11:47PM Eastern

This was going to be a post about how the Blue Jays kicked away a tremendous start by Henderson Alvarez with shoddy defense in the top of the 7th inning, but home plate umpire Bill Miller rewrote the script with his complete and utter disregard for the game he was working in the bottom of the ninth.

It’s an umpire’s job to call balls and strikes, safe and out and to maintain control of the game.  It’s not an umpire’s job to insinuate himself into said game by enacting personal vendettas when he feels slighted, and that’s what Miller did.

With one out in the bottom of the ninth, Brett Lawrie took a 3-1 pitch that was, conservatively, six inches outside.  The overhead camera angle showed that the pitch actually got a piece of the left-handed batters’ box.  Lawrie started to trot down to first base, thinking that he’d walked, but Miller called the pitch a strike, causing Lawrie to freeze about 20 feet up the line or so and come back to the plate.  Lawrie didn’t say anything, he just dug back into the box, and Miller didn’t say anything to him, either.  The next pitch was clearly high, and Miller called it strike three.

One mistake is acceptable from an umpire – they’re human beings, after all (though I still believe they should all be replaced by robots) – but to compound that mistake with another intentional mistake because your feelings were hurt is thoroughly unprofessional and should be completely unacceptable.

We can’t know what Bill Miller was thinking, mostly because he refused to answer questions from a pool reporter after the game, but it seemed abundantly clear that he wasn’t going to let this punk kid “show him up” on the field.  Whether or not Miller had his mind made up that the next pitch was going to be strike three no matter where it was, we can’t know (and of course he never would have said that anyway), but it certainly looked as though Miller was more than ready to ring Lawrie up – he called strike three with tremendous enthusiasm – and knew that he would eject him from the game shortly thereafter.

It was a disgusting display, and one that happens all too often on the playing fields (and courts and rinks, etc.) of professional sports.  Officials get a burr in their saddles and decide “I’ll show them, they can’t treat me like that” and they get away with it all the time.  It’s an affront to the games over which they purport to watch, it’s completely unprofessional and it should be subject to severe consequences – but it’s not, and so it continues.

A ball is a ball and a strike is a strike.  That doesn’t change based on whether your feelings are hurt.

Lawrie will face supplementary discipline from the Commissioner’s Office because he threw his helmet into the ground and it bounced up and hit Miller in the hip – Lawrie wasn’t trying to hit the umpire, he didn’t throw the helmet AT him, but he should have known better than to throw it anywhere near him.  Miller will face no discipline for possibly altering the outcome of a major league game in order to follow through on a personal vendetta.  Heck, he didn’t even have to answer questions from reporters.  It’s shameful.

Here’s tonight’s edition of The BlueJaysTalk, for your listening pleasure:

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With the Blue Jays appearing to be in free fall, having lost four of five and seven of ten, the Rays hustle on out of town and the New York Yankees come in for a two-game series starting Wednesday night.  It will be a huge test for the Jays’ fourth and fifth starters, Kyle Drabek gets the nod in the opener against Hiroki Kuroda.  Note that even with all the gnashing of teeth and rending of garments among Blue Jays fans over the recent stretch, the team has never been under .500 at any point this season, and even with so many things going so badly right now, they remain just a game and a half out of a playoff spot. We’ll be on the air at 7:00PM Eastern – join us, won’t you?

Please give me a follow on The Twitter, you can find me @wilnerness500.  Brett Lawrie can be found @blawrie13, Bill Miller @notsomuch.

Comments are welcome – I read them all and respond to most!

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40 Responses to “For Shame”
  1. 1.

    What was with Rodney’s grandiose gesture at the end? And did you notice @notsomuch kind of nod and re-assure Rodney after “strike 2″? Rodney is now on my list of least-liked players, which only really includes A-Fraud, Alex Rios and A.J. Pierzynski. That a lot of As, but I don’t mind Oakland.

    MW: I wasn’t surprised by Rodney’s celebratory gesture at the end of the game – he’s a former teammate of Jose Valverde’s, after all. The move from Miller confused me, though – he was either apologizing for the slow call on the pitch before or saying “I’ll take care of it” with regards to Lawrie.

    - Todd
  2. 2.

