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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. phrontiersman - Aug 4, 2011 at 9:42 AM

    Well said. The time I read something positive about the way this man conducts himself during a game will be the first.

    • nudeman - Aug 4, 2011 at 11:27 AM

      Tyler Colvin, just back up from the minors and trying desperately to stay up.
      Bob Davidson, notoriously terrible ump will be umping the NLCS and WS.

      Only guy who ever had the guts to clean house of bad umpires was Sandy Alderson, thanks to Richie Phillips ridiculous resignation ploy. Please, someone, press a button and make this happen again.

  2. halladaysbiceps - Aug 4, 2011 at 9:43 AM

    Both Davidson and Angel Hernandez should be given and one-way ticket to the unemployment line.

    • hank10 - Aug 4, 2011 at 9:56 AM

      Add the Cowboy to that list.

      • bh0673 - Aug 4, 2011 at 10:25 AM

        Add Fat Joe “Waste” to that list as well!

    • ILoveBaseball - Aug 4, 2011 at 2:16 PM

      As an unemployed person I take exception to this.

  3. Manni Stats - Aug 4, 2011 at 9:44 AM

    I don’t like picking on strike zones like a pedant, but his was awful last night. Below is a screen cap of a 2-2 pitch that Marmol put essentially down the middle against Lee in the 9th that was called a ball; Marmol would hit Lee on the next pitch. While it was ultimately inconsequential, it’s stll just bad umpiring.

    • kopy - Aug 4, 2011 at 10:13 AM

      I agree, but it doesn’t surprise me. I’ve seen reports from people who analyze tons of Pitch-FX data looking for trends, and the one they all find is umpires wanting the players to decide the outcome – meaning that the umpire doesn’t want to be the one to end an at-bat.

      This means that a border-line pitch that is thrown on a 0-2 count will be more likely to be called a ball, while the same pitch on a 3-0 count is more likely to be a strike.

      Even though many umps love the spotlight, and the video Craig posted is an exception, the general trend stays intact. We just don’t notice it as much because the at-bat continues.

      • FC - Aug 4, 2011 at 10:18 AM

        How much does a strike zone vary between batters? Because they will definitely have different batting stances so those knees and elbows will change height, not much mind you… but I’m curious if an umpire paints a specific box or adjusts it according to batter.

  4. kellyb9 - Aug 4, 2011 at 9:46 AM

    Wow that was really bad. Neither Colvin or Quade should have been ejected from this game. It looks like he didnt get the fight he wanted so he ejected Quade.

  5. catsmeat - Aug 4, 2011 at 9:48 AM

    Robots, please.

    OK, maybe I’m being unreasonable. I can’t expect robots. Maybe just start firing the worst umps. Out of a cannon. Into the sun.

    • kopy - Aug 4, 2011 at 10:15 AM

      I want robots. I want robots to adjust the strike zone for every batter based on height, and then I want the home plate umpire to wear a device that vibrates if the robot says a pitch is in the zone and then signal the appropriate call. Easily done, easily executed, and doesn’t change the way the game appears to the spectator.

      • spookymilk - Aug 4, 2011 at 11:09 AM

        Okay, I’m legitimately curious as to the thumbs down he’s getting. Are missed calls an important part of the game somehow? We don’t use an inexact umpiring system because that’s what MLB’s founders wanted. We use it because when the majors started, it was the best option available. That’s no longer the case.

      • tommyshih - Aug 4, 2011 at 1:47 PM

        I’d say for guys like Balkin’ Bob, Angel, Joe West, Cuzzi, Hohn, etc you could go with a little electric shock. I’m not saying tase them…or am I? Regardless, they need to work their way up to the vibrator.

        I think the spectator would notice if we executed the umps.

    • spookymilk - Aug 4, 2011 at 10:27 AM

      How powerful of a cannon would it have to be to get the average Major League umpire to move more than a few feet?

  6. jasondprice - Aug 4, 2011 at 9:49 AM

    On the plus side whomever played Davidson in their fantasy umpire league had a good night.

    • Mr. Jason "El Bravo" Heyward - Aug 4, 2011 at 10:37 AM

      Aw man, this comment had me actually laughing out loud. Well done, sir. That’d be the best fantasy league ever.

      • spindervish - Aug 4, 2011 at 11:09 AM

        You don’t watch ESPN much huh?

      • gammagammahey - Aug 4, 2011 at 11:13 AM

        It’s a real thing.

