriate.

Machado appealed his one-game suspension on the grounds that he did not make contact with the umpire.

Umpire Angel Hernandez somehow blew this strike call so badly

Angel Hernandez

Umpire Angel Hernandez continues to make us wonder how he keeps his job.

Hernandez had one of the worst blown strike calls of the season on Tuesday night. He was behind the plate for the New York Yankees-Toronto Blue Jays game and didn’t call a strike on this Masahiro Tanaka pitch down the middle to Randal Grichuk in the bottom of the fifth inning.

Here’s where the pitch was according to MLB.com’s tracking (check the green ball that’s marked No. 2):

That should have made it an 0-2 count. Instead, due to Hernandez’s missed call, it was a 1-1 count and Grichuk homered on the next pitch.

Why did Hernandez miss the call? Probably because he was thrown off by Gary Sanchez setting up inside and expecting a pitch up and in. Tanaka missed Sanchez’s glove but still threw a clean strike. It really wasn’t close to a ball. This goes to show how Hernandez calls pitches based on expectation rather than execution, which is a poor trait for an umpire.

But it gets worse. He missed another couple of definite strikes that inning and called them balls.

Hernandez has been terrible at his job for a while, something we’ve called out many times in the past.

Sadly, this might not even be the worst call from him we’ve ever seen.

Umpire Ron Kulpa criticized for antagonizing Astros following ejections

Two Houston Astros coaches were ejected for arguing balls and strikes early in Wednesday night’s game against the Texas Rangers, but it is home plate umpire Ron Kulpa who has been heavily criticized for the way he handled the situation.

Astros hitting coach Alex Cintron was the first to get tossed when he and several others in the Houston dugout were furious over pitches they believed were off the plate being called strikes. Manager AJ Hinch was ejected next when he came out to defend Cintron, and Kulpa was smirking and seemed like he was enjoying the whole thing. He could also been seen telling Hinch, “I’ll do what I want,” and Hinch later confirmed that’s what Kulpa said to him.

The following inning, Kulpa irritated Gerrit Cole when he inexplicably interrupted the Astros pitcher while he was warming up. Kulpa later appeared to antagonize Cole as he was heading off the field, which led to a discussion between the umpire and Houston catcher Max Stassi. While it looked like the two were having a civil conversation, some have pointed out that Kulpa gave Stassi a condescending shove toward the dugout.

Hinch has had issues with umpires he claims acted inappropriately in the past, but it certainly seemed like Kulpa escalated the situation and was on a power trip. That’s the opposite of what Major League Baseball wants its umpires doing, and it would not be a surprise if he hears from the league about it.

Watch: Home plate umpire Fieldin Culbreth prematurely rings up Jason Heyward

Monday’s tiebreaker game between the Milwaukee Brewers and Chicago Cubs was so exciting that even the home plate umpire had trouble keeping track of the count.

In the bottom of the fifth inning, home plate umpire Fieldin Culbreth emphatically rang up Jason Heyward for the last out of the inning. While you have to appreciate the enthusiasm in such a big game, there was one problem — the strike was only the second of the at-bat.

Heyward’s reaction said it all, and it looked like Culbreth was able to have a laugh at his own expense. Heyward sent the next pitch to the warning track in right, coming up just a few feet short of the perfect ending to the at-bat. It’s been a long season for everyone, so you can’t blame Culbreth for briefly getting swept up in the buzz surrounding Game 163.

Watch: Umpire gets in way during walk-off at Little League World Series

Umpire LLWS

A poorly-positioned umpire played a role in a walk-off win at the Little League World Series on Monday night.

Texas and Georgia were squaring off in an elimination game at Williamsport, Penn. and went to extra innings. The game was tied 6-6 in the bottom of the ninth when Georgia had runners on the corners with one out. A flyout to right allowed runner Wills Maginnis to tag up and score the winning run, but not without controversy. The umpire in right stood in the way of right fielder Matthew Hedrick trying to make a throw home.

Take a look at the positioning of the umpire down the right field line:

There’s no way to know whether Hedrick would have been able to throw out Maginnis at the plate had the umpire not been in his way. But we do know that the positioning prevented him from having his best shot at getting the out. That was a pretty disappointing example of an umpire getting in the way. Unfortunately, we’ve seen worse examples of umps trying to sabotage players.