    I think that there is an equal need to focus on the fact that MLB won’t take any disciplinary action against an umpire to prevent this in the future.
    Bill Miller’s conduct was a disgrace. It shows utter contempt for the game and the league … he is above it all, does what he pleases. I find it very disconcerting that when an individual official brings question to the integrity of your sport and your league that MLB will sit by and do nothing. MLB should be as offended by the actions of Bill Miller as all the fans were.
    Shame on Bill Miller for his actions and shame on MLB for not protecting the integrity of their league by taking any action to prevent this in the future.

    - Joel Miles
  3. 3.

    One word sums up the umpiring problem:

    Unions.

    I say this without the least bit of irony or sarcasm as someone who is a dues-paying member of a large and publicly disrespected public-sector union in Ontario.

    It may sound hypocritical but I hate that I’m unionized (interestingly, I had no choice on membership).

    Far too many unionized workers game/troll the system, think they’re entitled to exorbitant benefits that 99% of Canadians could only dream of, complain the most but do the least, think that “seniority rights” were etched into the Ten Commandments, think that merit should count for nothing and show open hostility to people like me who dare to question the legitimacy of unions in the modern workplace.

    The behaviour is clearly similar among the MLBUA: Bill Miller trolls Brett Lawrie tonight and Lawrie predictably reacts.

    Lawrie will get a suspension but in a few weeks, no one will remember Bill Miller’s actions. Why?

    No reprimands. No accountability. No performance review of his ball-strike calling. No easily obtainable public record of his work to publicly expose or shame him.

    Remember in 1999 when the MLBUA tried that ridiculous strategy of threatening to resign en masse to kick-start negotiations on a new CBA?

    I believe Sandy Alderson, then an MLB executive uttered the classic line, “This is either a threat to be ignored or an offer to be accepted.” as MLB went on to pick and choose which resignations they would accept – quite possibly the first ever public merit-based assessment of MLB umpires.

    My question: why didn’t MLB do everyone a favour and take a hard line in 1999 by cleaning house and trimming the bad umps when they had that chance especially when the umps started splintering and back-pedalling and showed weakness in their resolve in their negotiating stance?

    MW: They did get rid of quite a few of them, and for a few years the umpires were far less combative and belligerent. But it has started to swing back the other way.

    - Adrian, co-alumnus
  4. 4.

    Did that fan who threw the beer at Miller get in trouble ?

    MW: The game was over, so he couldn’t get ejected or anything, but it’s possible he was fined, or even banned from the ballpark for a while.

    - Dougie
  5. 5.

    Really like your take on the events, here. Miller really does seem to have abused his position. Officials don’t have any risk of penalty, do they??? Thanks

    MW: I guess they do if their actions are particularly egregious, but not usually.

    - Marty
  6. 6.

    Hey mike. Totally in agreement with you on the whole robot umpires thing. That was just bogus. Ball 5! Unreal! My hat is off to the fan that threw the beer at him. That’s the only punishment that Bill Miller is going to get.

    - trevor
  7. 7.

    Mr. Wilner
    There are robot umpires. Look for them on your PS3’s and Xbox games. Baseball is a grand old game with grand old traditions that include interactions of humans, on offence, defence and umpiring. Sure wrong calls are made but in the long run they even out. We are quite willing to take the “wrong calls” that go our way. Don’t get me wrong, I love the way Lawrie plays and the excitement he brings to the team but he is impulsive sometimes and I think that if he had stayed in the box and waited for the call it would have been ball 4. And I watched the replay over and over. In the third second after he picked up his bat and stared directly at the umpire his jaw moved and I will bet that something came out of his mouth however we weren’t privy to the camera angle that showed his face at that second.
    During 8 years of coaching well over 100 kids, one of the most valuable lessons I taught was that a player’s strike zone was directly proportionate to the size of his mouth (a lesson even Bautista could learn). It might not be right but it is a fact that the old timers will continue to “school” the kids that appear too big for their britches. Young Bryce Harper’s message came on the wings of a Cole Hamels’ fastball. Hopefully young Mr. Lawrie learned 2 lessons last night. Be a little less impetuous and wait for the umpire’s call before running off to 1st. and batting helmets often take tricky hops on artificial surfaces.
    By the way, you did a not so surprisingly good job sitting in for Alan Ashby on the road and I wish you luck in your upcoming stints with Jerry Howarth.

