Jose Bautista's umpire-bashing could be costly | Baseball | CBC Sports

MLBJose Bautista's umpire-bashing could be costly

Posted: Thursday, April 4, 2013 | 02:00 PM

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Blue Jays slugger Jose Bautista glares at home-plate umpire Jeff Nelson after a called third strike during Toronto’s season-opening loss to Cleveland. (Nathan Denette/Canadian Press) Blue Jays slugger Jose Bautista glares at home-plate umpire Jeff Nelson after a called third strike during Toronto’s season-opening loss to Cleveland. (Nathan Denette/Canadian Press)

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Jose Bautista caused a bit of a stir on Wednesday by talking to reporters about his outbursts with umpires. Bautista has always been pretty willing to let umpires and everyone else know when he disagrees with a call, and his latest comments won't endear him to major league umps.
Jose Bautista caused a bit of a stir on Wednesday by talking to reporters about his outbursts with umpires. Bautista has always been pretty willing to let umpires and everyone else know when he disagrees with a call, and this line won't endear him to major league umps:

"Sometimes I have trouble more than other players dealing with my production being affected by somebody else's mediocrity. It's just the way that I am as a person. It's a tougher pill to swallow for me sometimes."

Umpires are people too. Nobody wants to be called mediocre, and major league umpires are, just like the players, at the top of their profession. Like ball players, umpires have to work their way up through the minors. They can spend years trying to earn the chance to make the majors, where life is better in almost every way (money, travel, hotels, etc.). When umpires make it to "the show" they're understandably proud. So calling them mediocre is something they remember.

They also, like just about anyone, don't like to be booed and yelled at by 50,000 people. When a popular player like Bautista turns around at the plate and makes it clear that he feels the umpire made a mistake, it turns the fans against the umpire. And let's face it: it doesn't take much to turn fans against umpires. We don't see things in the most balanced way, at the best of times. If there's an argument between one of our favourite players and an umpire, we take the player's side.  

Umpires are professionals. They do their best (as much as I grumble about strike zones most games) and they really try to keep personal feelings out of their minds. But they are human. If someone inspired a stadium full of fans to yell curses at you, I'm pretty sure you would remember them.

I don't think Bautista has more calls go against him than the average player, but treating the umpires like they're fellow professionals can't hurt.

There's a right way and a wrong way to do things. A batter can let an umpire know that he disagrees with a call without letting the whole stadium know. A batter doesn't have to look back at the umpire when questioning a call. Without that visual cue, fans are too far away to hear what's being said on the field. If you were an umpire, which player would you prefer: the one that lets the whole park know when he disagrees, or the one that keeps it a private matter between the two of you?

I can understand that it would be pretty tough for Bautista to change. He plays with an intensity that I wouldn't want him to lose. He seems at his best when there's a chip on his shoulder, and that "everyone is against me" feeling drives him. If you want the guy that hits 40-plus home runs a season, you might have to live with the guy that has the occasional blow-up at the umpires.

'Welcome' back Farrell

Speaking of a stadium full of people booing, John Farrell returns to Toronto this weekend in his dream job of Boston Red Sox manager. I'm not normally a fan of getting on former Blue Jays when they come to town with their new team, but in this case, I'll gladly make an exception. I hope there's a full house at the Rogers Centre starting Friday night and I hope each and every one of the fans boos Farrell every chance they get.

I don't understand the point of booing other former Jays. Generally it isn't the player that decides he should leave. And even if he leaves as a free agent, I don't see why fans would take offence to someone that wants to go to a place where he'll be paid the most money. Most of us would do the same.

And coach Brian Butterfield, who went over to the Red Sox too, has been nothing but a professional and a gentleman about the move. The Jays passed him over twice for their manager job and couldn't guarantee him a role with the team this year. We should have no hard feelings towards him.

Farrell is a different case. He left in the middle of a contract. He made it clear that his heart always was with the Red Sox, even when he was drawing a salary from the Blue Jays. The "dream job" line he used in his introductory Red Sox press conference is something all Blue Jays fans will remember.

So, if you're at any of the games this weekend, you have my permission to boo him every chance you get. 

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