May 5, 2011
An Umpiring Mess in St. Pete
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.