Toronto Blue Jays slugger Jose Bautista has been relatively quiet in regards to umpires and calls thus far this season, but he will be silent no more. After the Blue Jays lost a controversial replay challenge in Saturday’s game with the Oakland Athletics, Bautista blew up about the replay system following the game.
The call in question came during the top of the 8th inning, with the Blue Jays trailing 3-1 and Melky Cabrera on first base. Bautista sent a liner into the left fielder corner. Cabrera got on his horse and despite seeing Yoenis Cespedes in come up with the ball as he was rounding third, attempted to score on the play. The relay from Jed Lowrie got to the plate at roughly the same time as Cabrera, but catcher Derek Norris appeared to miss Cabrera’s back with the swipe tag. However, home plate umpire called him out, prompting Carbera to signal Gibbons to appeal.
Here’s the video. You can make the call for yourselves, but as you can see from the angle up the third base line, Norris never makes contact with Cabrera on the tag.
New York upheld the call on the field, proclaiming the evidence inconclusive to overturn. That beauty of a call prompted Bautista to explode to the media after the game.
“He missed him by a good foot or two. I don’t really know which replay they were looking at but clearly they must have had a different video feed than the one we had. It’s pretty frustrating for you to battle as a team, keep the game close, for our pitchers to be doing what they’re doing, for us to keep grinding through games, and facing some touch pitching, and somehow be able to get an opportunity to tie the game in the eighth inning, it all goes down the drain because somebody first, initially, made a bad call to begin with. And then it gets upheld by god knows who, in some room in New York supposedly.” – (h/t Gregor Chisholm)
But Jose Bautista couldn’t just let it lie there. Once the flood gates opened up he railed on further, which will likely prompt a fine from the office of Major League Baseball.
“This whole replay thing has become a joke in my eyes. I think they should just ban it, they should just get rid of it, I don’t really understand the purpose of it, but getting the right call on the field is not the purpose. That’s pretty obvious and evident. I don’t know what kind of agenda the people that are doing the replays are on, what their plan is, what their purpose is, who they’re looking after. But obviously getting the right call on the field is not what they’re doing.” – (h/t Shi Davidi, Sportsnet)
The Blue Jays have a pretty good case to make in regards to feeling the replay system is slighting them. According to John Gibbons‘ managerial page at Baseball-Reference.com, which keeps track of all challenges issued, the Blue Jays manager has won just 8 of his 28 challenges to date, or 28.5%. That despite taking the time to have his staff review the calls before issuing most challenges.
Shi Davidi at Sportsnet goes on to note that the Jays were unlucky in a series of calls in Milwaukee, prompting Bautista to note that the Jays were also victimized in the Baltimore series earlier this month. The call in Baltimore that Bautista eludes to is likely this one, where the right fielder visibly avoids the tag at home plate, but the umpire, who was shielded by the catcher, called him out. After going to replay, the call was upheld and the Jays lost the challenge on that call as well.
There is no doubt that Jose Bautista will be hearing from the Commissioner’s office and at some point will have to write out a sizable check. However, by raising his voice here, he may at least draw some awareness to a system, may not be corrupted or riddled with conspiracy, but is still obviously far from perfect and perhaps a little unfair to some teams.