Blue Jays: Umpire was right, until he threw out Martin
The Blue Jays have had quite the game on Thursday afternoon, as Marcus Stoman and the ball club have battled questionable umpiring on their way to an early ejection for him, Russell Martin, and John Gibbons, all within the same half inning.
As a MLB umpire, you have your good days and your bad days, but Thursday was an embarassment for Will Little , who was behind the plate for the game between the Blue Jays and A’s. Little had a pretty inconsistent zone on the day, much to the frustration of Marcus Stroman, Russell Martin, and manager, John Gibbons. That happens, as umpires are human and can’t be perfect all of the time.
Because of that, the strike zone is always going to be a disputable thing, even with the pitch tracker on our television screens these days. That was the case in Thursday’s game, as both the A’s and Blue Jays showed frustration with Little’s inconsistency in the early going.
In the top of the 5th, Gibbons’ frustration came to a head, and he was ejected after getting his two cents in with the plate umpire about his displeasure with the zone. Gibbons is no stranger to ejections, as he leads the American League in times getting tossed from a game.
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Just a few minutes later, the Blue Jays lost their battery on the same pitch, which is the moment that Little lost his composure, and should lead to having his performance reviewed. On a borderline pitch once again, ball four was called, much to the frustration of Stroman who let out a yelp and was tossed from the game for his outward display of anger. You can’t show up the umpire to be sure, and after Gibbons’ ejection I’m sure Little was on high alert himself.
Where he completely erred though was in tossing Martin, who turned around and said something, only to be ejected from the game immediately. Maybe Martin said the wrong thing, but to toss both the pitcher and the catcher within three seconds of each other is a bad look. For his sake, I hope Martin turned around and directly insulted him, otherwise there’s very little excuse for losing patience as the official in the game.
Ejections are meant to protect the umpire from taking abuse in the game, and it’s a tool I believe that they should use for just that reason. They have a second function though, and that is to restore order to a game that is spiralling out of control. As a former umpire myself, I actually don’t blame Little for giving Stroman the “heave ho” as well, especially after his throwing out his manager didn’t silence the charismatic pitcher.
However, throwing Martin out of the game as well was a mistake, and Little needs to practice more patience in that situation. One of the older gentlemen I used to umpire with used to say, “you know we’ve done a good job when nobody notices us out there”. That obviously wasn’t the case on Thursday afternoon, as plenty of Jays’ fans learned the name of Will Little for the first time. Make of that what you will.