This week has been all about Mark Reynolds. Finally getting out of his season-long slump, making some sparkling plays at first base, and on Friday night, throwing his glove, getting ejected from the game and publicly criticizing the umpires.Most players and managers limit their public criticism of umpires, fearing fines and retribution.Reynolds wasnt afraid.After Friday nights game, Reynolds took aim at the umpiring crew. In the fifth inning, he was ejected for complaining about an overturned call at first base.Originally, Detroits Jhonny Peralta was called out at first base by Jeff Kellogg. After Tigers manager Jim Leyland complained, home plate umpire Tim Timmons overturned the call and said Peralta was safe. The Orioles, already steamed because they felt Timmons blew a call on Nick Markakis at home plate in the first were incensed.
Reynolds was ejected by second base umpire Vic Carapazza for throwing his first basemans mitt and manager Buck Showalter followed him.Interestingly, Leyland, perhaps baseballs most aggressive umpire baiter was able to make a convincing case, and Showalter, who gets ejected much more rarely, couldnt.Showalter kept his postgame comments on the umpiring relatively terse, as he usually does. He said he was shocked at the overturned call and that Markakis was blatantly safe.Reynolds didnt feel constrained.Its a shame they dont have accountability, Reynolds told reporters in Detroit.They dont have any. If they make a bad call, its like: Ho-hum, next day is coming. If we have a bad couple of games we get benched or we get sent down. They have nobody breathing down their throats.He wasnt finished.They have nobody. They are just secure in their jobs. And they are probably over there laughing about it because they dont worry about it.Reynolds summed it up: Its almost like Screw the Orioles by the umpires, he concluded.Theres got to be some kind of replay for this. Its to the point where all these calls that get missed, cost people runs, cost people outsI cant say how I really feel, but its pretty obvious.Reynolds sometimes seems as if hes a laid back Westerner. Hes actually from Virginia Beach, and as evidenced Friday night, very honest. Last September when the Angels Ervin Santana hit him in the head with a pitch, Reynolds accused him of headhunting. On Thursday when Adam Jones was hit by Clay Buchholz, Jones wouldnt comment on the pitchs purpose.Reynolds also accused the umpires of blatantly blowing a call on Jones on Wednesday night in a game the Orioles won.Major League Baseball has been extraordinarily slow to adopt replay. For several seasons, theyve had replay on home run calls. Despite protestations from purists, the home run replay system works efficiently.Commissioner Bud Selig said at the All-Star Game he hears few calls for expanded replay, but MLB is reportedly plan to test replay systems for fairfoul calls and perhaps catchtrap plays. Replay for safeout plays is probably several years away.Baseball has been the most conservative sport at adopting replay. Some, like Selig, say they like the human factor.There shouldnt be a human factor. Its known that different umpires have varying strike zones, and thats something that baseball has tried to address. Games shouldnt be decided on questionable umpires calls.The umpires arent out to get the Orioles-or any other team. In the same game that Jones was called out at first, costing the Orioles a run, Bostons Adrian Gonzalez and manager Bobby Valentine were ejected for insisting that Pedro Strop quickpitched.
Umpiring is probably no worse than it was 10 or 20 years ago. Technology is so much better today that bad calls arent unnoticed.Last year, during a visit from an umpiring supervisor at spring training, former Orioles pitcher Jeremy Guthrie asked when was the last time an umpire was fired.The answer didnt satisfy Guthrie. Its been many years since an umpire has been fired for incompetence, and even though umpires are fined and sometimes suspended for incorrect calls, that discipline isnt made public. Reynolds will be fined for equipment abuse and for his ejection. It will be interesting to see if he will be disciplined for public criticism of the umpires. In the NFL or NBA, hefty fines would accompany remarks like Reynolds.Umpires endure a difficult road in getting to the major leagues, but once there, they seem entrenched. In order to improve umpiring quality, one manager has suggested teams pool funds and send a veteran player at the end of his career for umpire training. It wouldnt take long for them to catch on, its suggested. That would improve the quality of umpiring.It wont make Mark Reynolds feel any better.