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Umpire tells Russell Martin he has to “earn the privilege” to throw new balls back to the pitcher

May 31, 2012, 7:57 AM EST

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim vs Baltimore Orioles Getty Images

Weirdness in Anaheim.

Last night Russell Martin and home plate umpire Laz Diaz got into it over balls and strikes early in the game, but no one lost their head and Martin was not ejected. Later, however, Martin said Diaz began to mess with him:

Martin says Diaz wouldn’t allow him to throw new baseballs back to his pitchers after fouls during New York’s 6-5 win over the Los Angeles Angels on Wednesday night … Martin says Diaz told him that throwing the balls was “a privilege I had to earn.”

In explaining it, Martin used a colorful metaphor to describe Diaz:

“Even at the end of the game after I get hit in the neck. I’m like, can I throw the ball back now? He’s still like no. I’m like you’re such a (expletive). Like for real. Unbelievable. I even told him like when there’s guys on base, I like to keep my arm loose. No. I’m not letting you throw a ball back. That’s pretty strange to me … I was kind of mystified. I really didn’t get that. He was punishing me.”

I have never heard of such a thing. And while umpires sometimes throw the new balls out themselves, I have certainly never heard of an umpire either insisting on throwing them or refusing to allow a catcher to do so.

If this actually went down the way Martin says it did and Diaz was petulantly messing with Martin over their earlier dispute, the guy doesn’t deserve to be officiating major league games.

  1. tjg25 - May 31, 2012 at 10:24 AM

    Laz Diaz has always been a douche. He’s notorious for calling the check swing strike from behind home plate which is a call I think shouldn’t even be allowed by the home plate ump.

    • pisano - May 31, 2012 at 10:42 AM

      Right on, he did it last night to Arod and the replay showed he was wrong as usual. He is one of the worst umpires in baseball, but he has a lot of company.

    • hockeyflow33 - May 31, 2012 at 12:58 PM

      Easily the worst ump in MLB

    • bozosforall - May 31, 2012 at 11:29 PM

      That’s because Diaz gets off handling as many pitchers balls as he possibly can.

    • pjmarn6 - Jun 1, 2012 at 1:14 AM

      Two things, could this be some kind of umpire retaliation for having one of their members suspended and Diaz is pushing the envelope to see if he could be suspended so that the union would start some sort of work stoppage?

      Second thing. Today with lazers and all the electronic gizmos and stuff, definitely a machine can be developed to call balls and strikes as they cross home plate. The black around home plate could shoot up lazer lights that would tell that the ball actually crossed the plate and tabs could be sewn into the uniforms at the top and bottom of the strike zone and another machine at the base of the stands could tell if the ball was in the zone between the tabs and a computer would then immediately tell that it was in the players strike zone and a tiny phone would buzz in the hand of the ump signifing that the thrown ball was a strike. No buzz in the hand then it was a ball.
      People don’t go to see umpires. I believe that they are still blackballing the umps who were called up when they last went on strike.
      It would do my heart good to see them all suspended for a few weeks, bring up the minor league or retired umps and teach them a lesson.

  2. allmyteamsareterrible - May 31, 2012 at 10:39 AM

    The narcissism of major league baseball umps astonishes me.

    • biasedhomer - May 31, 2012 at 10:58 AM

      It is the worst of any officiating in sports. Umpires want to be more a part of the game than the actually need to be. With technology improving, maybe there can be an electronic strike zone to get rid of the home plate ump.

      • allmyteamsareterrible - May 31, 2012 at 12:22 PM

        Honestly, technology is better than the human element. I would rather calls be unequivocally right than not. That’s why factory jobs are disappearing because robots just do a better job in a faster time. Baseball has long shown that they will resist technology being added to their game so this won’t happen ever, but I am sick and tired of games being determined by incorrect calls. It ruins things for me.

      • coloradothistle - May 31, 2012 at 4:33 PM

        Worst officiating of any sport? You’ve stopped watching the NBA, haven’t you?

        I agree that an electronic strike zone would be ideal.

