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Quote of the Day: Cody Ross on the umpires

Apr 17, 2012, 9:20 AM EDT

Jose Molina, Cody Ross

As we mentioned yesterday, Cody Ross was really screwed on the called strikes that ended the Rays-Red Sox game.  And he knew it too. Here were his postgame comments:

“If I’m going up there and striking out every at-bat, I’m going to get benched,” he said. “But it’s not that way with (umpires). They can go out there and make bad calls all day, and they’re not going to be held accountable for it.

“It’s tough. It’s such a tough situation. Believe me, I’ve umpired before. It’s tough. It’s hard. But at this level, I don’t know what to say. You’ve got to bear down.”

Can’t blame him a bit. MLB says that there is umpire discipline and accountability. But if that’s the case, there is zero transparency about it. Which is probably because they believe that if umpires are called out that people will have less confidence in them or something. I personally think it’s the opposite, though. People figure out who is good and bad anyway, and then are even more critical because they think the bad umps are arrogant and immune, even if that isn’t the case.

Probably doesn’t matter. There is no indication at all that bad umpiring will be dealt with in a satisfying manner by Major League Baseball.  We’re just gonna have to deal with it.

  1. detroitfanatic - Apr 17, 2012 at 9:31 AM

    Cry me a river. The zone sucked for Price the other day too. He had 2 opportunities to figure out what the ump was calling that day, and he watched a third pitch go by in the exact same position.

    “That ball was 2 inches outside” is never a very good excuse for striking out.

    • lardin - Apr 17, 2012 at 9:36 AM

      Baseball is a game of adjustments. Adjust to what the pitcher is throwing, Pitchers have to adjust when they dont have their best stuff. Adjusting to an Umpires strike zone is just one more on the list..

      • hasbeen5 - Apr 17, 2012 at 9:52 AM

        There should be no such thing as the umpire’s strike zone. There is only one strike zone.

      • lardin - Apr 17, 2012 at 9:59 AM

        Hasbeen5. You can have a set strikezone and see it differently. For Example, if Umpire sets up on the inside part of the plate, An inside pitch looks more like a strike than an outside pitch. Just be consistent.

      • Paul White - Apr 17, 2012 at 10:18 AM

        Do you even realize what you’re saying? You’re saying that the umpires, at their whim, have the authority to change the rules of the game. What if they used that power for stuff like, “Ball landed a foot foul? Ah, screw it, let’s call it fair today. Runner didn’t tag up before scoring on a sac fly? Screw that too, I never liked that rule, count the run. In fact, since I’ve got the plate today, I’ve decided that it will take 10 balls for a walk. I am Umpire, master of all I survey!”

        Would any of that be okay with you? Because it’s precisely the same as some umpire saying, “To hell with all this noise about the ball having to cross the plate to be a strike. I say the plate is six inches wider today, just because I can.”

      • bbil2012 - Apr 17, 2012 at 10:26 AM

        Not all players are bad ball hitters like Vlad Guerrero. Those were bad balls. Ross can’t get decent wood on those. He swings and hits a weak comebacker or something. Ross also said he needs to have plate discipline.That means swinging at pitches over the plate. Many players take that approach.
        And there is a set strike zone.
        All I’m saying is the pitcher clearly is given an advantage in this situation.

      • Michael - Apr 17, 2012 at 1:52 PM

        “Adjust to the umpire’s strike zone” is one of the most idiotic platitudes come out of the mouths of sports-talk hosts.

        YOU try “adjusting” to pitches thrown a FOOT outside for strikes, and tell me how that goes for you.

      • detroitfanatic - Apr 17, 2012 at 5:13 PM

        Care to exaggerate a little more on that foot outside comment. Every strike that was called was within 3 inches of the zone. That is too close to take with 2 strikes. If the ump is calling strikes 3 inches out of the zone, you only have yourself to blame for taking strike 3….exactly where he has consistently called it.

  2. proudlycanadian - Apr 17, 2012 at 9:33 AM

    Greater transparency regarding the umpires is greatly needed in baseball. It is time that MLB realizes that egregious errors by umps are caught on TV and are available on the Internet. Umpires have to be accountable for their blatant errors.

  3. jtchernak - Apr 17, 2012 at 9:34 AM

    I remember listening to a radio show where try said that umpires were rarely fired or given discipline so once you get into the MLB you have to be terrible to lose it

    • rollinghighwayblues - Apr 17, 2012 at 9:54 AM

      I wish that were true. I can name numerous umpires that are beyond awful that still get to keep their job.