      • Mr. Jason "El Bravo" Heyward - Aug 4, 2011 at 11:21 AM

        Nope. No cable. I watch ESPN3 through my xbox. Gets me by, but I do sorely miss Sportscenter. I’ll try to keep up.

  7. purnellmeagrejr - Aug 4, 2011 at 9:51 AM

    good column.

  8. jimbo1949 - Aug 4, 2011 at 9:58 AM

    Contrasted with Chris Conroy he’s genuine d’bag.
    Last night Dodgers @ Padres, 7th inning: Aaron Miles batting with 2 out, bases loaded and a full count. Called strike three and Miles who was headed towards first throws his bat down in disgust. Dick Enberg, Padres announcer, comments that it looks like Miles will be ejected. Back from the break, Miles is out in the field still playing third.
    Apparently some umpires can allow the players to express emotion without it diminishing their manhood and some can’t.

    • losburrosinblue - Aug 4, 2011 at 11:30 AM

      Conroy took a lot of crap from the Dodgers last night. First inning, Ethier struck out and stood in the batters box, obviously showing him up. Then it happened a few times throughout the game. I think even a couple of Padres gave him crap, but he never moved from behind the plate. I didn’t agree with his strike zone for either team, but the guy handled himself really well.

  9. cur68 - Aug 4, 2011 at 9:59 AM

    I’m sick of this guy. sick of West and Hernandez, too. Put ’em in a burlap sack and set it out for the garbage men already: they stink.

  10. Kevin S. - Aug 4, 2011 at 10:01 AM

    Thinner skin than Joe West? That’s saying something.

  11. trevorb06 - Aug 4, 2011 at 10:01 AM

    Let’s have a poll. State who you believe is the worst umpire in the game by replying to this thread. Craig, would you like to put up a poll post maybe? That’d be awesome as I’m curious of the opinions of the readers.

    • trevorb06 - Aug 4, 2011 at 10:02 AM

      I’m voting Joe West. (Davidson a close 2nd. Hernandez 3rd.)

      • cur68 - Aug 4, 2011 at 10:26 AM

        West, Davidson, Hernandez, respectively top 3. Scott Barry, because I’ve taken a dislike to Scott Barry, and Lord Dark Helmet (Greg Gibson) for his arbitrary strike zone, stupid oversized helmet and his knee jerk ejections for 4th and 5th place.

      • jimbo1949 - Aug 4, 2011 at 10:41 AM

        West, Hernandez, Balkin’ Bob, and Bucknor.
        They’re on my Outhouse Crew. The only problem is they’d be fighting amongst themselves to be the one in the hole filling the bucket and handing it up, cause none of them will take any shit from anybody.

      • dasher521 - Aug 4, 2011 at 10:58 AM

        West, West, West.

      • jdd428 - Aug 4, 2011 at 4:35 PM

        I’ll take Davidson as the worst, but just barely over West. Hernandez is a clear 3rd.

    • twofistedslopper - Aug 4, 2011 at 10:24 AM

      Phil Cuzzi’s pretty bad. CB Bucknor has his moments, but I like him because Dusty Baker has conniptions about him.

      • trevorb06 - Aug 4, 2011 at 10:28 AM

        Yeah, Cuzzi may make some questionable calls but at least he isn’t trying to run the ball game with ejections. Does that give him anything? 😛

    • drmonkeyarmy - Aug 4, 2011 at 10:39 AM

      Frank Dreben. The way he show boats on his balls and strikes calls his out of hand.

      • browngoat25 - Aug 4, 2011 at 11:38 AM

        Wasnt that Enrico Pallazzo?

  12. 78mu - Aug 4, 2011 at 10:05 AM

    Will anything happen to Davidson? This isn’t like calling a ball foul when it lands a foot inside the line or even calling someone safe at first to blow up a perfect game. This is behavior that is intentionally belligerent to a player and manager and would not be allowed in any other business.

    If the union won’t let Davidson be fired there is something wrong with the balance of power between the umpires and MLB. No umpire is bigger than the game and no fan goes to a game to see an umpire (though I always liked watching Dutch Rennert call strikes).

    A job as a major league umpire is desirable enough that there are a lot of people willing to do the job without the attitude Davidson has. The players, teams and fans deserve better.

    • trevorb06 - Aug 4, 2011 at 10:11 AM

      I’d like to see the players association/union take on the Umpire’s Union. You know they’re getting sick of this garbage, too.