    MW: Thanks for the kind words, I appreciate them, but I can’t agree with you. Just because something is a tradition doesn’t mean it’s right, nor does it mean it should continue.

    - JR
  8. 8.

    Is the hardest Jays team to watch in the last decade. Errors on defense, cannot score runs, pitchers walking people. Bautista is trying to pull everything, and he is coming out of his shoes. I don’t know what this open stance is all about, but he looks way differnt than last year.

    MW: Amazingly, they haven’t had a losing record at any point this season. Weird, because it sounds like you’re describing an awful team.

    - This...
  9. 9.

    Hello Mike

    Let’s stand back here and look at the horrible call by the umpire. Why is it that MLB protect umpires so much that it seems they cannot do anything wrong.

    Don’t you think it is time for bringing appeals to the game. I have brought this up before. Let’s adopt what the NFL has in play right now. You are allowed to appeal a call, I would suggest limit the appeals to three and it can be used at any time during the game for anything. If the ump is right, then the play stands. If the team is right, then the call is overturned. This process will reduce umpires having vendettas with players.

    Having said all that, umpires need to be accountable for their performance.

    MW: They do. I don’t love the idea of a finite number of appeals, or challenges, per game. I think there should be a fifth umpire up in the press box checking on every fair/foul and safe/out call and making sure it’s right. Balls and strikes should be handled by a tennis-style “cyclops”.

    - Francis
  10. 10.

    I was upset at the rest of the Jays who appeared to say nothing after the incident .. They were staring at the floor when Lawrie returned… You all should have been screaming blue at the ump all the way off the field..

    MW: Right, so they could all get run, too.

    - Moose Mellow
  11. 11.

    Remedy for the Malady of Reality.

    The Jays are realizing that are not the team they believed they were when left Dunedin full of confidence. And they aren’t. And that’s ok. They’re still a very good team; somewhere in between what was and what is.
    IMHO it’s become psychological. Perhaps they’re faltering without they’re clubhouse leader, leading (no blame). But The batters, are ‘squeezing they’re bats too hard’; the fielders over thinking balls. We need a good injection of confidence and that includes earned faith in the bullpen.

    MW: Or they just need to start hitting a bit, and catching the ball.

    - Bird is the Word
  12. 12.

    Seems to me The Rays have inherited the Red Sox old strike zone. There is a reason Beckett stinks, Lester wont K 160, Youkilus doesnt get handed first base for doing some casual window shopping at the plate and Pedroia doesnt get served a steady diet of meatballs. Last nights events were a joke, I dont blame Lawrie for spazzing and I’d like to buy who ever threw the beer another one.

    - Chone Figgins
  13. 13.

    A lot of words can say how Brett Lawrie was wronged but I am gonna keep this to a PG-13 rating so I can try and make my point. The only thing I don’t agree with is Brett Lawrie throwing his helmet but I think everyone is on board with that point. Stephen Brunt made a great point Mike on Brady and Lang that in all the major sports Umpires have the most control over the outcome of the game and its wrong. To my point their is a CLEAR double standard in the game if players make a mistake they get fined or suspended but when an Umpire if he makes a mistake that EVERYONE knows hes wrong MLB takes a blind eye. Not all umpires are bad I mean you gotta give it to Jim Joyce for saying he was wrong for the blown call on Armando Galarraga’s “Perfect game”. Bill Miller took all that class away from them putting his personal feelings ahead of the game. Umpires should be held accountable like everyone else is held accountable on the field. Brett Lawrie will be suspended, its unfortunate but if he had not thrown his helmet he would have been just ejected. Bill Miller on the other hand NOTHING will happen to him and Brett Lawrie will be a marked man for umpires so a lot of calls for the next little while are not gonna go his way(I hope I am wrong on that point). Jim Joyce showed us that Umpires can make mistakes and own up to it and a lot of people respected him for his actions but Bill Miller threw out all that respect and it shows that one person can spoil it for the rest but in Major League Baseball life goes on with no consequence and that needs to change and I hope it does in my life time.

    MW: Don’t hold your breath.

    - Royce
  14. 14.

