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Bob Davidson is a disgrace

Aug 4, 2011, 9:35 AM EDT

Bob Davidson, Mike Quade

Bob Davidson has been among the worst umpires on the merits and one of the worst umpires in terms of temperament for years now, and he showed exactly why last night in the Cubs-Pirates game.

Tyler Colvin was called out on strikes by Davidson to end the fifth inning. It was a bad call, but that’s beside the point. Colvin reacted, but he didn’t look at Davidson or walk towards him or anything. His reaction, while sure, likely largely influenced by anger at the call, could have just as easily been construed as anger at himself. Importantly, he didn’t linger at home plate. He turned around and headed back to the dugout.

Except Davidson followed him. Obnoxiously trying to pick a fight. When he didn’t get the fight he obviously wanted, he ejected Colvin.

Then Mike Quade came out and argued the ejection. He wasn’t arguing the called strike.  He wasn’t animated. He wasn’t being obnoxious. Watching the video it is clear that he was only trying to protect his player and make a calm case.  Davidson, after hearing it for a while turned his back on Quade, shrugged his shoulders dismissively and then ejected Quade.

Umpires should be in the business of giving players the benefit of the doubt in such situations. Let them be angry, but unless they are clearly out of line, let them be.  Same with managers.  If Davidson had simply stood his ground and let Colvin walk back to the dugout, none of that would have happened and the game would have gone on.  Except Davidson has the thinnest skin and the worst disposition and temperament of any umpire in baseball and his ego couldn’t let it go.

He should not have his job. There are dozens who could do it better on the merits and scores who could do it with greater professionalism.  He’s a disgrace to good umpires everywhere and a disgrace to Major League Baseball. His continued employment makes a mockery of baseball’s oversight of officiating.

  1. sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Aug 4, 2011 at 11:57 AM

    Why should he change? He has no incentive to do so, or fear of repercussion if he does not. His schtick has been working for him for decades. Really, we can hate on him all we want, but he is who he is. This is squarely on MLB.

    If they need some recommendations I know some great umps in my softball league who wouldn’t mind picking up a few extra games if the price is right.

    • nudeman - Aug 4, 2011 at 12:29 PM

      When did it become mandatory that umpires make “out” calls at first base and “strike 3” calls with that “punch out” move? Do they think they’re bullfighters?

      Why not give them a red cape and sword?

      “LOOK AT ME!!

      They should all be fired. Today.

    • skerney - Aug 4, 2011 at 3:19 PM

      I worked as an umpires attendant for a while. This is my impression of them after working with them on an everyday basis: They get their own locker room. They get equipment and a uniform. They get a pro deim. They get a number. They get their name announced on the PA. They get shown on TV. Their actions get applauded or condemned by the crowd. What they do affects the game. They share all these commonalities with ballplayers and as a consequence believe that they are part of the competition, part of the show. Ego is a huge part of being an umpire. I’ve seen it. They are NOT part of the competition. They are the authority who is supposed to keep the game under control. When they think that the eyes should be on them and let their ego get in the way, that is an enormous problem.

      • royalsfaninfargo - Aug 4, 2011 at 3:53 PM

        Well said skerney.

      • spudchukar - Aug 4, 2011 at 8:25 PM

        I believe you have identified the defining problem. Kudos.

  2. kingjoe1 - Aug 4, 2011 at 12:57 PM

    I contest that Angel Hernandez is worse. However we can all agree the Angel, Bob D and Joe West are by far the 3 worst umps in MLB. These three single-handedly have given all the umps a bad name. They need to be fired.

  3. wilcorox - Aug 4, 2011 at 1:01 PM


    This article is embarrassing. Simply because a player is walking away doesn’t give him the right to say whatever he wants. For example, personal comments ( example: you’re a fxxking moron) are a no brainier ejection. We don’t know what Colvin said but simply him walking away doesn’t make it OK.

    Furthermore, your assertion that “umpire’s should be in the business of giving the benefit of the doubt” is laughable. How about players learning to control their emotions? If something bad happens at your job and you fly off the handle and insult a coworker I’m guessing you aren’t getting the benefit of the doubt. These are grown men and they should take responsibility for their actions.

    All of that said, it is entirely possible that Colvin didn’t personally insult Davidson and Davidson overreacted, but my point is that your article is riddled with assumptions and poorly drawn conclusions about what happened. How do we know how thin Davidson’s skin is without knowing what was said? And how much is too much for you, Craig? What if used a slur in his comment? Would that warrant an ejection?

    • cur68 - Aug 4, 2011 at 1:12 PM

      You can’t possibly be slagging at Craig in support of Davidson, can you? This is BOB DAVIDSON, man! An ump so sodding awful it’s a given that Colvin needn’t have said much of anything nor Quade. That d-bag is so notoriously thin skinned a tree stump could get under it. We go on the reputation of the people involved and, based on his history, his awfulness at calling games and his propensity for ejecting players, OF COURSE it’s Big Bad Bob at fault. Simple logic.

      Clearly you are blinded by Craig’s support of pie. I understand. I too blame him for things in relation to pie.

    • Mr. Jason "El Bravo" Heyward - Aug 4, 2011 at 1:29 PM

      I agree in that if Colvin said something terrible and the ump heard it, we’d have a different story. I don’t believe that happened for one second though. It is well established, perhaps not in this post, that Davidson is a terrible ump.

    • nudeman - Aug 4, 2011 at 1:48 PM

      wilcorox, I heartily disagree.

      Davidson’s is notorious. There are two relevant simple unwritten rules among unpires and referees of all sports.