    • FC - Aug 4, 2011 at 10:20 AM

      No umpire is bigger than the game and no fan goes to a game to see an umpire (though I always liked watching Dutch Rennert call strikes)

      My favorite is still Enrico Palazzo. No one calls strikes and strikeouts like that…

  13. tjwilliams - Aug 4, 2011 at 10:06 AM

    Leaving aside the thin-skinned thing, according to PitchFX ( ) Davidson incorrectly called 11 balls strikes and 6 strikes balls, meaning he missed 17 calls out 131 pitches or 13 percent. I don’t know how that compares to other umpires, but for all the harping Selig and company do about how 99 percent of calls are accurate, when we can definitively see that an umpire is blowing 13 percent of strike calls, something needs to change.

    And that is counting the obvious pitches, too. If you look only at the close pitches, he missed more like 27 percent of the calls.

    • cur68 - Aug 4, 2011 at 10:55 AM

      27%?! I’m shocked, shocked I tell you!…that its so low. I had him for 35% easy.

    • FC - Aug 4, 2011 at 12:50 PM

      Does PitchFX take into account the batter’s stance? Is that what it means by normalized strike zone plot? Just want to make sure we get this stuff right once we create the robots.

      (Funny enough in Futurama, their version of baseball HAS robot umps!)

      • tjwilliams - Aug 4, 2011 at 12:52 PM

        Yes, the normalized graphs takes into account the player’s batting stance. They also have non-normalized graphs that do not.

  14. shaggylocks - Aug 4, 2011 at 10:08 AM

    I think I have a lot more sympathy for umps than the average baseball fan, but it drives me crazy that there are excellent, highly-qualified umpires languishing in the minor leagues because crap-ass umps like Davidson, Joe West, Angel Hernandez, and CB Bucknor are stinking up the majors and holding down lifetime positions. MLB needs to find a way to get rid of them, and they need to frame it as an opportunity for the young, qualified umps in the minors who have paid their dues and earned their chance at the Show.

    • chisoxpurdue - Aug 4, 2011 at 10:12 AM

      Davidson, Cowboy Joe West, Angel and CB should be all on one crew. And they should only work California Penal League games.

      • cur68 - Aug 4, 2011 at 10:57 AM

        What, jail isn’t punishment enough? Oh the humanity…

      • jdd428 - Aug 4, 2011 at 4:39 PM

        “I’ve sentenced umpires worse than you to the gas chamber. Didn’t want to do it; I felt I owed it to them.”

    • 78mu - Aug 4, 2011 at 12:12 PM

      That’s what I don’t understand. If any business had some incompetents running a division with talented people under them ready to step in, the incompetents would be sent packing. No one has a right to a job unless they are the owners putting their own money at risk. Bad umpires should be no different than any other employee that is not up to doing the job.

  15. Paul White - Aug 4, 2011 at 10:09 AM

    What’s really sad is that the video you linked has the announcers openly questioning an umpire’s competence and temperament and it’s POSTED ON MLB.COM. That would be the organization that employs Bob Davidson, posting a critique of his job performance on their public-facing website, begging the public to watch him be bad at his job so they can get the page clicks and drive up their advertising rates, then doing nothing about the actual poor job performance.

    • Detroit Michael - Aug 4, 2011 at 10:15 AM

      Actually, I’m glad that doesn’t selectively choose not to post video clips that contain opposing viewpoints. It’s not sad at all, in my opinion.

      • Paul White - Aug 4, 2011 at 11:21 AM

        Let me clarify. If they posted the video as a means of being transparent, then you’re right, it’s not sad at all. But since it’s pretty clear they don’t intend to do anything about Davidson or the other poor umps, I don’t think they had an altruistic reason for posting the video. I think they posted it because they knew it would drive traffic to, which in turn allows them to keep advertisers happy and keep their ad rates high. In short, they view their bad umps more as financial opportunities instead of embarrassments. That’s the sad part.

    • bh0673 - Aug 4, 2011 at 10:41 AM

      STUPID IS AS STUPID DOES, the guy is a problem and to make believe he isn’t and he didn’t screw up would be an insult to the fans.

  16. johnbaptistephilouza - Aug 4, 2011 at 10:12 AM

    All of my close friends are football fans. I like football just fine, but baseball is and always has been my favorite sport.

    And while no pro sport (and certainly the officiating there-of) are perfect, it’s crap like this that makes it harder and harder for me to defend baseball.

    The crazy thing is, with the exception of PEDs, the biggest problems stem from umpiring. The crazier thing is that these problems could easily be helped.

    There seems to be some sort of Supreme-Court-Justice-career-track thing going on with umpires. This needs to stop. If you are and have been consistently bad at your job, you should be fired. Human error is what it is, but some umpires are unilaterally more erroneous than others. If better replacements can be found, they should be.

