This week, the MLB Minute examines Blue Jays, Umpires Escapades, Reds Not So Hot, and the fact All Double Headers Are Not The Same
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* During the course of the past week, two veteran Major league Baseball umpires issued public apologies for on-field decision they made. While it is refreshing to witness umpires taking responsibilities for mistaken calls or questionable behaviors, it is disturbing that select umpires continue to have negative impacts on games.
On Monday, Mets starter Chris Bassitt delivered a strike at the knees on a 2-2 count to Dansby Swanson to end the inning. Bassitt was so confident he had struck out the Braves shortstop, he began walking off the mound. Problem was home plate umpire Chad Fairchild called the pitch a ball. Bassitt did get out of the inning without allowing a run, but he was visibly angry about the missed call.
In between innings, Fairchild called out to Bassitt as he walked back to the dugout. Without fanfare, Fairchild tapped his chest protector several times after attracting Bassitt’s attention and mouthed an admission that he had missed the call. Bassitt made it a point to thank Fairchild during post-game interviews and issued his own apology for getting so emotional and for “showing up” the umpire.
After the home half of the first inning of a Wednesday game between the Diamondbacks and the Marlins, first base umpire Dan Bellino stared down Arizona starter Madison Baumgarner during a routine substance check. You could see the excitable Baumgarner seething during the extended search and after it was complete he repeatedly cursed out Bellino. Bellino immediately ejected Baumgarner and added fuel to the fire by aggressively yelling back at the pitcher. After reviewing the incident, MLB fined Bellino for his actions and on Friday the umpire issued a statement apologizing for how he handled the incident. “When I began my MLB career almost 15 years ago, I received some good advice. I was told to umpire every game as if my children were sitting in the front row. I fell short of those expectations this week. While I can’t go back and change what happened, I take full accountability. I will learn from this incident, and I sincerely apologize.” Another positive instance in which an umpire took responsibility for his mistake-but another case of an umpire making himself more important than the action on the diamond.
Players are subject to fines and suspensions for behaviors deemed too aggressive or unsportsmanlike-especially in regards to umpires. Players have the right to appeal under the Collective Bargaining Agreement-as do major league umpires. The Office of the Commissioner needs to be equally vigilant and uniform with suspensions for umpires when they break the code of conduct. This should include instances of gross negligence when calling balls and strikes. The umpires are protected by their union and can also appeal per terms of their contract with MLB. The time has come that headlines should only mention the names of teams, players and managers and not umpires.
Blue Jays fans no doubt remember the dreadful start to the 2019 season, their first under Manager Charlie Montoyo. The successes of the 2022 season may cloud those memories to some degree, but through the first 25 games Toronto was a woeful 8-17 and needed a 4-game winning streak April 18-21 to achieve that many wins.
We bring this up in light of the historically horrible start the Cincinnati Reds have gotten off to-3-22. Considering the Reds started the year 2-2, the depths of despair have deepened as the season has progressed. The Reds have a -67 run differential through Friday night’s games and actually scored more runs in one inning against the Pittsburgh Pirates (7) than they had scored in any game. Yes the Reds cleaned house during the off-season, moving as many large contracts as they could to set the foundation for a rebuild. But even the historically awful 1962 New York Mets (40-120) and 1899 Cleveland Spiders (20-134) had more wins (4) after 25 games.
Recent history saw the 1988 Baltimore Orioles lose their first 21 games before splitting their next 4 games to fare worse than Cincinnati. Another long-time Jays rival- the 2003 Detroit Tigers- matched the futility of the Reds through 25 games en route to the third worst season in major league history (43-119). Reds fans can take heart in the knowledge that the Orioles nearly won the AL East one year after their disastrous 1988 season and the Tigers were in the World Series 3 years after flirting with unflattering history.
Blue Jays fans who remember the expansion years of 1977-79 know history is never kind to the losers and 2019 was not that long ago. So pity towards the pitiful should be an easy thing to muster. Given the fact that the 2022 Toronto Blue Jays are considered prime pennant contenders, you will forgive those of us who have already circled the weekend series May 20-22 at Rogers Centre as a prime chance to watch Reds victims being thrown to the hungry pennant chasers.
* Many Blue Jays fans were confused on Saturday when the team had to play the first game of the doubleheader versus the Cleveland Guardians with a 26-man roster and then were permitted to add a 27th man for the second game. The Guardians faced the same roster dilemma but many of us did not understand why this occurred.
The answer was a simple one. If a doubleheader has been scheduled as part of the standard MLB schedule, then the 27th man can be added for both games. But in the instance of the Saturday doubleheader, only the second game was eligible for expanded rosters. Why? Since MLB teams seek to maximize revenues under every circumstance, the doubleheader was designated as a split doubleheader. From a fan’s perspective, this meant that a separate ticket would need to be presented to attend each game. Ticket holders for the rained out Friday night game could present their “rain check” to gain entrance to Progressive Field for the second game. Because weather created the need to play two games on the same day, the teams could take advantage of the 27th man for the rescheduled game but not the originally scheduled game. Even though the game time was technically changed for Game One, it was the originally scheduled game for that date. So the first game would not be eligible for expanded rosters but the rescheduled game would.
Does this make sense? Not really from a fan’s perspective. But baseball is a business, business has regulations, and regulations always seem to cost the paying customer more money.
*Featured Images Courtesy Of DaveMe Images. Prints Available For Purchase.
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Jersey born, Pittsburgh resident, baseball lifer. Staff Writer jaysfromthecouch.com. Host THE ON FEK CIRCLE on JFtC YouTube Channel. Regular guest on Jays From the couch Radio Podcast. Established WPPJ Rock-a-thon benefit, which has been broadcast annually since 1981 and has raised for than $500,000 for the Early Learning Institute of Pittsburgh. IBWAA member.