    • paperlions - Apr 17, 2012 at 10:11 AM

      I don’t think MLB umpires can be fired for performance. They can suck as much as they want and nothing happens. The only time they get disciplined is when they instigate encounters with players/managers and lose their cool…but even that must not be able to lead to firing or Bob Davidson would have been gone years ago.

  4. bobdira - Apr 17, 2012 at 9:44 AM

    It’s true the pitches according to pitchtrac were balls. It’s true that the umpire made them strikes, but with the game on the line, the runner on second and the two prior pitches being called strikes, leaving your teams final out in the hands of the umpire is an error. Don’t pass the blame on, it was Ross’s turn at the plate and he failed.

    As far as umpire accountability being made public, I hope it never happens or we’ll see some freakin nutjob stalking and attacking an umpire for making a bad call in the sixth game of the season, let alone a playoff game. The game has withstood a lot of bad calls throughout its history, this is just another one.

    • hasbeen5 - Apr 17, 2012 at 9:55 AM

      Ross is trained to not swing at balls. Every pitch thrown in that at bat was a ball. Strike 3 was not even particularly close to the zone. He should have been on 1st base, which would have loaded the bases. With a runner on 3rd, a wild pitch scores a run.

      His job was to get on base, and by not swinging he should have been on base. The umpire took that away.

      • lardin - Apr 17, 2012 at 10:01 AM

        For the first two, maybe. But if your the batter and you know hes calling it a strike, you have to make the adjustment. He didnt. He was called out.

      • paperlions - Apr 17, 2012 at 10:14 AM

        Except, of course, that the last ball was 6 inches outside, making it nearly impossible to hit. Borderline calls, whatever. These weren’t borderline, they were way out of the strikezone.

      • hasbeen5 - Apr 17, 2012 at 10:26 AM

        lardin, that’s friggin ridiculous.

        My whole point is that he shouldn’t have to adjust to what the umpire arbitrarily decides is a strike that day, or even that at bat. A strike is a strike, a ball is a ball. The reason litle league coaches teach you not to swing at balls is that it’s much harder to hit those pitches well. An umpire shouldn’t force batters to swing at balls outside and hit them off the end of the bat.

    • Jack Marshall - Apr 17, 2012 at 10:25 AM

      This is total, utter, indefensible crap. The pitches were obviously outside, from the naked eye. Ted Williams and Wade Boggs would have been called out on those pitches. Of course its the umpire’s fault: this is professional baseball, and the players should behave as if the umpires are professional and MLB has integrity. A close, exciting, game at a crucial point between contenders was scarred because an umpire wouldn’t bear down and do his job. The fans were cheated, the Rays and Sox were cheated, and if baseball doesn’t think this makes the sport look bad, it is dumber than I thought, which is amazing.

      These comments about adjustments and umpire strike zones and “this has happened before” and “leaving your teams final out in the hands of the umpire is an error” [ Rodney was happy to do that: once he realized that he didn't have to throw a hittable pitch, he kept throwing the ball outside. The umpire TOOK the game, Ross didn't have anyt choice in the matter---how can someone not see that?] are just rationalizing the indefensible, and they also help ensure that the incompetence continues. Craig is right: “Robots now, please.”

    • danrizzle - Apr 17, 2012 at 10:36 AM

      Umpire accountability being made public would lead to violence, eh? Because your hypothetical nutjob who would stalk and attack an umpire would not have watched the game and been able to identify a bad call without an accountability measure being made public? Strains credulity.

    • hammyofdoom - Apr 17, 2012 at 12:00 PM

      So you’re telling me its the player’s fault for following a set of rules he’s followed since he was probably 5 years old? It’s not just a single bad call, its that umpiring as a hole can be faulty and yet there is nothing done about it. What if in football a wide receiver stepping just a liiittle out of bounds was still in bounds? Same for basketball, or what if in basketball or football they moved the goddamn goals and baskets depending on the ref? Because thats the level of stupidity we’re talking about

  5. saints97 - Apr 17, 2012 at 9:52 AM

    So it’s Ross’ fault that he didn’t adjust to the umpire changing the written rules of baseball?

    Does anyone happen to know why the strike zone is defined such as it is?

    Because those are the pitches that a batter has a fair chance to hit.

    I am certain that if the pitch was two feet outside, no one would blame Ross. So at what marginal quarter inch does it cease to be Ross’ fault and become the fault of the umpire making the bad call?