    Talk is made about robots and replay, but until you can be certain that the men governing play on the field are of sound mind and temperament, the argument seems futile.

    • kopy - Aug 4, 2011 at 10:20 AM

      I have a friend who loves golf, and it’s hard to argue when he claims that golf is the biggest sport where you can’t get screwed over by the refs/umps. I guess NASCAR could count, but I don’t like it. Either way, both sports only have instances where participants get upset with strict applications of the rule book, but no one gets screwed over by judgement calls.

    • halladaysbiceps - Aug 4, 2011 at 10:21 AM

      It has to do with the Umpires Union. They may be the strongest union in all of sports. They can get away with anything. Darth Selig knows it. That’s why he never does anything about it.

      • bh0673 - Aug 4, 2011 at 10:33 AM

        That may be the case but at some point Selig needs to address it even if privately. We do not attend games tor watch on TV to see the umpires. I equate it to a pinball machine that tilts to easily, how long are you going to play that machine before you stop wasting your time. West, Hernandez and Davidson are not assets and in fact can ruin a game. LAst night I watched Brian Bruney get thrown out in seconds for being frustrated by a close call, I am not a White Sox fan but even there enough is enough. Selig is so worried about games running too long well we didn’t need to sit and wait for a new pitcher to come in and warm up because an umpire had a hair trigger ejection decision.

      • 78mu - Aug 4, 2011 at 12:15 PM

        I thought MLB took care of the bad attitudes among umpires when they went on strike and quit and the leagues were able to hire back the ones they wanted. It seems there were a lot more umpires back then that thought they were the show and would follow players to the dugout itching for a fight. If Selig let the union back running things the way they want then the new commissioner should take charge.

  17. FC - Aug 4, 2011 at 10:22 AM

    Since Bob likes to eject people so much for his next game he should just eject himself… out of an F-15… with no parachute…

  18. twofistedslopper - Aug 4, 2011 at 10:26 AM

    The fact that each commenter is coming up with the same names, let alone knowing the names of the umpires, shows there is a problem.

    • bh0673 - Aug 4, 2011 at 10:38 AM

      Dude ask most fans we know the names, if West and Hernandez umpiring any three game series I will not go to that game nor watch on TV, I am tired of their meddling in even the pace of the game. AND SOMEONE NEEDS TO SLAP THE YOU KNOW WHAT OUT OF WEST AND GET IT THROUGH HIS HEAD YANKEE-RED SOX GAMES ARE NOT SHORT GAMES, THE FANS UNDERSTAND THAT AND WANT THEIR MONEYS WORTH.

      • kopy - Aug 4, 2011 at 10:53 AM

        I don’t like the umps either, but I wouldn’t pay to watch Papelbon take 15 seconds to stare down the signal only to have Jeter call (not ask for) time. Then Posada runs out to talk on the mound even though his team is on offense and he doesn’t catch anymore.

      • jimbo1949 - Aug 4, 2011 at 10:54 AM

        Poor Joe, those long games exacerbate his hunger pangs.
        The way to handle that is bring out a box of donuts between innings.

  19. dailyrev - Aug 4, 2011 at 10:37 AM

    You know the old saying (even the umps themselves repeat this truism): when no one notices the ump’s presence is when he’s done his best work. So why not make it so permanently? The tech is there — umps are graded, evaluated using that same tech that we all watch every day on TV.

    Oh, dear, but that would take the “human element” out of the game. BS, BS, BS. The human element is the players and their talent and effort, that will always be there (until we have robots that can hit .300 and paint the black at 100 mph). The “human element” that we don’t need is self-aggrandizing neurosis, among both umps and guys wearing unis.

    Again, the tech is there, the commitment needs to follow. Start using it in the minors, whose leagues and teams could often use the savings it will bring. Then move from there. Both games — and blog comment bins — will be shortened. What’s not to like about that?

  20. Mr. Jason "El Bravo" Heyward - Aug 4, 2011 at 10:38 AM

    It is clear that Bob Davidson is a cake lover.

    • jimbo1949 - Aug 4, 2011 at 10:47 AM

      Yeah, somebody has to drop the bomb. Might as well be you.

    • cur68 - Aug 4, 2011 at 11:05 AM

      That man is pure pie and you know it, Pie-Lover (spits). Stop trying to paint that merde as our delicious dessert. Steps can be taken against you, you know. We are strong. We have the ice cream lobby with us. We will have them give you brain freeze then crush your nuts for topping.