    His style will burn him out or he will get injured. Passion is one thing, but this is baseball and the passion should have a different tone. The second strike was outside and I guess that was the first outside pitch called a strike in the history of baseball, so he takes off and the ump is mad. The third strike was called because he took off to first a SECOND time and that is disrespectful to the ump. He may have a long career if he wakes up and understands baseball because he seems like he doesn’t with respect to diving into the stands for a foul ball with a huge lead late in the game and stealing home when his big guy is at the plate. He is immature (listen to him talk) and needs some growing up to happen. In hindsight he may eventually thank Miller for teaching the the baseball is a closed loop and what goes around comes around. Note to Brett: don’t take any close pitches now that you flipped out and whipped the helmet at the feet of the ump!

    MW: I like that you put “(listen to him talk)” in there. There’s some self-awareness lacking, but it’s not with Lawrie.

    - Laurie is not gonna last
  15. 15.

    How could you say he wasen’t trying to hit the umpire? He threw it directly in his direction albeit on a bounce.

    MW: If he was trying to hit him, he would have thrown the helmet at him, not spiked it into the ground.

    - Shmuel
  16. 16.

    I think Lawrie’s ejection is going to have further consequences beyond his own. He’s one of the few players on this team performing both offensively and defensively (though I’d like to see that power come back) and if/when he misses significant time over the next few series’, it could really put the Jays in a hole. I don’t like being over dramatic because it is still early, but its not inconceivable to see the team slip into 5th in the division in the short term, which would really put them in a deep, deep hole that they likely won’t be able to climb out of for the rest of the season (in terms of playoff contention) – at least not based on what they’ve shown so far. If so, we should all prepare to see discontent rise and crowds dwindle…. again.

    MW: There’s no reason to believe that the Blue Jays will be digging themselves a hole out of which they won’t be able to climb anytime soon. As poorly as things appear to have gone, they’re a heartbeat away from a playoff spot at the moment.

    - Kevin
  17. 17.

    Hi Mike,
    Do you know what the gesture the Miller made to Rodney before the 3-2 pitch was about? I think he patted his chest as if to say “my bad” and then pointed at Rodney? I found it disconcerting and confusing.

    MW: See above.

    - G Man
  18. 18.

    This makes me like Brett Lawrie even more. They shouldn’t suspend him, they should just fine him and use the money to hire or train some umpires who know what a strike zone is.

    - Steve
  19. 19.

    It’s one of those stories where there are no good guys. Miller and Lawrie were both in the wrong. I will say this, though. Blue Jay hitters take that quick walk to first base way too often. If I were the umpire it would infuriate me.

    - Doug D
  20. 20.

    I think there’s a big difference in the wording, and ultimately the interpretation of what Lawrie did and it will affect his suspension significantly. Some outlets (mostly in Toronto) are saying Lawrie threw his helmet at the ground and it ricocheted up and hit the umpire. Others (mostly in the States) are just saying he threw his helmet at the ump. If you threw your helmet towards the ground and it happened to bounce up and catch the ump then maximum 5 games. If you knew what you were doing and intentionally threw towards an ump, regardless of whether it hit him on the fly, then that is easily 20 games.

    I’m not sure there is too much middle ground here. Either you threw it against the ground and had no intention of it hitting the guy whatsoever or you threw it right at him hoping to hit him. If MLB takes the first interpretation than I can easily see a 3-5 game suspension. If they take the latter interpretation then watch out.

    Looking at the replays, the side angle that is contained in this post actually looks very much like he threw it straight down and it unfortunately caromed the wrong way. The head-on angle looks like he threw it directly at him. I am definitely not as dismissive as some have suggested that this will just be a small suspension. I would not be entirely shocked it this was a 20+ gamer. You simply can not throw your helmet at an ump. Those things are pretty damn solid and although its not as bad as a bat its still pretty bad.

    I really hope that this is the low point of the story but I’m afraid that it could get much worse once we find out if it is indeed a lengthy suspension.

    MW: Lawrie didn’t throw his helmet at the umpire.

    - Scott
  21. 21.

