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MLB fines Tony La Russa for in-game criticism of umpires

Oct 4, 2011, 1:20 PM EDT

St. Louis Cardinals v Arizona Diamondbacks Getty Images

MLB has fined Cardinals manager Tony La Russa an undisclosed amount for his criticism of umpires during a between-innings television interview Sunday, according to Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post Dispatch.

In speaking to the TBS announcers, La Russa said of home plate umpire Jerry Meals: “I would add–which could get me in trouble, but I’m going to add anyway–is that we are pitching to two different strike zones.”

Well, he was right about the “get me in trouble” part. La Russa met yesterday with MLB vice president for on-field operations Joe Torre, but the manager declined to comment afterward.

Strauss reports that the fine was “four figures,” so while it isn’t enough to put a dent in La Russa’s bank account it’ll probably be enough to keep him quiet.

  1. richeich - Oct 4, 2011 at 1:27 PM

    I thought the first amendment guaranteed our free speech. The league was wrong for fining him..Why can’t the league ever discipline their umpires?
    This stinks!

    • paperlions - Oct 4, 2011 at 1:36 PM

      First, you need to learn what “free speech” means, because this is not a violation of it.

      Second, umpires are disciplined all the time, MLB just does not make that discipline public, which is what people find frustrating.

      • paperlions - Oct 4, 2011 at 1:37 PM

        Third, boobz

    • Alex K - Oct 4, 2011 at 1:38 PM

      I really hope this was sarcasm.

  2. mvp43 - Oct 4, 2011 at 1:41 PM

    Free speech doesn’t mean you’re free of critisism or disciplinary action. He excercised his right of free speech and the league excercised its right to fine him.

  3. frenchysplatediscipline - Oct 4, 2011 at 1:43 PM

    Free speech is the wrong argument here. If you think I am wrong, go into your boss today and tell him he is an asshole. Then make sure you use the free speech argument at your unemployment hearing.

    Discipline the umpires is the correct one however.

    But they do discipline them. Unfortunately its not public like all others in the sport, nor does it seem to ever be more than a slap on the wrist due to the ever contestant problems from the same men in blue over and over…

    • frenchysplatediscipline - Oct 4, 2011 at 1:44 PM

      Sorry lions. I got a phone call in the middle of that comment and didn’t hit refresh before posting. Wasn’t trying to steal your idea.

  4. drmonkeyarmy - Oct 4, 2011 at 1:43 PM

    That comment was such bullshit. The game was called fairly.

    • frenchysplatediscipline - Oct 4, 2011 at 1:46 PM

      That game was called fairly, but only because the strike zone was total bullshit for both teams.

      Consistently inconsistent….

      • drmonkeyarmy - Oct 4, 2011 at 1:48 PM

        Exactly. Hence, there was not 2 strike zones making the comment nonsense.

      • stlouis1baseball - Oct 4, 2011 at 2:14 PM

        This fine was expected (at least by me). As for the strike zones…I feel there was certainly two strike zones. These strike zones fluctuated from one inning to the next. One zone was high and inside…and the other one was low and outside. Even Bob Brenly (who I am not a fan of)…agreed as much right after TLR’s in game interview. In my opinion…when one of the announcers openly agrees on National TV…there is a pretty fair chance the comment has value. Charlie Manual made a similar statement about the strikezone(s). Either way, I agree that it went both ways. I guess if you are gonna’ have two strike zones…at least make it consistent for both teams.

      • drmonkeyarmy - Oct 4, 2011 at 2:17 PM

        I took TLR comment to mean that St.Louis and one strike zone and the Phillies another. I see what you are saying however and don’t necessarily disagree.

  5. cardsfanindelaware - Oct 4, 2011 at 1:44 PM

    Cudos to La Russa for being a man and speaking his mind. Ole Charlie was too busy chewing his Bubble Yum to complain. The bendch was chriping from their dugout, not the man who should be the voice to be heard.

    • stlouis1baseball - Oct 4, 2011 at 2:21 PM

      Charlie did comment on the two strikezones. He agreed with TLR.

