As I posted over at DJF last night, Toronto Blue Jays third baseman Brett Lawrie lost control near the conclusion of yesterday’s game against the Tampa Bay Rays after he was rung up on back to back called strikes from home plate umpire Bill Miller.
It was an ugly scene that will almost certainly result in a suspension for Lawrie. Typically, in the game of baseball, spiking one’s helmet in the direction of the umpire is generally not an acceptable practice. Making matters worse is that the spiked helmet flew from the ground and struck the umpire.
We’ll look at the called strikes below, but a bad call from an umpire is not a justification for the type of spoiled child tantrum that Lawrie threw last night. Bringing up the inaccuracies of the umpire’s strike zone in defense of Lawrie is as misguided as the errant helmet that he threw at the ground in front of Miller.
Nonetheless, let’s take a look at what led to the outburst.
Lawrie came to the plate with one out in the bottom of the ninth inning, and his team down one run to the Rays. He took two straight pitches from closer Fernando Rodney, both outside to varying degrees, before fouling off the third pitch of the at bat. He then took the next pitch for ball three. With the count at 3-1, Lawrie again kept the bat on his shoulder, taking the fifth pitch of the at bat which appeared outside. He began walking to first base when the umpire called it strike two.
This is what ensued:
And that bad call was followed by a questionable strike three call, that was most likely helped by the framing abilities of Rays catcher Jose Molina. It was also close enough to probably warrant a swing from Lawrie given the count and the circumstances that led to that count. Typically speaking, umpires don’t like baseball players heading to first base before ball four is even called.
However, I don’t think it’s fair to suggest that the home plate umpire was punishing Lawrie on the strike three call. It was borderline, and as we can see below, Miller did show some consistency in calling high and outside pitches for strikes against right handed batters last night:
The Blue Jays actually benefitted from a called strike that was even more outside than the one that Lawrie received. However, even if the calls were as bad as the comments section of DJF imagines them to be, it doesn’t justify Lawrie’s actions which, despite his intentions, help the team in no way whatsoever.
According to the 22 year old player:
[Hitting Miller with the batting helmet] was not my intention at all. I’ve never, ever done anything to go at an umpire before in my life, and I didn’t mean to tonight. I apologize for that. It’s just my passion for the game. I wanted to help my teammates out as best I could. That’s the pride I have in this game. I leave my emotions out on the field.
According to the umpire:
Upon seeing that he was ejected, he took several steps toward me and fired his helmet. It hit me in the right hip. That’s a bit extreme.
That wasn’t the only extreme behaviour the umpire had to deal with, as Miller was struck by a half filled beer cup thrown at him by a fan as he exited the field at the conclusion of the game. That type of nonsense is simply embarrassing.
And The Rest
With their star player struggling at the plate and the team on pace to set a new record for games in which they were shut out, the Los Angeles Angels have done the only reasonable thing possible: they fired hitting coach Mickey Hatcher. [Monkey With A Halo]
New York Mets manager Terry Collins pulled David Wright from yesterday’s game out of fear of he’d get hit with a pitch out of retribution for his team plunking Ryan Braun. Wright was rather unimpressed with his manager’s decision. [The Star/Ledger]
What exactly is wrong with a radio broadcaster excusing himself to buy a hot dog? [Old Time Family Baseball]
Boston Red Sox starter Josh Beckett bounced back from his last start to help shut out the Seattle Mariners. [Over The Monster]
How do we explain Stephen Strasburg’s lacklustre start yesterday afternoon? Well, apparently, someone put some “Hot Stuff” on his jock strap. Or something. [Big League Stew]
Cleveland Indians pitcher Derek Lowe shut out the Minnesota Twins without striking a single batter out. [Let's Go Tribe]
The ninth inning is just different. [MichaelJSilva.com]
Yadier Molina’s mohawk is outstanding. [SB Nation St. Louis]
In the latest edition of The Getting Blanked Show, we talk about how the Dodgers might deal with losing Matt Kemp and how this Bryce Harper kid might end up becoming a good baseball player. [Getting Blanked]