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:

Certainly, the strike two pitch was a very bad call, and far too similar to the first pitch of the at bat which was called a ball:

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.

First GIF courtesy of The Blue Jay Hunter. Second GIF courtesy of Cork Gaines.

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]

Comments (70)

  1. I don’t believe that Lawrie intentionally hit the ump with his helmet. That said, he did hit the ump with his helmet, and that’s not okay. A suspension would be fair.

    One thing about all this that kinda drives me nuts, though: I was at the game when Halladay returned to Toronto last summer, and Jon Rauch went apeshit and tried to rip the umpire in half. The Blue Jays entire coaching staff managed to get between the two men and restrain Rauch enough that he didn’t actually get to hit the umpire, but it involved several grown men forcibly restraining him (he even ripped through his uniform in an attempt to break free).

    Rauch had clear intent to hit an umpire, and he didn’t get suspended. Lawrie, immaturely but most likely unintentionally, hit an umpire with his helmet, and he will get suspended. Why should these two incidents be treated differently? I fully support a Lawrie suspension, but it seems ridiculous in comparison that Rauch got away with just a fine.

    • Rauch never made contact with an umpire, though. And it’s too much to suggest that he would have hit him, IMO, I think he just planned to get close to argue and intimidate him with his size.

      On the other hand, Lawrie threw the helmet in the direction of Miller and it made contact with him That will cost Lawrie and rightfully so…he lost control.

      • And really, if Rauch actually wanted to hit an umpire, I doubt Farrell or anybody else would have been able to stop him. He’s massive.

    • Intent matters, but only up to a point.

      This is true outside of baseball as well. Manslaughter carries a longer mandatory minimum sentence than attempted murder.

    • I don’t think you can say that Rauch was going to hit him. It’s not as though he had his arm cocked or anything like that. He wanted to argue aggressively.

      • http://gif.mocksession.com/2011/07/rauch/
        In hindsight, the Rauch thing WAS pretty violent. He tossed his manager like a ragdoll. I honestly thing that if Arencibia wasn’t there to restrain him, he would’ve made contact with the ump (not straight cold-cocking him in the jaw, but some sort of chest-poking, shoulder-swiping, not-knowing-his-own-Hulk-Strength-thing) and seen a few games from the bench, which, honestly, could’ve only helped the Jays bullpen last year

  2. I don’t think you need to add all the “spoiled tantrum” stuff — it’s ad hominem, and doesn’t help your argument. When José flipped out when he was hit by the pitch, and the ump called it a foul ball (or whatever he was thinking), nobody called him spoiled. Just make your case that he needs to be disciplined without the personal attacks.

    I also think that the system is broken, when Hamels essentially misses zero games for integrally throwing a fastball at a player, saying he intended to do it, that he was proud of his actions, that he’ll do it again, and that it’s prestigious. Let’s say Lawrie said all of that afterwards: he meant to hit the umpire, that he was proud of it, that he’d do it again, and that it was prestigious. He might get banned.

    • Jose didn’t throw his helmet at the umpire.

    • I’m sure you already know that there is a big difference between hitting a player and hitting an official, no matter what the sport. You should probably reconsider why you think the system is broken.

      • Of course, I understand that it’s given that hitting an official is looked upon differently than hitting a player. But really, should it be? Neither is part of the game, neither should be condoned, neither should be tolerated.

        I’m not saying that what Lawrie did wasn’t regrettable — in fact, he clearly regretted it. Hamels had zero regret. He was proud of his actions. Attempting to harm anyone should be far more concerning than accidentally hitting someone.

        If someone were driving a car and hit a pedestrian crossing the street, it would be a terrible accident, and if it were truly an accident, the driver at worst could be facing a manslaughter charge (unlikely conviction). If said driver intentionally ran someone down with intent to murder, he’d spend life in prison.

        The system is broken, because of where its priorities lie.

    • How is what Lawrie did not a tantrum? He threw his helmet on the ground. Are tantrums not the action of a spoiled child?

      • the idiot children are already learning from his modelled behaviour. see gif. the second.

      • dusitn, you don’t seem to understand that sometimes you need to argue with an ump so he doesn’t take advantage of you and your team, just like farrell sometimes need to get ejected just to show support of his team.

      • Parkes
        How is what Lawrie did not a tantrum? He threw his helmet on the ground. Are tantrums not the action of a spoiled child?

        Tantrum, just kidding, good on ya.

  3. “Typically speaking, umpires don’t like baseball players heading to first base before ball four is even called.”

    And players don’t like it when umpires make late, incorrect strike calls on obvious balls seemingly in response to a player’s initial move to first.

    There was unsurprisingly little consistency in Miller’s calls last night.