    If I were managing the Blue Jays, I would make a case out of this. Your observations about how this umpire threw the game under the bus to assuage his own ego are not only correct but clearly in the sights of everyone watching. With that unforgivable action Miller insulted the game, the league and his profession, a profession based in trust, a trust that says, “I may make mistakes but I will always give my best to the game”. Not this time. If you don’t confront this obvious and arrogant travesty then who are you? The visual evidence is there. The timing speaks volumes. “You don’t go to first base until I tell you to go to first base!” It should result in a Miller suspension, whether or not there is a Laurie suspension. The motive was clear. The league should act.
    This guy needs to be punished.

    - Bob Fleck
  22. 22.

    …hey Miguel – hope you are not unwell.
    Let’s hope tonight’s game marks the low point of the season and the Jays get on a little roll starting tonight.
    Hope Drabek forgets his last start and remembers hand cuffing the Yanks in the Spring.
    If I’m a reporter after the game, I’m asking the Ump “Are YOU worried about being suspended for YOUR performance tonight?”
    Nice throw by Davis tonight – charged it – quick release with forward momentum = nice result…..not sure if Thames can make that throw – hasn’t shown it yet – while his arm is not quite ‘Johnny Damonesque’, he doesn’t help himself with his painfully slow ritual of getting rid of the ball like he’s throwing a javelin…..
    Snider got a hit yesterday (went deep) and is 1 for 18 since returning from injury. I’m thinking he needs to string together 7 to 10 good games before he reappears on the radar as a possible option. Damn wrist injuries can turf your whole season…

    MW: Yes, they can. The thing about umpires is that they don’t have to talk to reporters after the game if they don’t want to.

    - Miguel
  23. 23.

    Mr. Miller is a complete pantload and should be sanctioned. Not only did the Blue Jays lose the game, they will likely lose their best player for a few games. Miller’s little performance could turn out to be the difference in a tight wild card race. A game that is not decided between the lines does not have integrity. Too bad that didn’t happen at Yankee Stadium or Fenway so one of MLB’s stuffed shirts would actually notice and do something about it. The worse news for Jays fans is that this crew will be here for the Yankee series too…..sigh.

    Does MLB do anything that the public does not see when there are clear transgressions by their officials Mike? Stuff like that that gores unchecked makes want to ask for my ticket money back.

    MW: Sometimes they issue fines, but they don’t publicize that.

    - Slingshot
  24. 24.

    I agree with the disgrace that is Bill Miller but I disagree with your assessment of the helmet throwing. Having listened to it on the radio before heading home and watching the replay on television, I found that what I saw and what was described by you were quite different. He spiked his helmet down directly in FRONT of the umpires feet (slightly to the side I suppose but that’s nitpicking). What would any reasonable person expect to happen? To even throw it that close to him is a VERY aggressive action don’t you thinK? Also, Brett Lawrie is an athlete who is extremely capable of precise movements. I thought from listening to the radio that he maybe threw it down about five to ten feet from Miller and it wound up hitting him. A suspension is warranted for sure. Too bad Miller won’t be reprimanded as well for his BRUTAL disregard for the game he was calling. Shameful to be sure.

    I think the Blue Jays this year are doing themselves a big disservice by their actions towards the umpires and I also feel that there is a bias (at times) towards the lone Canadian team. Doc was mercilessly squeezed for years with the Jays, not so much now that he’s in Philly.

    - Scotty B
  25. 25.

    Hi Mike…

    The thing is with Baseball umping in those situations… IT HAPPENS ALL THE TIME. You’ve seen it before, I’ve seen it so many times… where a player, not just on the Jays, starts to trot off to 1B thinking it’s ball 4 – before the ump makes the call… HAppens all the time… SOLUTION IS: Ball players have to know that situation, and try to refrain from quick-hopping down the line on potential ‘ball 4′s’

    We’ve seen it many, many, times, and THAT is a ‘part’ of baseball… NOT that it makes it correct… and i agree. i wish there were Robots… or – laser scanning strike zones.. beep! strike! ‘Boop’, Ball…

    But i know a girl who is deathly afraid of Robots, like they were Clowns.. so i wouldn’t be able to take her to a ball game… LOL

    Cheers, Mike…

    - Ed
  26. 26.

