Wednesday, May 16, 2012
The Blue Jays and the Boys in Blue
You expect to see the odd head shake after a call, or a long stare from a pitcher. Maybe even a convulsive, full body interjection that indicates the player's displeasure. Those things happen in the run of a game, but even to our partial eyes, the Jays were indulging in this beyond the point of good taste. We came upon an illustration of the topic after Brandon Morrow allowed a run to score while in the midst of a hissy fit over a close play at first on Tuesday, though the topic still seemed a little vague as we worked on it.
And then came last night's ninth inning.
There's a lot of blame to go around in the aftermath of that sequence of events. Brett Lawrie twice attempted to make up the umpire's mind for him by running up the baseline before the pitch was called either way. Umpire Bill Miller made at least one and maybe two bad calls in a row, and made them with so much gusto that it is hard to imagine that he was doing anything other than admonishing the player for showing him up. And Lawrie returned the favour with an all-out freak-out that is certainly a suspendable offense, and isn't worthy of your attempts to minimize or explain it away.
(Seriously, if you are pondering what the outcome of the evening is if Lawrie's helmet had landed in just the right way so as to not hit Miller, you're missing the fact that he threw his lid at the umpire's feet with the intent of sending a message. If you head down that road, you can't be shocked when that's where you end up.)
But let's move from micro to macro: Last night's incident was the most egregious in a season-long campaign of the Blue Jays being overly demonstrative over too many calls, and it's time for it to stop. There has to be a more significant level of maturity on this team, and the patience to accept the fact that, all things being equal, the good calls and the bad calls will likely even out over the year.
Moreover, there needs to be a recognition that the constant complaining probably does more to harm their cause in the long run, especially when they take umbrage at perfectly legitimate calls. We're looking in your direction, Jose Bautista.
There's nothing wrong with playing the game with emotion, but we're not sure what the players hope to accomplish by embarrassing the umpires on a regular basis. There are ways of dealing with them that are more mature and more convincing than the petulant, spastic displays made nearly every game. Didn't we used to respect the players who pleaded their cases with dignity? Wasn't there at one point a level of respect for the guys who weren't pleading their case in a manner that conveyed their point to those at the top of the 500 level, or maybe in the neighbouring condos?
We don't want to overstate our desire for John Farrell to become a disciplinarian, but the manager probably needs to convey to his team that the current state of affairs is not tenable, and that they need to chill out and suck it up. Regardless of when and how the league deals with Brett Lawrie, Farrell would be wise at this point to park him on the bench for a came to cast a chill on all of the hot-headedness. It was out of hand before last night, and it's become a real problem.