Ben Zobrist was ejected for making electronic umpire crack

Ben Zobrist

Ben Zobrist was ejected from Tuesday’s loss to the Milwaukee Brewers after cracking a line about wanting electronic umpires.

Zobrist struck out looking in the sixth inning against Jhoulys Chacin on a 3-2 breaking ball outside. MLB.com showed that the pitch was just off the zone.

Zobrist protested the call to umpire Phil Cuzzi, while Chicago Cubs manager Joe Maddon came out to back him. Maddon was tossed, and then Zobrist was ejected too for saying that is why players want electronic umpires.

After the game, Zobrist explained his frustration to reporters.

“I felt like I knew the zone right there, and I felt like the at-bat was taken away from me,” he said.

Zobrist is right. It stinks to have an at-bat taken away like that. At the same time, as long as the human element exists, players like Zobrist should know they are better off swinging at a pitch like that than leaving it in the umpire’s hands. And that’s the problem they’re fighting. We certainly know another Cubs player who would support the change to robot umps.

Umpire Marty Foster ripped for quick ejection of Anthony Rendon

Home plate umpire Marty Foster had a very quick hook in Washington on Saturday, and fans on Twitter were not happy.

In the bottom of the third inning, Nationals third baseman Anthony Rendon took a called strike from New York Mets lefty Steven Matz. The pitch appeared to be low, but Foster, the home plate ump, didn’t think so. When Rendon threw his bat in frustration, Foster ejected him, despite the fact that Rendon didn’t say a word or even turn around.

Fans and writers on Twitter were united in their distaste for Foster’s decision.

We’ve seen some weird ejections before, but this one seems to be one of the most unwarranted. Rendon’s bat toss was a clear act of frustration, but he said nothing and made no effort to show up the umpire. Foster should be embarrassed.

Umpires miss foul ball call on Yasiel Puig in Game 4

Yasiel Puig foul ball

The umpiring crew in Saturday’s Game 4 of the World Series between the Los Angeles Dodgers and Houston Astros missed a call in the second inning that adversely affected the Dodgers.

Yasiel Puig was batting in the second with one out and grounded out to the pitcher. Replays show that Puig actually hit the ball off his foot, meaning it should have been ruled a foul ball.

Here’s how the official rule reads:

Puig ran to first just in case the umpires didn’t call a foul ball, which may have hurt his case to get the foul ball call. Unfortunately for him and the Dodgers, the play is not reviewable.

Cubs benefit from blown call on strikeout in Game 5

Javy Baez catcher

The Chicago Cubs turned around Game 5 of the NLDS on Thursday night against the Washington Nationals with a four-run inning in the fifth that was aided by a blown call.

Max Scherzer came in to pitch the top of the fifth for Washington with his team leading 4-3. He got two outs and then allowed an infield single, single, and then a 2-run double to give Chicago a 5-4 lead. After falling behind Jason Heyward, Scherzer intentionally walked him to bring up Javy Baez with runners on first and second with two out. That’s where things got really weird.

Baez struck out, but he reached on a dropped third strike/passed ball. As if that weren’t bad enough for Washington, Matt Wieters threw the passed ball into right field, allowing another run to score to make it 6-4. A catcher’s interference and hit by pitch allowed another run to score to make it 7-4.

The issue is that on the pitch where he struck out, Baez hit Wieters with his backswing.

MLB rules say that the ball should have been ruled dead and no runners should have advanced due to Baez’s interference.

If no runners should have advanced and the ball should have been dead, it seems like Baez should have been out for striking out and the inning would have ended with the score 5-4. Instead, two more runs scored.

In a Game 5 where every run counts, the umpires hurt the Nats by missing the call.

MLB reportedly threatened to fine umpires over protest wristbands

Major League Baseball’s umpires dropped a protest over player behavior after just one day, but it turns out they had more than one reason for doing it.

The white wristband protests ended quickly after commissioner Rob Manfred promised to meet with representatives from the umpires’ union to discuss their concerns. There may have been another reason, too — according to ESPN’s Buster Olney, the umpires were threatened with fines for wearing unauthorized equipment.

The white wristband protest did not last particularly long for multiple reasons, it seems, but it got people talking. Perhaps that was the point.