  6. cur68 - Apr 17, 2012 at 10:00 AM

    I feel for Ross. He probably worked his butt off to lay off that away pitch, 3 to 4′ out of the zone. He’s been raking this season so far, so its working: you swing at the strikes, not the ones out of the zone. He was facing a known head case in Rodney. A guy who couldn’t, to quote Utley’s Hair, hit a bulls ass with a handful of rice. Next thing he knows he’s strike 3 with 2 of those strikes being on pitches thrown 97mph 3 to 4 inches out of the zone: a spot and speed where he’d have likely missed the damn things anyways. Somehow, the good hitter gets hosed on the calls, and the erratic head case pitcher gets the benefit of the doubt. /..\ WTF? He’s supposed to throw plate discipline the wind to strike out anyways? Nah. He did the right thing. Ump was the guy who blew this one up.

  7. Francisco (FC) - Apr 17, 2012 at 10:33 AM

    ‘The scene was electrifying! The stadium was full. Hordes of unhappy fans chanting and shouting. At home plate, there was a large Guillotine. Several hooded men brought out a man in a blue and black uniform. He was an umpire. His transgression? He declared a pitch two feet off the plate a strike, pitch-trax evidence was undeniable, that location was nowhere near the strike zone.

    The Jumbotron clearly showed just how gregarious the blown call had been. As the man was taken to home plate, Cody Ross extended his arm, made a fist and then pointed his thumb…. downwards. The hooded men fitted the umpire on the Guillotine and struck the lever… CHOP! One less horrible umpire.

    The next one to come out had the opposite problem. A pitch clearly in the box, over the plate, being called a ball. Tsk, tsk. After a short look at the Jumbotron evidence, Roy Halladay extended his arm, made a fist and pointed his thumb… down! CHOP another umpire bites the dust… The crowd goes wild. The message has been sent. Clean up your act, or else…”

    Tiffany finished reading with her eyes growing wider with each word. She looked up at Craig, who was, as usual, sitting in his high chair, puffing bubbles while wearing his Braves Bathrobe.

    “So what do you think?, asked Craig.

    Measuring her words carefully, she answered: “I’m not sure MLB would like your proposal for holding umpires accountable Craig…”

    • umrguy42 - Apr 17, 2012 at 1:22 PM

      One minor quibble – the word you’re looking for is “egregious”, not “gregarious”. BIG difference :p

      • cur68 - Apr 17, 2012 at 2:07 PM

        He spelled “Guillotine” right. That’s the important thing.

      • Francisco (FC) - Apr 17, 2012 at 2:56 PM

        Yeah, I blame the dictionary, I typed it wrong and then the auto-correct compounded the problem!

      • umrguy42 - Apr 18, 2012 at 9:22 AM

        Francisco, say it with me now: “EDIT FUNCTION!” :p

  8. drakosm - Apr 17, 2012 at 10:51 AM

    It’s funny how there isn’t a huge outrage over the called strike to Zobrist in the 8th that was almost as bad as the final pitch to Ross. I guess since that pitch didn’t end the game it doesn’t fit the narrative of the umpire expanding the zone just for the final out.

    • hasbeen5 - Apr 17, 2012 at 11:21 AM

      Nobody said (in this thread anyway) that he expanded it for the final out. We’re saying he called bad pitches strikes.

      And does being consistently bad really make it acceptable?

      • stex52 - Apr 17, 2012 at 1:02 PM

        I would argue that consistently bad is better, because at least pitchers and hitters know what to expect. Good? No. Better? Absolutely.

        I say this because I have years of watching baseball, and a lot of things have set in as obvious. Umpires do set different strike zones. Bad umpires have different strike zones on different days, or even from inning to inning. The league talks periodically about enforcing a strike zone. I have yet to see it happen. I don’t think there is a single umpire in the league who calls the zone as high as it legally is.

        This relates to our conversation about framing on the adjacent thread. Right now everyone knows that umps are individualistic and influenceable. Until we have a better system (robots or whatever) then at least consistency in a call is almost the only tool a pitcher of batter has.

  9. davidpom50 - Apr 17, 2012 at 11:46 AM

    Some of the comments here absolutely blow my mind. It makes me angry that people want a game where umpires can change the rules on a whim, and the players are expected to adjust.

