I used to love Russell Martin. I had him in fantasy for a few years when he used to hit and steal bases. That seems like so long ago. He bounced back into my life today when reports came out about his strange night interacting with umpire Laz Diaz. Umpires have taken a beaten lately, from #robotumps trending on Twitter to Hawk Harrelson dropping the hammer on Mark Wegner. But Martin’s story gets a bit strange. Let’s give it a little recap:
Apparently Russell Martin likes throwing the ball back to his pitcher.
I like to throw the ball, keep the feel, just for throwing, in case somebody steals.
Well, Laz Diaz didn’t think Martin should be able to do that dammit.
The umpire wouldn’t let me throw the ball back to the pitcher. That’s never happened to me before. That’s a good story, right?
Why, yes, Russell, I believe it is a good story. Martin couldn’t really figure out why Diaz wouldn’t let him throw the ball back. Maybe Diaz had been working on his circle change on wanted to try it out on Ivan Nova. Either way, it reeks of an umpire flexing his muscles in a game where they are meant to be invisible. Martin tried to get Diaz over to his side – first employing the sympathy angle.
Even at the end of the game, after I got hit in the neck, I’m like, ‘Can I throw the ball back now?’ He’s still like, ‘No.’ . . . Unbelievable.
He even thought about going to the old “Do you know who I am” well. That didn’t work either.
He told me I have to earn the privilege. Now, thinking back, I should have shown him the gold Rawlings sign on my glove.
Martin never did get to throw the ball back. Was Diaz trying to bait Martin? Was he just being a dickhead?
Honestly, umpires inserting themselves into games in unnecessary ways is getting old. I look at umpires getting calls blatantly wrong and look at strike zone calls that are all over the place at I can’t help but think that we really could use #robotumps. Many calls in baseball are much more black and white than in other sports and could be handled by computers and replay. I have no idea why we don’t just use K-zone or whatever the hell it is called to call balls and strikes. I don’t even blame umpires for this. I’m sure it is hard to tell if a 87 mph slider is a ball or strike.
So Bud Selig, tell your umps back chill out and start getting calls right. Or else you need to hire a technical consultant to start drawing up plans for the first RoboUmp 2000.
If you want to get to Diaz better, check out Deadspin’s overview of his umpiring.