      • philiplewis1 - Jun 6, 2012 at 10:24 AM

        I have no love for MLB umps with their arrogant, chip-on-the shoulder and “it’s my game” attitude. However, there is no way the MLB umps are as bad as NBA officials. MLB umps get most of the calls right. They’re just hard to stomach with their attitudes. NBA officials can’t make the most elementary call correct. They have their own set of rules in their head which doesn’t jive with any other rules anywhere.

    • hank10 - May 31, 2012 at 11:13 AM

      Speaking of which. Last night’s Phils-Mets game, bottom of 1st there is a play at the plate. Ed Rapuano goes into this exaggerated safe call and winds up hurting his back and delaying the game for a bit. These guys will never learn that no one goes to a game to see an umpire work. http://mlb.mlb.com/mlb/gameday/index.jsp?gid=2012_05_30_phimlb_nynmlb_1&mode=box#gid=2012_05_30_phimlb_nynmlb_1&mode=video

  3. rcali - May 31, 2012 at 10:57 AM

    Just another reason why umps will all be replaced by a computer system of some sorts one day whether we like it or not.

  4. jason9696 - May 31, 2012 at 10:59 AM

    I could see maybe if Russell Martin was a rookie. But he’s far from that. That’s just terrible.

    • georgebrett - May 31, 2012 at 11:13 AM

      What’s being a rookie have to do with doing your job?

      • dangle13x - May 31, 2012 at 11:29 AM

        if you don’t know what being a rookie would have to do with it, you are clearly an idiot with no knowledge of professional sports and the stigma of being a rookie in any league. While I agree it should not be this way, the fact that you can’t even acknowledge that it’s there shows what ou know.

      • jamkarat - May 31, 2012 at 1:02 PM

        @dangle12x- My dad was a pitcher, and I’ve been in and around the game for over 55 years. You would be the idiot. This has nothing to do with rookie status. This has to do with an ump with a Napoleon complex. There are many hoops a rookie is subjected to, being treated like a child by an ump during a professional game is not one of them.

      • electstat - Jun 4, 2012 at 8:38 PM

        how about you bless all of us idiots with your professional pedigree dangle and explain to us how being a rookie means he isn’t allowed to throw the ball back to his pitcher.

    • pjmarn6 - Jun 1, 2012 at 1:18 AM

      Russel could always allow a few balls to get away from him when Diaz is behind him. Even though umps also wear cups getting hit there by a 90 mph fast ball has to hurt. Even if he got it on the leg, it would be nice.

  5. dirkified - May 31, 2012 at 11:04 AM

    Martin should have taken the high road and said he made Diaz his ball beeotch and made the ump throw all the balls to the pitcher..

  6. mississippimusicman - May 31, 2012 at 11:08 AM

    Live it up now, Laz, while you can. Next year we get video review. I wonder how many umps will “retire” in the next couple of years?

  7. filthyslider - May 31, 2012 at 11:08 AM

    one of the worst umps in the game, confrontational, petty, anti- yankee douche bag douche bag. Bud Selig doesn’t have the stones to do anything about bad umps.

    • dangle13x - May 31, 2012 at 11:31 AM

      anti-yankee?? You moronic yankee fans are beyond delusional. Priceless.

      • bozosforall - May 31, 2012 at 11:33 PM

        And you anti-Yankee douchebag fans suffer from extreme jealousy, particularly the idiot Red Sox morons, dangle1point3.

  8. djpostl - May 31, 2012 at 11:12 AM

    Diaz is one of the most worthless pieces of shit to work the game. End of story.

  9. tomtravis76 - May 31, 2012 at 11:20 AM

    Baseball has to move forward with technology. You cant keep a system in place were umps are routinely making mistakes that are costing teams, ultimately money, that the fans are seeing by the help of technology. When a broadcast shows the replay mistakes it takes away the credibility of the game, as we are seeing an umps personel feelings/emotions are getting in the way of calling a fair game. An ump is only there to enforce the rules, not to be seen as part of the game in determining the outcome.

    Never want to call for a guys job, but an ump cant mess with players like that, too much money is involved each game.

    • dangle13x - May 31, 2012 at 11:31 AM

      Well said.

  10. drewsylvania - May 31, 2012 at 11:21 AM

    A couple questions:

    1) Who are the *good* umps? Are they outnumbered by the bad ones?
    2) Isn’t the NBA worse, since they actively throw playoff games?