    Mike-I could not have put it better myself.You accurately described what happened and unfortunately also what likely will happen as a result.Umpires are human and they will make mistakes but this was much more than a mistake.There should be consequences but it is not likely.

    - Paul
  27. 27.

    Mike,

    Your comments are a distraction – he should be suspended and there’s NEVER an excuse to throw your equipment. The umpires are what they are, and it’s not always pretty…but by focusing on the umpire you enable childish and reckless behavior by a player who will hurt his team for (rightly) being suspended. Hopefully Lawrie is told behind closed doors to stop acting like a little leaguer throwing his equipment.

    MW: As I said in the post on which you’re commenting, Lawrie shouldn’t have thrown his helmet. But the focus should be the umpire – how can you complain about Lawrie acting like a little leaguer but give the umpire a free pass for altering the outcome of a game because his feelings were hurt? Isn’t that equally immature? And Miller is twice Lawrie’s age.

    - Gary
  28. 28.

    You are right Michael Wilner.
    Authority cannot hide poor officiating.
    As a fan of the game and of the Blue Jays and of course Mr. Brett Lawrie, this whole matter does not sit well.
    Maybe umpires and those hoping to become umpires will learn from this game.

    - Joseph P.
  29. 29.

    Mike, while I agree with your general point, the 3-2 pitch was not “clearly” high. It was a borderline strike. (though pitches at the top of the zone are rarely called strikes)

    - GregJP
  30. 30.

    Hi, Mike. I was as upset at Bill Miller as you were yesterday, and it was hard for us to see that Brett Lawrie show-boated on the 3-1 pitch, which turned a blown call into all this drama.

    MW: Lawrie most certainly did not showboat on the 3-1 pitch. He took off for first base on a pitch that was 6-8 inches outside, at best.

    - NP_TO
  31. 31.

    Mike,

    While it is understandable from the fans/players perspective that Bill Miller really blew it last night. With that said, being an umpire especially a home plate ump is certainly not easy. Making upwards of 300 plus balls/strike calls a game is not a walk in the park. Making calls on bang bang plays at first base are not easy. Us viewers at home through replays can tell whether the calls were right/wrong. But a lot of times even with replays, it sometimes is still hard to tell with 100% certainty.

    From the umpires’ perspective, it’s a lose-lose situation. You can make 99 calls right and miss one and they get beer thrown at them. Yet the other 99 correct calls they make they get little or no credit for because that’s simply doing their job.

    We all make mistakes and we are afterall only human and we sometimes do get our emotions in the way. I’m not making excuses for the umpires, but it is understandable that the umpire had a bad day.

    Even though they don’t get disciplined through suspension like Brett will be, I’m certain that all umpires’ performances throughout the year will be reviewed and that would determine whether they will umpire in the offseason or All-Star games. So Bill Miller will also be negatively affected in other ways because of this very public incident.

    It would definitely be refreshing to have the umpires sit through a media scrum after every game to discuss the blown calls and even apologize for missing the calls like Jim Joyce did when he blew Galarraga’s perfect game. But that simply will never happen, so umpires will get away with making the mistakes they normally do.

    I do have a couple of thoughts on what might improve the current system. Let me know what you think Mike!

    1. Have the strike zone tracker on the jumbo tron as part of the in game display for fans to see. If the umpire was calling the inside corner for borderline strikes all game long, at least the fans can realize that pitch is consistently being call and won’t complain as much. All fans want sometimes is consistency. Having the tracker up would also put more pressure on the umpire to make better calls because he’s exposed to his judgement every pitch.

    2. With the technology today and data collection, we should be able to determine who the consistently accurate home plate umpires are. Why not have them behind the plate at all times rather than rotating through the crew. In doing so, we will have 15 great home plate umpires rather than 60 different ones. Home plate umpires hold such an enormous power in deciding games, is it not a good idea to only have 15 of the best so players are familiar with their strike/ball calling zones and take away a little of the guessing game? There’s a reason why we always see Ed Hochuli and Mike Carey in the superbowls and conference finals in the NFL, it’s because they are the best and are respected by the players and are consistent with their calls which in my opinion is lacking in the MLB.

    It’s unfortunate this happened, but Lawrie will learn from this and grow because of it.

    So let’s just move on and stay focus on the task on hand and that’s to continue to do our thing and don’t leave it up to the umpires to decide our own fate!

