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Joe Maddon gets steamed, gets ejected

Jun 2, 2010, 8:20 AM EDT

Maddon Hernandez Pena arguing.jpgIn hindsight, the biggest shocker of the whole ninth inning exchange between Carlos Pena, Joe Maddon and home plate umpire Angel Hernandez in last night’s Rays-Jays game was that Kevin Gregg threw a strike. But we’ll cover Gregg’s nightmare night later this morning.  For now, let’s talk about the rhubarb.

In case you missed it, Carlos Pena had a 2-2 count on him and called for time just as Gregg was going into his windup.* Hernandez didn’t grant it, Gregg pitched, and Pena — out of his stance and bat at his side — half-heartedly offered at what came in for strike three. The whole sequence can be seen here.

*Note: the MLB.com video starts a couple of seconds too late to tell for sure, but it’s not at all clear that Pena was calling for time before Gregg actually went into motion. He certainly had his hand up as Gregg was winding up, but we can’t tell if he had been calling time before that. If anyone out there was watching the game live and can weigh in on this, please do so in the comments.

Joe Maddon was clearly perturbed that Hernandez chose that moment — one out in the
ninth inning as the Rays are mounting a rally — to enforce baseball’s
new get-tough policy on speeding up the game. He gave Hernandez an earful over it and then walked down the line to give crew chief Joe West an earful as well, telling him “This is your [bleeping] fault!” no doubt referring to West’s crusade to speed up games via any and all methods short of calling a reasonable strike zone.

I understand Maddon’s frustration.  I think umps should be more stingy about allowing timeouts — and if Pena really wasn’t calling for it before Gregg was in his windup, forget it — but the ninth inning of a tense game is not the time to start denying guys time.  Consistency is key, and based on what all the parties to the dustup were saying after the game, Hernandez’s time-out policy was not consistent.

Just another item on the agenda for baseball’s umpire czar Mike Port, I suppose.  Between West’s and Bob Davidson’s antics last week, Bill Hohn’s on Monday and this business last week, Port has been a pretty busy guy lately.

  1. Chris Fiorentino - Jun 2, 2010 at 8:59 AM

    These umpires need to sit their fat asses behind the plate and do their jobs, which is to call a CONSISTENT and FAIR game. More of them do this, but there are a few (West, Hernandez to name a couple) who consider themselves bigger than the game and they need to be removed from the game. I mean..really…is Joe West THAT important to baseball? Angel Hernandez? Can’t we find some minor league guys better than these two clowns who suck the life out of games they umpire.

  2. EShine - Jun 2, 2010 at 9:28 AM

    I was watching the game. The call was close. What they didn’t show was the Pena had called time late a pitch or two before. As an unbiased observer he looked like he was trying to get Gregg out of his rhythm. I know its part of the game, but you can’t keep calling time, especially late.
    Not to defend Hernandez, but he made the right call on the Gregg situation – that ball was way outside – and he tried to avoid any confrontation with Gregg before before/after he was tossed.
    While I think there are arguments why Hernandez’s call was right/wrong, as someone who watch the game, I dont think he was looking for the spotlight like his crew chief.

  3. Joey B - Jun 2, 2010 at 9:37 AM

    Of course, Maddon’s latest 9th inning tirade effectively froze Gregg on the mound, and Gregg walks the next two batters.

  4. Pul Martin - Jun 2, 2010 at 11:09 AM

    Pena tried that stunt twice in the same at bat. He waited too late before he called time out both times. He got away with it once, but trying it twice was going too far.
    As far as Gregg was concerned, he was frustrated that several very close pitches were being called balls. Unfortunately for him, the ump had a very small strike zone all night.

  5. TJ - Jun 2, 2010 at 11:21 AM

    Pena called for the time in question semi late but it would normally of been granted. However, as stated by EShine above me, he did the exact same thing a few pitches before. Good for Hernandez for not giving it to him, in a world where there are many comaplaints for long game times, this was unneeded. It wasn’t like Gregg was taking exceptionally long, so maybe Pena just had his jock on too tight? Either way Pena was wrong in assuming he would be granted time, and he looked horrible for it. Good for Maddon defending his guy but realistically I can’t imagine anyone being outraged over this beyond the fact that you need to protect your guy being a bonehead and you lost a power hitter when you’re down in the 9th. Luckily for Tampa, Gregg is exceptionally bad and it ultimately did not matter.

  6. TJ - Jun 2, 2010 at 11:37 AM

    Also of note, Maddon, after being booted, ran to Joe West and mouthed “This is all your fault” repeatedly, to which the whale looked as confused as he possibly could be, responded repeatedly “how is it my fault?” Maybe that fine put West in check, at least for now, because Maddon was blowing up, dropping numerous F-bombs on Hernandex and West

  7. JBerardi - Jun 2, 2010 at 12:20 PM

    I’ve been highly critical of some of these recent umpiring incidents, but I honestly don’t have a problem with this. The umpire is under no obligation to give time, period. Pena was late in calling for time, even if Greg hadn’t quite started his motion yet (pretty sure he had). Even Pena seemed to understand this. Maddon was out of line on this one.

  8. Kevin - Jun 2, 2010 at 12:35 PM

    “no doubt referring to West’s crusade to speed up games via any and all methods short of calling a reasonable strike zone.”
    HIYO!

  9. Dewel - Jun 2, 2010 at 12:40 PM

    I agree with TJ that the time request in question was late, as was the one Pena called for a couple of pitches prior. Gregg wasn’t taking an insane amount of time (ie: Papelbon), Pena just rather seemed uncomfortable. Hernandez did call a pretty awful game behind the plate, but Maddon’s tirade worked. After the ejection the strike zone did seem to shrink to a relatively normal zone.
    Given the Ump antics recently though, I’d like to acknowledge Hernandez’s patience even while ejecting Maddon. It was clear he was not combative and simply ejected Maddon after he crossed the line.

  10. TJ - Jun 2, 2010 at 12:49 PM

    I’m…..an idiot. I guess my brain just shut off for that paragraph. My cheeks are red.

  11. Dewel - Jun 2, 2010 at 1:28 PM

    I agree with TJ that the time request in question was late, as was the one Pena called for a couple of pitches prior. Gregg wasn’t taking an insane amount of time (ie: Papelbon), Pena just rather seemed uncomfortable. Hernandez did call a pretty awful game behind the plate, but Maddon’s tirade worked. After the ejection the strike zone did seem to shrink to a relatively normal zone.
    Given the Ump antics recently though, I’d like to acknowledge Hernandez’s patience even while ejecting Maddon. It was clear he was not combative and simply ejected Maddon after he crossed the line.

  12. jeff - Jun 2, 2010 at 2:22 PM

    I was watching it live and one thing no one has mentioned is Gregg’s tendency to quick pitch
    he did it all the time as a marlin
    i think what may have happened here is that there really was no “wind-up” and pena tried to call time and Gregg seeing this tried to sneak in his quick pitch.

  13. TJ - Jun 2, 2010 at 3:21 PM

    Why NOT “quick pitch” he clearly saw the ump wasn’t giving the time, and Buck also recognized it and had his glove shaking to get the pitch in, it’s not like they broke the rules really, just used it to their advantage. Good for them on being heads up.

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