  4. It wasn’t as epic as the Cody Ross slam though. That’s how you slam a helmet.

  5. http://mlb.sbnation.com/2012/5/16/3023351/brett-lawrie-umpire-helmet-suspension-blue-jays

    And the best take on the situation I’ve seen so far has unsurprisingly come from Jeff Sullivan.

    • Man, I need to stop reading the shit here. That is just so much better.

    • I like Sullivan as much as the next guy, but Parkes’ takedown here and at Drunk Jays is far more in depth and actually has an opinion.

  6. ‏ @keithlaw

    “The solution is not to suspend Brett Lawrie for ten or twenty games. The solution is to get the damn calls right.”

    • Law has a point. When do the umpires start becoming responsible? For garbage calls like this one, the Cody Ross strikeout a month ago (oddly enough Rodney-Molina battery again, Molina’s really good at framing pitches), the Helton out when Helton was about a mile off the bag, the Armando Galarraga blown perfect game, etc.

      We have the technology, bring on the robot umpires, I’m sick of these arrogant fat bastards who think they’re bigger than the game.

  7. Slightly off topic perhaps, but fuck that pitch framing bullshit. I’m not saying it doesn’t exist or that it isn’t a skill, just that it’s bullshit. The ump’s job is to judge where the ball crosses home plate, not to make a call based on where the catcher moves his glove. It’s not like that fat lazy fuck Molina did something amazing by yanking his glove down 6 inches on that pitch either, watch the gif of that pitch it wasn’t remotely subtle. Point is, let’s not let pitch framing hide the real issue, the incompetent umpiring going on all across the league.

    • Molina is a lot more subtle about it than most. That’s why he’s so effective, he’s able to fool umpires into believing pitches have crossed the plate.

    • I don’t remember anybody complaining about “pitch framing bullshit” when Molina did it for the Jays the last two seasons. Funny thing…that.

      • It seems strange that Molina continues to get the calls he does. Surely almost everyone in baseball knows about Mike Fast’s pitch framing research and specifically about Molina.

        I would have thought that umpires would be adjusting their strike zones to compensate by now.

        • We are asking a lot considering how difficult it is to make what amount to judgement calls on 5 inch diameter baseballs thrown in upwards of 90 miles an hour across a 17 inch plate. To expect any human to “adjust” to the movement of a glove is nearly impossible. They’re human.

          Which is to say, the balls and strikes calling should not be left to the discretion of humans.

        • I think it’s strange to assume that umpires would adjust. I think it’s abundantly clear that change comes to the umpires union at a glacial pace.

          You can count on one hand the number of times an umpire has admitted to being wrong (Joyce). Miller certainly isn’t going to say anything to that effect in this case if it will make him look bad and give any satisfaction to a hothead punk like Lawrie.

          And maybe this just gives a little more credence to umpires questionable expanding zones in getaway games. The Cody Ross game was a getaway day as well.

          • I could’ve sworn I read the same crew is working the Yankee series as well, which would can the getaway game theory in this case. Logistically that would make sense (or at least it did before the blowup last night).

          • It might be a bit much to expect umpires to adjust their strike zone by a couple of inches when Molina is catching, but would you really put it past them to do it out of spite…

            ‘Hey, some guy on the intarnets says that Molina is making me look like a fool. I’ll show that thin bastard a thing or two.’

      • My issue was never with Molina (although for the record he is a fat, lazy fuck on balls in the dirt), good on him and any other catcher for taking advantage. My issue is with the umps who rely on the location of a catcher’s glove instead of the location of the baseball (and I’m not even sure if that played a role in the Lawrie situation, which is why I said ‘slightly off topic’).

  8. “I don’t think it’s fair to suggest that the home plate umpire was punishing Lawrie on the strike three call.”

    OMFG. How does this guy get paid to write about something he knows NOTHING about?

    SMH…

  9. Can we stop with this tantrum bullshit. All players get upset over calls. If you have EVER played the game of baseball, and care about winning in the slightest, you will get upset over bad calls that cost your team.

    Should he have thrown his helmet? No. Is it unfortunate that it hit the umpire? Without question. Was he acting differently than hundreds of players (and coaches) that have come before him? Absolutely not.

    Your writing consistently proves to us that you’ve never played this game above little league. Saying he should be suspended is one thing (I’d give him between 3-5 personally; you can’t hit an umpire), but let’s quit pretending that he acted so very differently from any number of players.

    • I dunno, man. When was the last time somebody flipped out and threw their helmet at an ump? Losing their temper isn’t rare but acting recklessly like that? Doesn’t happen too often.

      • I can’t recall any player ever throwing their helmet at an umpire. With the incredible emotional intensity that Lawrie plays the game, though, I’m wasn’t all that surprised that he was the one to do it.

      • Even after last night I’ve never seen it done, Lawrie threw his helmet at the ground and it bounced up and hit Miller, big difference between throwing his helmet at Miller.