    MW: I like your second idea, but the first one will never happen – heck, they don’t even show replays at big-league games out of fear of inciting the crowd against the umpires. As far as your starting point about how difficult it is to call balls and strikes and how mistakes can be made, there’s no question about that. But no one was upset because Bill Miller made a mistake – it’s because he appeared to intentionally make a bad call in order to settle a score, and that’s a major, major problem.

    - Antony
  32. 32.

    Umpires make mistakes, they’re human, although this mistake appeared to be intentional. Bill Miller seemed upset that Lawrie ran towards 1st base after an incorrect strike call, this upset Miller and the next pitch was going to be called a strike even if it was in the dirt or over Lawrie’s head, that is where Miller made the mistake and if you think about it he instigated this whole event and should receive equal suspension as Lawrie. This game was mainly lost to poor defense on the Blue Jays part, but they could have won, despite their poor play if not for Miller’s errors too.

    - Mark
  33. 33.

    The other night when Edwin Encarnacion went into the seats to retire a batter on a foul ball, I was surprised he could go completely into the seats without the play being called out of bounds. What is the limit for a play like this? Is there a limit? If he hops the low wall by first base and runs up the aisle 5 rows to make the catch, is THAT legal? I know you will know Mike… Thanks!

    MW: No, that’s not legal. I’m pretty sure you can’t have both feet outside the field of play and still make a legal play.

    - Jason
  34. 34.

    What’s really frustrating is the umpire intentionally knew that Lawrie or for that matter any player would ‘flip’ out after getting two calls like that for an out in a tension filled game.
    I know we won’t hear anything but I’m quite certain that Miller will be subjected to similar punishment for inciting the situation with his self interested actions.

    MW: I’m certain he’ll be applauded by his peers.

    - gary
  35. 35.

    Hey Mike
    Though the behaviour of Miller does quite annoy me, I still find comfort in saying that heck, he’s better than Bob Davidson. At least he didn’t blow a call in the World Series. And to be quite honest that botched interference call in Anaheim annoyed me far more than this call. I guess we due for at least one stupid call a year from the staff in blue.

    - Jamie C.
  36. 36.

    Hi, Mike:

    Re: whether or not the umpire would be disciplined, Jeff Blair had an interesting interview with former ML Supervisor of Umpires Jim McKean yesterday, and he stated that he believed Miller WOULD be disciplined by MLB, but that the results would not be made public. Which of course raises the question in everyone’s mind as to whether or not it actually happens. McKean also stated that Miller’s report on the incident would of necessity include his own admission/opinion as to whether or not he “got the call(s) right”. Which, if it did, could have been a mitigating factor in the length of the suspension. A very interesting interview, I thought — good on Blair!

    MW: Blair is definitely a good one!

    - Norm
  37. 37.

    Re: Post #32 “Umpires make mistakes…though this mistake appeared to be intentional”. Sorry, Mark, but you can’t have it both ways — either it was a “mistake”, or it was “intentional” — by definition, it can’t be both!

    - Norm
  38. 38.

    Miller needs to be accountable as well. His performance should be reviewed and he should be suspended for a few games too. Then perhaps future situations caused by umpire incompetence will be lessened. Lawire has fire and is a leader.

    - CM
  39. 39.

    Hi, Mike. On my comment, I was referring to the fact that, after the blown 3-1 call by the umpire, Brett seemed to stare down the ump and very deliberately made his way back to the batter’s box. That’s what I meant by showboating. I don’t condone how Bill Miller reacted to this – just thought that a balanced view would show that Brett was not completely innocent in this.

    BTW, loved hearing you do the play-by-play during the West Coast swing. Keep it up!

    MW: Thank you! I didn’t see that as showboating, but then I don’t have that TV angle to see what Lawrie was looking at on his way back to the plate.

    - NP_TO
  40. 40.

    Mike,
    Laurie threw the helmet that hit Miller .

    His lack of respect could hurt the Jays.
    Bad calls are part of the game forever,

    Battista is famous for complaining to umps too.

    I don’t think it gets you any breaks on close calls .

    Farrell should tell his players you can play or ump, but you can’t do both .

    - Vern
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