    • bozosforall - May 31, 2012 at 11:35 PM

      Sure, typical Boston crybaby. Like the refs did to the Hawks in Game 6 against the Celtics. The NBA even had to admit that the call was wrong the next day.

      • drewsylvania - Jun 1, 2012 at 11:43 AM

        Your posts mark you as a world-class idiot, and you make it worse with every post.

      • 18thstreet - Jun 6, 2012 at 4:21 PM

        I’m so glad he’s back.

      • bozosforall - Jun 7, 2012 at 12:02 AM

        Glad who’s back?

  11. spudatx - May 31, 2012 at 12:02 PM

    Bud Selig needs to address this before he becomes as irrelevant and behind the times as David Stern has. Oh wait…

    • pjmarn6 - Jun 1, 2012 at 1:20 AM

      Selig is relevant now?

  12. markcycy - May 31, 2012 at 12:26 PM

    i would have had the pitcher keep changing the new balls or call time out have my pitcher throw it back to me and then throw it back to the pitcher

  13. socalyankeejetfan - May 31, 2012 at 12:40 PM

    Just another case of Umpires thinking the game is more about themselves than the players or even game itself. Memo to Bud Selig…

    THE NEXT TIME THE UMPS EVEN THREATEN TO WALK, TELL THEM ALL “DON’T LET THE DOOR HIT YOU IN THE A$$ ON YOUR WAY OUT!!”

  14. shanabartels - May 31, 2012 at 12:41 PM

    I respect Martin’s decision to call Diaz out on his absurd behavior, because I would have done the same thing if someone acted that unreasonable with me. That said, I hope other umpires don’t hold a grudge and deny Martin close calls from here on out. I’m not usually a conspiracy theorist, but that kind of behavior from umpires wouldn’t surprise me at all.

    • pjmarn6 - Jun 1, 2012 at 1:24 AM

      Of course the umpires are going to take it out on Martin? Martin showed one of them up! Now Yankee management has to videotape all the umps from every angle and show how the umps are hurting the game. If Martin has the balls to call them out, then the Yankees have to stand up for Martin.

  15. ermur22 - May 31, 2012 at 1:17 PM

    Like, Russel Martin should like, grow the hell up!! Like!!

  16. ditto65 - May 31, 2012 at 4:04 PM

    Don’t you get it? Keeping bad umps and letting them do dumb things keeps baseball in the media. It also distracts from other issues, such as publicly funded private parks and the such. Brilliant…

  17. emopell - May 31, 2012 at 4:58 PM

    Nobody paid to see Diaz play. And, nobody pays Russell Martin to be a public speaker!

  18. rico7207 - May 31, 2012 at 6:30 PM

    Way to go MLB. This is why I stop going to any more MLB games. If the league wants to let the umpires be the show, then they can go watch the games. When I use to go regularly, I went to watch the players be the show but I am not paying 50$ plus to go watch umpires trying to be bigger than the game. Not happening any more as these umps are blind, untalented and think they are bigger than the game. Time for the president of MLB to get off the velcro on his derriere and do something about it. Until then, keep your baseball.

    • ditto65 - May 31, 2012 at 6:38 PM

      It’s not all the umps. In fact, it is a minority of the umps, so it isprobably still safe to go to games.

  19. ridgeavenuehr - Jun 1, 2012 at 9:06 PM

    It’s entertainment. At least that is what players say when it is convenient for them to do stupid antics. If I were an ump, I’d be gettin’ jiggy wit it with every pitch, moon walking n’at. Maybe I’d get on MLB TV or even a commercial.

  20. jdillydawg - Jun 4, 2012 at 5:51 PM

    I would have loved to have seen the pitcher refuse to catch any ball the ump threw to him. Or even better, threw them all back and said he needed another. And another… and another, until the catcher threw one. Now that would have been hilarious.

  21. electstat - Jun 4, 2012 at 8:40 PM

    If I’m Martin, I’m letting a high fastball go right over my shoulder without putting any leather on it. If I’m the pitcher, I just let the ump throw it out and not even attempt to catch it.

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