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Mike Rizzo is in trouble for going after an ump

May 20, 2011, 8:46 AM EDT

Nationals Rizzo Baseball

This play, in the ninth inning of yesterday’s Nationals-Mets game, is a blown call.  The throw from Justin Turner clearly pulled Daniel Murphy off the bag and Jayson Werth should have been safe at first. Given that it was a 1-0 game, that was pretty important. Given that the call was so obviously blown, you can understand why Jim Riggleman, Werth and everyone in a gray uniform was a bit miffed with umpire Phil Cuzzi.

But at some point you’re supposed to stop arguing with the ump. And in no event are general managers supposed to seek out the umpire after the game is over and continue to berate him.  Unfortunately, no one gave Mike Rizzo that memo, because he allegedly did that after the game, and the umpires have apparently sent a report to Joe Torre about it.

Cuzzi is no stranger to botched plays, of course. He famously blew that fair/foul call in the 2009 ALDS, depriving Joe Mauer of  hit.  Last year he blew a call that cost the Giants a game — and gave it to the Mets — ruling that Travis Ishikawa slid under Henry Blanco‘s tag at the plate when even Blanco said Ishikawa was clearly safe.

But the guy in the suit berating the ump is not the way to handle that kind of thing, and no doubt Rizzo’s wallet is going to be lighter as a result.

  1. atworkident - May 20, 2011 at 9:02 AM

    It’s a shame he gets fined for being right. At what point do the umpires become responsible for their bad calls? The umpire that did the Yankees game on Wednesday was calling strikes on balls that ran over the chalklines. To be fair he was bad on both sides but you can’t expand the strike zone 6 inches either way.

    Pudge, Riggleman didn’t help the situation they will probably join Rizzo in donating to the MLB. Does anyone know where that money goes? Is there a preferred charity?

    • Old Gator - May 20, 2011 at 11:29 AM

      Let’s face it – until the players union instruct their players to walk off the field when an asshole like Joe West goes looking for a fight (with the tacit understanding that the players on the other team will refuse to play a game themselves to even up the default some day), no one upstairs at MLB is going to do doodly squat about the Joe Wests and other incompetent umpires out there. They’ll need to have a crisis forced down their throats first. And I think the chances of that happening are about the same as, say, popular uprisings sweeping the Arab world.

  2. danberman4 - May 20, 2011 at 9:10 AM

    Rizzo was right about the call, but you can’t act like that. MLB needs to get control of the umps. Too many really seem to think they are god on the ball field. There needs to be more accountability.

    http://pinetarandbrickbats.blogspot.com/2011/05/silent-umpire.html

    • kellyb9 - May 20, 2011 at 9:39 AM

      I’ve been very critical of umps in the past, but thats because I think a fair number of them like to grandstand way too much. Missing a call is something thats going to happen from time to time. I’m sure Riggleman got his say on the field, there’s no reason at all for a GM to confront an umpire. It’s just plain wrong.

  3. The Rabbit - May 20, 2011 at 9:11 AM

    Good for Mike Rizzo!
    Apparently, there isn’t anything MLB doing publically about the quality of officiating. Joe Torre has acted more like a mouthpiece of union than an overseer of umpiring.
    The only option remaining is to voice your objections and hope that enough owners take note and become willing to take some kind of action.

  4. RedHeadedBastard - May 20, 2011 at 10:05 AM

    I am an avid Nationals fan and i agree with Rizzo, there was a blown call. But as mad as i am about the blown call, if the Nationals would learn to hit during the course of the game this wouldn’t be much of an issue. The umpires do need to be held responsible for blown calls and stop being on a power trip every damn game.

    • natstowngreg - May 20, 2011 at 1:14 PM

      hear hear.

      I like Rizzo, and think he has the team headed in the right direction. I also agree with much of the criticism of incompetent umpires. But Rizzo crossed the line.

  5. bradwins - May 20, 2011 at 10:54 AM

    Craig, I’m usually with you on this type of thing, but here I disagree somewhat. As a fan, I’m tired of leagues shielding their umpires/referees/officials (hereinafter “umpires”) from criticism and scorn. In my opinion, players, managers, coaches, executives and announcers should have complete freedom to criticize umpires and to demand explanations for blown calls.

    In addition, I believe that umpires should be fined and/or suspended for missing calls. Umpires are professionals (at least insofar as they are paid for their services), so they should be held accountable, just like everyone else. If they can’t handle the criticism and/or confrontation, they should either perform their job better or find a new line of work.

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