The fact that Jose Bautista is sometimes more demonstrative than some people are comfortable with when an umpire’s call doesn’t go his way is nothing remotely close to new.
He was ejected in a September 2010 game for arguing after being rung up by Ed Hickox, telling reporters– like Cody Derespina of Newsday– that he had no regrets. “I did everything I needed to do, I thought, to be successful there. So I can’t control anything else.”
He posted a .946 OPS the rest of that month, and had a staggering .443 wOBA and 182 wRC+ the following season.
In the middle of that stellar 2011 year, in the highest profile game of the Jays’ season– Roy Halladay’s return to Toronto– Bautista argued with an umpire following a call he disagreed with, according to a piece from the Canadian Press.
He posted a .944 OPS over the rest of the season.
On this very site, I wrote on May 12th of last year about the “frustrated antics towards umpires that we’ve seen so often this year,” suggesting that it would be preferable if his “whole cock of the walk, dickhead act lightens up a bit. Not just so it maybe softens the umpires’ stance on not giving him borderline calls, but because it sure as shit isn’t very likable– at least when he’s not producing.”
Following the previous night’s game– a 6-7 loss featuring a call Bautista disagreed with at the start of his ninth inning at-bat– he told reporters that Twins reliever Matt Capps “relies on location and he caught a break. Then he made a good pitch to me up in the zone. I probably should have taken it, but I expanded my zone a little bit because of what happened earlier and I swung at a bad pitch and popped up.”
He posted a .997 OPS from then until he injured his wrist at Yankee Stadium in mid-July.
So not only is Bautista’s supposedly-worrisome relationship with umpires not new– I wrote about it last month, even– it’s also a complete non-issue. There is simply nothing in his indisputably fucking awesome statistics to suggest that he’s ever paid any kind of price for his behaviour. It’s almost as though, as I wrote then, “umpires are maybe better equipped to understand the human nature of ultra-competitiveness than we tend to give them credit for.”
It’s also almost as though, exactly as Jose said, “umpires are always going to make mistakes. That’s the nature of the game, it’s part of the game.”
“If that’s my weakness as a player, then I guess I must be doing all right in other aspects,” he continued, prior to yesterday’s game, according to John Lott of the National Post. “I wish everybody else was more concerned about other things that I’m not doing right on the field, and not the way I react to umpires. I don’t see how I’m making this team a worse team because I react all the time. And I don’t know if I react all the time, but I react more than the normal person.”
“Just because one guy reacts more than the other, then every single time there’s a close pitch it’s a strike? Or are you going to go by the parameters defined by Major League Baseball, what’s a strike and what’s a ball? I’ll let you decide what’s right and what’s wrong on that one. It’s not my place to decide,” Bautista said, continuing to be bang fucking on.
Sure, he probably could have worded it better when he declared, “Sometimes I have trouble more than other players dealing with my production being affected by somebody else’s mediocrity,” but guess what? That’s kind of exactly it. He’s not piling up outs on a shit-tonne of phantom strikes deviously called by some butthurt blue. He feels that guys are missing calls, and he simply wants the right one to be made– for what his finely attuned eyes are telling him to agree with what the man behind the plate says– because he makes his living by being able to control the zone.
Umpires take a whole hell of a lot more shit on a day-to-day basis than whatever Jose does. Frankly, I’d say that the notion that they’re a bunch of unprofessional crybabies who couldn’t possibly get this ought to be much more offensive to them than Bautista’s too-overt disputing. Especially since even Bautista himself, according to Lott, “said he had no ‘statistical evidence’ that umpires are tougher on him because of his open disagreements.”
And he’s right! So… uh… why are we talking about it again?