      • There was a guy who intentionally threw his bat at an umpire and hit him, and he was banned for life and never played again, and never had the opportunity to commit a hate crime while on a road trip. That’s how that story ended, right?

  10. “spoiled child tantrum”

    It’s clear to me that Parkes likes all the name-calling thrown his way.

  11. I wanna see parkes and wilner discuss this. That would be hilarious.

  12. Better or worse than spitting on an Umpire?

    • I felt bad for Robbie in ’96? when it happened at SkyDome. Glad that it worked out well for all parties in the end. This, This is interesting, not sure if better or worse.

  13. I like advanced metrics. I also like old-timey baseball and part of that is respecting the umpire. I’m not looking to defend Bill Miller’s performance behind the plate last night, but for a player that has accrued only half of what could reasonably be considered a season’s worth of big-league plate appearances, Brett Lawrie has a lot of nerve acting like that toward an umpire.

    I’ll go ahead and light the touch-paper: after enduring a season of hockey where many of the players were actively trying hurt each other and there was so much hand-wringing about the ‘lack of respect’, it’s nice to see a sport that has a culture that tries to reign in the worst impulses of testosterone-fuelled competition.

    Also, are we really going to be howling about this come September? It’s a long season, Brett Lawrie needs to take his medicine and that will be that.

    • A player with as much playing time as, say, George Brett would never freak out on an umpire over a call he disagreed with. And they used to respect the umpires in old-timey baseball and no one ever argued or was ejected from a game until 1977. Methinks you’re misremembering history to suit your ideals.

      • You’re right. I wasn’t intending to make an appeal to the good old days, more point out that there are well-established boundaries to the interactions between players and umpires and Lawrie unequivocally crossed that line last night.

        I should have added that anybody in a uniform is well within their rights to dispute an umpire’s call, they’re almost certainly going to get tossed, but I think every player or manager is well aware of that when they come tearing out of the dugout. Ex post facto FTW!

  14. “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.” – Sums it up correctly. This is a 22 year old man who has played baseball for probably 15 years. He should know better and so should Jays fans who are defending him. In the toughest two week stretch of the season so far is it really ideally to be sitting out 5 games?

  15. I love how guys who make a living off being crude and vulgar in baseball, going as far as naming a blog “drunk jays fans” try to take the high ground on issues like this.

    calling someone else emberrasing? please get over it, and get off your fucking high horse

  16. delmon young got 50 games for unintentionally hitting an ump with a piece of equipment when he was in the minors…and he ‘had a rough upbringing’(!)…what’s lawrie’s excuse?

  17. I disagree with Parkes on this one. I don’t even think the “tantrum” was a result of a bad strike call. The blow-up comes from getting tossed from the game. And yes – there is a long history of mind-bending tantrums after coaches and players get ejected from games.

    Not saying what Lawrie did was right.. but there is a lot more grey area here than has been given over two posts about the incident. Stoking the flames by insisting that this was “childish” and not just “wrong” has led to a certain amount of predictable negative reaction.

    • is it? if this guys played on any other team and wasn’t canadian, would you be saying that?

      • Is this a reply to me?

        I’m not sure how you read that my opinion was in any way related to Lawrie’s passport? Baseball is full of examples of people losing their shit. Can we not question why the terms “childish” and “tantrum” are used for this particular player who has also come under fire for his immaturity in other posts on this blog. It just seems like Parkes was using this to prove some larger point about Lawrie.

        Is Lawrie immature – probably. Still, this seems like a whole lot of narrative being constructed to explain a very tense moment that easily could have produced a similar reaction from a more mature player. I’m only saying that the words used may have been different if there wasn’t a larger narrative about Lawrie being constructed over time on this site.

    • Parkes could have been less brash by avoiding the use of the childish tantrum phrase to describe Lawrie’s actions. But on the other hand, I don’t understand why Parkes has suddenly become the lightning rod of enraged fans who are misplacing their anger towards a baseball blogger.

      • Completely agree with you. I also think its incredibly important that people recognize the ability to disagree without descending into a flame war.

        Parkes commented on the situation. That is his job. For people to take it personally is ludicrous.

        I just think that his comment reveals a lot of his own discursive formulation of “Brett Lawrie the immature brat” than analysis of the situation (of which I still say Brett Lawrie was WAY WRONG).

        • Thank you.

          Certainly, my own biases play a role in my writing. I would never pretend as though they don’t. I really have a hard time believing that I’m completely loopy for calling this a tantrum: http://twitpic.com/9lpldd

          • That is a waste of beer, if your going to throw something at him throw an empty cup, jesus next time finish it guy.
            I dont find the fans behaviour embarrassing, you’ve obviously never been to a soccer or hockey game, this shit happens all the time, and all over the world Parkes, you need to start accepting the morons.

