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May 5, 2011

BP Unfiltered

An Umpiring Mess in St. Pete

by R.J. Anderson

Not often that both managers are ejected during the same game, but John Farrell and Joe Maddon were given the hook in the same inning last night in St. Petersburg.  

Farrell was the first to go. During a pitching change, he began a conversation with home plate umpire Chad Fairchild. Before long, a few strike zone mentions snuck into the discussion—as they are wont to do whenever a manager and umpire are speaking—and then Fairchild gave Farrell the hook. Maybe Farrell has a point, looking at this chart from Brooks Baseball:

Anecdotally, it did seem like starter Brandon Morrow was squeezed on a few sliders before his removal from the game. Still, some calls went against the Rays--and against B.J. Upton in particular. Notice the red triangle off the plate on the right-hand batters side of the strike zone? Fairchild rang Upton up on that in the ninth inning. Upton, usually soft-spoken and in control of his emotions, unleashed on Fairchild and was also ejected, although the game ended a few at-bats later.

As for Maddon’s tossing, it started on an innocent enough play. Sam Fuld hit a ball to third base, an off throw pulled Adam Lind from the bag, meaning he had to take a swipe at Fuld’s back in order to secure the out. Joe West, who just had to be involved in the umpiring mayhem, called Fuld safe, prompting acting manager Don Wakamatsu to storm out of the dugout and ask for an umpire conference. Despite the first base umpire having the best vantage point of the play and deciding the runner was safe, somehow the crew overturned the call and decided Fuld was out on the play, ending the inning.

You can guess that Maddon wasn’t a happy camper: he spent the duration of the next five or so minutes screaming in West’s face and gesticulating wildly towards Angel Hernandez. The entire fracas is viewable here. Unsurprisingly, Maddon spent his post-game press conference talking about the need for instant replay and then took to Twitter to press for it once more, firing off this tweet.

Perhaps assisting in Maddon’s plea is the umpiring crew admitting that an error may have occurred on the overturn—too late to help the Rays, of course.

R.J. Anderson is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see R.J.'s other articles. You can contact R.J. by clicking here

4 comments have been left for this article. (Click to hide comments)

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BP staff member Jason Collette
BP staff

Compare Fairchild's last two games behind home plate. The red triangles out to the left and right were strike 2 and strike 3 in the final Upton at bat. Deliberate? You be the judge.

May 05, 2011 09:00 AM

Watching that play, I don't know how you can claim that the first base umpire had the best vantage point. His view was blocked by the runner. On the other hand, whichever vantage point the umpires decided was best was obviously wrong as well.

May 05, 2011 09:04 AM
rating: 1

"whichever vantage point the umpires decided was best was obviously wrong"

Oh man, I had a good laugh at that. So true.

Also, Joe Maddon looks like Gene Hackman. I know this has been said, but it seems even more true when he is angry and/or frustrated.

May 05, 2011 10:23 AM
rating: 0

At least last night, Fairchild was having a tough time with the down & in on righties. Although if you read that article about B & S calls by umps, those were undoubtedly pitches to left handed batters as outside pitches to lefties have by far the greatest deviation.

May 05, 2011 11:57 AM
rating: 0
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Fantasy Focus: Back in... (05/04)
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The BP Broadside: Eigh... (05/05)

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