  10. whateveryousaydude - Apr 17, 2012 at 11:50 AM

    adjusting to the ump is part of the game – always has been. remember the Braves pitchers won a world series or more by getting a bunch of strikes on pitches that were way more than 2 inches outside? this is just your standard Red Sox player and fans whining…another thing that has always been part of the game. =)

    • hasbeen5 - Apr 17, 2012 at 12:36 PM

      If the umpire is calling it, why wouldn’t the pitcher throw there? What you’re saying is that it’s ok for the umpire to give the pitcher an advantage that is not in the rules. I’m not a Boston fan, and I don’t think this only applies to a single team.

  11. ballparkprints - Apr 17, 2012 at 11:58 AM

    Last nights Yankees, Minnesota game Nick Swisher had two really bad strikes called by the umpire. The pitcher see’s it the catcher see’s it, in the hole now the next pitch was down and in, Swisher hacks at it and just foul tips it the next pitch also down and in he swings and misses strike 3. Players at the MLB level know the strike zone and when the umpire doesn’t in makes it harder on players and impacts the game. The Yankees had 2 on nobody out trailing by one run getting that first out that way aided the pitcher

  12. miedwards - Apr 17, 2012 at 1:45 PM

    My argument is this…if a pitch is 6, 8, 10, 12 inches off the plate how can it be a strike? The plate is there for a reason…to measure pitches horizontally in relation to the official strike zone. If MLB allows umpires to call pitches off the plate strikes than they might as well increase the width of the plate. And the argument that you have to adjust is absurd. A strike is a strike. A ball off the plate is not. And those that claim as long as the umpire is consistent it is OK. No…that means the umpire is consistently wrong and consistently bad at his job. I’m not sure how these guys are not held accountable since there is the questech system in place to grade these guys after a game. If they are consistently wrong than how can they continue to be an umpire?

  13. miedwards - Apr 17, 2012 at 1:47 PM

    I think the incompetence of some umpires was summed up by the late, great Harry Kallas when he would say “ball (insert number), right down the middle.”

  14. stevem7 - Apr 17, 2012 at 2:28 PM

    A number of ML Umpires have made overwhelming cases to be working baseball games in Third World Countries and some are so bad they should no doubt be officiating soccer in Iran. But to expect Bud Selig and MLB to do anything about it is worse than doing your business into the wind. It ain’t gonna happen and the Larry Vanover’s and Angel Hernandez’s of our MLB will be there till they decide to retire because Selig and Torre are frightened to take them on.

  15. Tim's Neighbor - Apr 17, 2012 at 4:48 PM

    Who out there is better than the current umpires? It is an incredibly tough job where men an women can get 99% of the calls right and still be booed. Imagine doing almost vey thing at your job perfectly and then have someone who has no training at what you do question it. It’s not a normal dynamic.

    Human will make mistakes. These guys are doing their best to be right and to be consistent. There is no bias and not intentions to make certain teams lose. If you want robots, then I can understand that. If you want human umpires, you have to accept occasional failures.

    Publishing the league’s rules regarding umpire evaluation won’t help. I think it will only make matters worse. Our recent history hasn’t shown us to be a country with a general population that analyzes and applies laws/rules consistently. We tend to use them in our favor (ex: all of the politics). I MLB publishes their standards, we’ll just use that against them. Sometimes accurately, but more often not.

    • hasbeen5 - Apr 17, 2012 at 5:23 PM

      Exactly, humans make mistakes. Why not use the dame pitch f/x system to call balls and strikes? I don’t buy the human element argument.

      They use robotic arms for certain surgeries. I mean, is anybody crying about taking the human element (i.e. mistakes) out of life saving procedures? If the technology is available to ensure the most accurate results, why not use it?

  16. pogodog7 - Apr 17, 2012 at 5:30 PM

    Boo Hoo Ross aka Mr. Mediocre. What happens when the umps call the game in his favor? Ross is a fat bald loser that makes excuses and blames other for him complete lack of talent and athletic ability. He should get in better shape and lose about 25 lbs before he can call himself a professional athlete.

    • cur68 - Apr 17, 2012 at 7:04 PM

      Have you seen Cody Ross this season? I guess not. He’s in very good shape. Hell, have a look at his non-gut in the picture for this piece. Also, he’s sporting a .273 BA, .874 OPS, with 2HR, and 8 RBI over 10 games. Not too bad. He also has a good eye and excellent plate discipline: he didn’t swing at balls 1 thru 5 thrown by Rodney. The ump screwed him over. How are you having trouble understanding this?

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