          • Fuck off Parkes.

            Just kidding.. seriously though – no contest from me that Lawrie lost his shit and was out of control. I’m not fighting you on that at all. Its a small matter in the grand scheme of things, but I’m suggesting that the terminology may have been different if we were discussing this pic instead: http://images.fanphooey.com/slideshow_images/1309637332/e8581d457fd9fd02560b0fc560edea64.jpg vs the one you linked.

            The question is how it serves your larger argument (from past posts) about Lawrie being an immature douche to refer to him as “childish” and how he threw a “tantrum” rather than how we normally talk about these scenarios. The question is for me is how is the narrative around Lawrie being constructed for better OR worse.

          • I think the biggest problem with your position – and the part that gets you accused of trolling, etc. – is your claim that the home plate umpire was not punishing Lawrie on the strike three call. On that, I expect 99% of your readers will disagree, and not because we’re homers but because we’ve all watched (and some of us played) a lot of baseball in our lives and know how this shit goes down.

            If you were at least intellectually honest about this, you’d get cut a lot more slack, but most of your readers seem to realize what you pretend not to, and we know there’s a big difference between “throwing a tantrum” when a call doesn’t go your way vs. doing the same when an ump intentionally makes the wrong call just to fuck with you and teach you a lesson.

            None of this is meant as a defence of Lawrie – just my view of why your holier-than-thou bullshit rubbed so many the wrong way.

        • This is a great comment and provides some needed perspective. The irony, though, is that Parkes instigates flame wars all the time in the comments section; I find his arguments well-researched but he tends to treat those who disagree with him as though they were bad people. Hopefully both sides can learn from this incident–Parkes can perhaps tone down some of the inflammatory rhetoric and the commenters can back off a bit.

  18. I dont think spoiled child, just passion, if the helmet never bounced it would just be another every week occurrence in baseball.

  19. I thought Lawrie displayed amazing maturity in his post-game scrum.

  20. So any predictions on who gets called up to fill a roster spot?

  21. I don’t think anyone is going to try and say that Lawrie doesn’t deserve a suspension (and if they do they should take off their fan blinders) but I also think it’s hard to say that he should have just shook his head and walked back to the dugout like nothing was happening there.

    Put yourself in his shoes they were at the end of a really frustrating game that he probably knows they should have won but pretty much handed to the rays with all their errors, one of which was from Lawrie himself. Of course he’s up there trying to make up for his teams mistakes earlier in the game so it’s not the word series but it wasn’t any old at bat in the 3rd inning either. Naturally he is upset. He over reacted for sure but you can empathize with him. What you cannot empathize with is the umpire who made the calls, certainly not as he is characterized by Parkes here, where he implies that Lawrie brought the strike three call on himself.

    “Typically speaking, umpires don’t like baseball players heading to first base before ball four is even called.”

    I don’t see how you can fault Lawrie for taking these two harsh calls poorly and not fault the ump for having a bone to pick with him and calling him out because of it. Should the ump be suspended? I don’t think so. Do I think Lawrie over reacted? Although I applaud his arguing and his getting himself thrown out I think the helmet might have been a bit too much but at least I can empathize.

    I remember when you called Cole Hamels an idiot for ‘sending a message’ to Bryce Harper. What this ump did isn’t that much different, aside from the high velocity projectile obviously. Just that old prestigious way of baseball where ump don’t like to get shown up by the players.

    Umps are supposed to call the game. You can tell they are doing a good job when you don’t notice them doing it. Running down the first base line before a call should not be justification for further bad calls. Can we at least admit that umps can be idiots just like players and that this was probably a good example of that?

  22. Is it just me who thinks that if a cop is preceding the umpires off he should be, I dunno, keeping a look out or something? Otherwise why the fsck are they bothering having them?

  23. does anyone know what Miller mouthed to Lawrie after he ejected him?

  24. Brett Lawrie plays with a crazy amount of emotion, sometimes its his downfall but at other times he makes ridiculously ranged out plays at third or up the middle.

    So many people hate on him for the emotion he shows on the field but how often do you see a player with 1/8th the emotion and heart Lawrie shows

    Tossing helmets and throwing everything he can find is part of his persona and although its wild and reckless at times, I love it. Its entertaining and the plays you see come out of this 23 year old are crazy and just make highlight reels day in and day out.

    Hes young but he will develop into an incredible third basemen, and regardless of whether a lot of you say hes a hindrance to the team or hes the heart of it, just imagine the MLB if players appreciated the talent they have and play with 150% like Lawrie does.think about RObinson Cano if he didn’t lazy day every play, you see some of the most incredible plays ever out of this guy but you’ll rarely see him range out up the middle or lay out to make a diving catch, hes trying to make $300,000,000+ and just imagine if the guy played with the heart Lawrie did.

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