      You’ve been warned.

      • Mr. Jason "El Bravo" Heyward - Aug 4, 2011 at 11:24 AM

        This slanderous soliloquy shall not be tolerated. Expect to be hearing from Mr. James T. Pie III, esq. soon and look out for the District Court complaint in the mail.

      • Alex K - Aug 4, 2011 at 12:14 PM

        Ice Cream is behind cake on this one. Davidson is all pie, all the time.

      • Alex K - Aug 4, 2011 at 12:14 PM

        Not behind…WITH. Ice cream is behind no dessert.

      • Jonny 5 - Aug 4, 2011 at 12:24 PM

        He’s a freaking fruit cake i tell yaaa! An upside down cake, and to the best players the reward is a face of heavenly pie…… MMMM Pie face….

      • cur68 - Aug 4, 2011 at 12:37 PM

        I hate fruit cake. But even that kind of cake is too good for that d-bag Davidson. Nope. He’s pie. And what’s more, El Bravo, the cake lobby does not fear your pie filled law-dogs. We know that he only appears solid when inside there is nothing but mush and pieces of soggy fruit. Yuck. I laugh at your lawyer, Jimmy Pie The Turd. Ha!

      • Mr. Jason "El Bravo" Heyward - Aug 4, 2011 at 1:27 PM

        J5 says it all… fruit pies are arguably the best pies; fruit cakes is the worst cakes. Cake can’t even handle f@cking fruit correctly. God, cake is so dumb I just wanna punch cake in its cakey face.

  21. jaysfan64 - Aug 4, 2011 at 11:15 AM

    Hmm…. Bob Davidson….we in Toronto still remember this guy….something about a blown call on Kelly Gruber’s tag on Deion Sanders in the 1992 World Series that took a triple play away from the Jays…. earlier this season in Anaheim he called a runners interference on Yunel Escobar that really wasn’t – think of the missed calls and arrogance (just this season alone!)…’d think a 20 plus year history of blowing calls and being aggressive and confrontational would be enough for MLB to do the right thing and can this guy…..

    • cur68 - Aug 4, 2011 at 11:23 AM

      I’d forgotten about the Davidson screw up in TO back in ’92. Probably ’cause the Beaver Men won the WS. That triple play non-call was beyond ridiculous. I’m changing Davidson to #1 on most my most hated list then West then Hernandez.

      Bob Davidson; that no-talent ass-clown, screwing over ball games since…since forever it seems.

  22. jaysfan64 - Aug 4, 2011 at 11:23 AM

  23. jaysfan64 - Aug 4, 2011 at 11:35 AM

    When even the broadcasters are caught flatfooted by one of his blown calls…..BUCK MARTINEZ! Speechless! that tells you all you need to know…..every time I either tune in or pop down to the Rogers Centre and hear this guy’s name or that of Alfonso Marquez I cringe and wonder in what new and creative way the Jays will get screwed today….

  24. willcoop - Aug 4, 2011 at 11:49 AM

    This is the same turd that screwed up the triple play in Toronto in the 90’s. Colvin didn’t try and show him up, he turned and walked away and dummy thought it was a good idea to follow him to the dugout and instigate a fight. He is my favorite for worst ump, terrible strike zone, really thin skinned and probably has a bad case of the piles. At least cowboy Joe will let you get your say before he boots you. CB and Hernandez are neck and neck for the second spot and I give Joe Waste the fourth spot.

  25. FC - Aug 4, 2011 at 11:56 AM

    If we’re going to dredge up more memorable Bob screw-ups I have one that Gator probably blew a gasket over: bottom of the 9th Inning, Phillies 4, Marlins 4. Man on 2nd. Hard grounder, makes one bounce on the 3rd base line not far from home, a 2nd bounce on the line again before hopping past third. JUST before the ball bounces INSIDE the line in the outfield, Bob was already calling the ball foul (I’m guessing he thought the Ball crossed on the wrong side of 3B and couldn’t be bothered to wait for the ball to bounce on the outfield). And yeah, the Phillies eventually went on to win that game.

    I remember a lot of discussion on whether such a ball could physically curve around 3B on the outside (FOUL) and then fall back inside on the outfield (FAIR).

    • jdd428 - Aug 4, 2011 at 4:45 PM

      That was one of the all-time worst blown calls I have ever seen, along with Jim Joyce-Armando Galarraga and Jerry Meals’ blown game-winning play at the plate. And of the three, only Bad Bob was not apologetic after the fact.

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