      – Don’t initiate confrontation
      – Don’t become the story

      Davidson made a lousy 3rd strike call, then followed after Colvin, who per the story didn’t make any sort of a scene; didn’t even LOOK at Davidson. Just took his medicine and walked away. Guys like Davidson, Cowboy Joe West, and Joey Crawford (NBA) all have reps as being lousy game umps/officials and overly confrontational.

  4. ditto65 - Aug 4, 2011 at 1:50 PM

    MLB empowers these jerk faces every time Joe Torre (and his predecessors) mention human element as part of the charm and character of the game. Human element can still be a part of baseball while problems are addressed and corrected.

    The removal of bad umpires could be the first – and probably easiest – step in that direction.
    Create phony off the field postitions for the jerk faces.
    Retire them with full benefits (a small cost for such a large problem).
    Fire them for poor performance and fight them in the courts when the object.
    Replace them with better umpires when they go on strike.

    MLB has lawyers. Use them.

  5. nudeman - Aug 4, 2011 at 1:59 PM

    Bob Brenly, 15 year MLBer, former WS winning manager, now Cubs broadcaster on the Bob Davidson incident last night:

    “I guarantee you, every game Bob Davidson works behind the plate, if you keep track the rest of the year, he will find a way to inject himself into that ballgame and become the center of attention — tonight, no exception”


  6. willcoop - Aug 4, 2011 at 2:10 PM

    Nudeman, you are absolutely correct. I officiate college basketball and the rule of thumb amongst all officials and umpires, is, let the players devoid the game, and nobody is there to see you officiate. Now that being said, I have been at symposiums with all officials and we remember Bob Davidson being a jerk to everyone. His personality is that of 40 grit sand paper. The late Ron Luciano used to have this habit of showing up the players with his crazy antics, but for the most part he was a good ball/strike ump and managed to keep the game under control. Davidson can’t control his own bowels let alone control a game. He not only brings shame to the game of baseball, but to all umpires and officials in all sports. You a certain few in each sport that seem to think they are bigger than the game. Guys like Davidson, West, Joe Crawford of the NBA are old school guys that had fathers that taught them the game.

  7. 1943mrmojorsin1971 - Aug 4, 2011 at 2:23 PM

    When Quade goes out to talk, Davidson gives him a look like it’s Quade who is being ridiculous and wasting Davidson’s time. This guy is painful to watch call games and even worse to watch when he’s in a confrontation (something that’s usually entertaining but not when Davidson’s involved). Most employees who routinely show no ability to do their job get fired but unfortunately MLB doesn’t want to look at things the way any normal people would

  8. brewdogg - Aug 4, 2011 at 3:02 PM

    There is a solution….. Each team carries a “reserve umpire” on the team payroll. Each manager has the right, once per game, to eject an umpire, at which point the other team’s umpire takes over his duties. Imagine that…. An home plate umpire is so bad that a manager is willing to take one in the opposing team’s payroll instead. The reserve umpire would then receive the prorated portion of the ejected umpire’s pay, on top of his standing salary with his team, making each umpires paycheck dependent on their ability to call games fairly and keep everyone happy.

    • nudeman - Aug 4, 2011 at 9:28 PM

      I like it.
      Preposterous in every meaningful way; and totally illogical and inenforceable.
      But I like it.

  9. mgflolox - Aug 4, 2011 at 3:31 PM

    I’ll say it again, even though there is never any chance of it happening. Umps should be evaluated and promoted using the same standard as players. MLB & MiLB have plenty of tools at their disposal to evaluate umpires. Start them out in the low minors and pay them a living wage. Promote the best ones up the ladder and demote or release the worst ones. Then they’ll have to work just as hard as the players and managers do to keep their jobs. I think that would also create greater mutual respect on the field.

  10. browngoat25 - Aug 4, 2011 at 4:33 PM

    Does anyone have knowledge of how umpires are selected now for the post season? It’s established that the worst umpires are West, Bucknor, Hernandez and Davidson, but havent these guys worked the post season recently? I understand that they are senior umpires and have union protection, but why would MLB allow these guys anywhere near the post season? What work rules allow them to have the privilege of working the post season?
    As far as umpires in general, I dont have a problem with a guy missing a call – sh!t happens when people are involved. Mistakes happen. But umpires that have thin skins, or umpires with personal strike zones (Eric Gregg and Livan Hernandez always come to mind – sorry, Craig!), umpires that are regularly out of position and umpires that refuse to ask for help (even though another ump may have a better view) are the ones that drive me nuts. Making a mistake is one thing; being consistently bad at your job is another.
    And I cant believe that the umpires union is protecting these guys. I may be wrong, but MLB has to have some sort of assessment system, and if MLB/Selig wanted to, they should be able to get rid of bad umpires. Does anyone know how or if umpires are disciplined?

  11. Ryan Lansing - Aug 4, 2011 at 5:17 PM

    I’m pretty sure umpires aren’t require to talk to the media after games. Maybe they should be. If they want to be part of the story, make them face questions about what exactly a player said to get himself ejected. After a well-umpired game, most reporters would leave them alone, or ask softball questions like “Boy, Halladay sure was on tonight. How fun is it to call a game like that?”

  12. chew1985 - Aug 5, 2011 at 10:19 AM

    Anyone who thinks fake Commissioner Bud Selig would address this problem is delusional. He is the weakest link in what should still be America’s pasttime.

  13. bbk1000 - May 20, 2014 at 6:57 PM

    West, Bucknor, Hernandez, Davidson, they all should be tossed out the door…..

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