    • kellyb9 - Oct 4, 2011 at 4:29 PM

      Yeah… really brave of him.. instead of confronting the umpire or politely asking him about the zone, he brought it up in an in-game interview with TBS.

  6. indyeagle - Oct 4, 2011 at 2:39 PM

    St Louis,

    Don’t give me the “Bob Brenly agreed on National TV” argument, because Brenly was simply being a kiss ass. In the half inning before, when Larussa went to the mound and waited for the ump to break it up, he gave the ump his two cents and Brenly said “I don’t know if he is upset over a particular at bat or the calls in general”. So, if Brenly noticed the inconsistent strike zone, wouldn’t he have called it out right then and there?

    In addition, I realize the “strike zone” that the networks put up are not always accurate, but not a single call the umpire made was disputed by the network zone until AFTER Larussa complained like a baby. Then, and only then, was Utley’s ridiculous strikeout rung up which was the first out of the “TV strike zone” call of the game.

    Of course Charlie agreed, after Larussa complained, the ump completely changed the way he was calling the game and the Phils got hosed. No worries though, this series is over in 4.

    • stlouis1baseball - Oct 4, 2011 at 2:45 PM

      Indy: Your argument doesn’t hold water in my opinion. Brenly didn’t know what he said when he made the visit to the mound (hence him not elaborating at the time). Naturally, he isn’t guess at that point. As for the “network zone”…I don’t agree with you here either as they were all over the place from the 1st pitch. As for your comment in regards to Charlie agreeing…not sure what your point is here. Charlie agreed. Either way…it was bad for both teams and both duggouts complained accordingly. The series being over in 4? Riiiiight.

  7. leerosenthall - Oct 4, 2011 at 2:46 PM

    Apparently Tony was jawing with the umpires about the strike zone between innings BEFORE he complained on TBS. If arguing about balls and strikes is a no-no, how come he wasn’t tossed from the game?

    Charlie Manuel, OTOH, knows better than to risk getting tossed that early in a game.

    I guess the real question will be whether or not the umpires “make Tony pay” for airing his grievance DURING an actual game on live television. If I were Tony, I wouldn’t bet on my pitchers getting the benefit of the doubt for the rest of the postseason.

    That being said, the umping this postseason SUCKS. I couldn’t believe how they were squeezing Sabathia and Verlander in that game last night.

    • wendell7 - Oct 4, 2011 at 2:59 PM

      “That being said, the umping this postseason SUCKS. I couldn’t believe how they were squeezing Sabathia and Verlander in that game last night.”

      I was just gonna say the same thing. Seems like every post season the past few years, the umpiring has been shoddy at best. Maybe if it was made public information each time an umpire is disciplined, the same way it is for managers and players, they would feel compelled to do a better job out there. This is the post season, teams are out there giving their best. We should expect the same from the umpiring crews.

  8. dailyrev - Oct 4, 2011 at 2:47 PM

    Very strange cultural dissonance in this nation: judges in sports aren’t allowed to interact with the public or deliver opinion “outside the lines”; but judges in civil society, you know, the people who adjudicate legal/constitutional issues, spout in public and media forums constantly. Even SCOTUS judges: guys like Roberts and Scalia are always venting their spleens, usually at political functions where they collect massive speaking fees. But the only para-professional remarks allowed an ump are of the Confiteor… mea maxima culpa variety (Joyce after he ruined that kid’s perfect game). Maybe if umps were allowed to vent like the players and managers do, you’d see less BS on the field…

    But the real solution is ‘bots. Believe me, I was at a tech career fair this morning, and there’s a lot of geeks looking for work. Baseball ump-bots, now that would be a project to keep a lot of us working…

  9. eagles512 - Oct 4, 2011 at 6:17 PM

    Whining drunk

  10. em26jamie - Oct 4, 2011 at 6:34 PM

    So in other words, TLR paid off the ump!

  11. somekat - Oct 5, 2011 at 4:35 PM

    He was right. There were 2 different strike zones in that game. Especially in the 2nd half of the game. The one the Cards were pitching to was much bigger than the one Lee was pitching to

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