Frustration with MLB umpires growing again after series of heated confrontations

It seems every season there's a point where frustration with umpires starts to boil over.

We might have already reached that point this season following a series of heated confrontations that culminated with members of the Washington Nationals and San Francisco Giants calling out the umpiring crew from their series.

Specifically, Nationals manager Davey Martinez said he felt disrespected by Wednesday's home plate umpire Tony Randazzo after disagreeing with his strike zone.

Arguing over balls and strikes is something the umpires are not supposed to tolerate. However, Martinez felt Randazzo went overboard and escalated the confrontation by approaching Washington's dugout.

Via MASN Sports:

“I was in the dugout,” Martinez said. “I said, ‘Hey, let’s go. You gotta be better than that.’ I didn’t cuss. I didn’t say much other than, ‘Let’s go.’ And what really irritated me was him putting his hand up in my face pretty much.”

“So I can tolerate a lot of things,” Martinez said. “Don’t do that. I have a lot of respect for umpires - everybody knows that. I typically don’t complain too much about them. But you know him walking towards our dugout when I’m in the dugout, I hope the league looks at that because like I said, I didn’t say much to really get tossed. But he felt like I said enough.”

 

Less than 24 hours later, it was Brandon Belt’s turn to sound off.

The Giants first baseman was ejected after blowing up at home plate umpire Ryan Additon during the seventh inning of a 4-2 loss to Washington.

It was the culmination of a frustrating day for Belt and the Giants.

Two innings earlier, manager Bruce Bochy was also ejected following a disputed called third strike to Belt.

After the game, Belt said something had to be done about the inconsistency of the umpires.

Weekend blowups

The Giants-Nationals series comes on the heels of a contentious weekend between the players and umpires.

Nolan Arenado of the Colorado Rockies and Kyle Schwarber of the Chicago Cubs notably took out their frustration on the umpires following questionable calls.

In the case of Schwarber, he had to be restrained from getting in the face of umpire Gabe Morales after a check-swing call ended a Cubs loss to the Los Angeles Angels.

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Confrontations between players, MLB umpires in 2019
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Confrontations between players, MLB umpires in 2019
SAN FRANCISCO, CA - APRIL 13: Nolan Arenado #28 of the Colorado Rockies argues with home plate umpire D.J. Reyburn #17 after Arenado was called out on strikes against the San Francisco Giants in the top of the six inning of a Major League Baseball game at Oracle Park on April 13, 2019 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 18: Brandon Belt #9 of the San Francisco Giants is restrained by first base coach Jose Alguacil #17 and bench coach Hensley Meulens #31 after being ejected by home plate umpire Mike Everitt #57 in the seventh inning at Nationals Park on April 18, 2019 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 18: Brandon Belt #9 of the San Francisco Giants reacts after being ejected by home plate umpire Mike Everitt #57 in the seventh inning against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park on April 18, 2019 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - APRIL 13: Kyle Schwarber #12 of the Chicago Cubs is restrained by Javier Baez #9 after being called out by the third base umpire during the ninth inning of a game against the Los Angeles Angels at Wrigley Field on April 13, 2019 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - APRIL 13: Kyle Schwarber #12 of the Chicago Cubs is restrained by Javier Baez #9 after being called out by the third base umpire during the ninth inning of a game against the Los Angeles Angels at Wrigley Field on April 13, 2019 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 18: Manager Bruce Bochy #15 of the San Francisco Giants argues with home plate umpire Ryan Additon #67 after being ejected in the fifth inning against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park on April 18, 2019 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)
Los Angeles Angels first baseman Justin Bour, center, argues a called third strike with umpire Jeremie Rehak, as Texas Rangers catcher Isiah Kiner-Falefa, left, throws the ball back, during the ninth inning of a baseball game Wednesday, April 17, 2019, in Arlington, Texas. Bour was ejected. The Rangers won 5-4. (AP Photo/Michael Ainsworth)
ARLINGTON, TEXAS - APRIL 17: Justin Bour #41 of the Los Angeles Angels gets ejected from the game by home plate umpire Jeremie Rehak in the ninth inning against the Texas Rangers at Globe Life Park in Arlington on April 17, 2019 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Richard Rodriguez/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 13: Milwaukee Brewers catcher Yasmani Grandal (10) argues with home plate umpire Jeremie Rehak (35) during a MLB game between the Milwaukee Brewers and the Los Angeles Dodgers on April 13, 2019 at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, CA. (Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
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Via NBC Sports Chicago:

"I took a look at [the replay] and if I didn't go the first time, I didn't go the second time," Schwarber said, referencing an earlier check-swing call in the at-bat where Morales said he did not go around. "If you're not 100 percent sure, you can't call it. Obviously I was frustrated. Who's not gonna be frustrated when they end the game like that and you're that close to sniffing out a run? Frustrating. I just don't think that it was a good call.”

The inconsistency had manager Joe Maddon calling for the robots.

"Everybody's worried about electronic strike zone," the Cubs skipper said. "I want an electronic method to control check swings. That would be much more interesting and I would prefer that. Let the umpires call the game like they always do. Let's figure out a way to control check swings."

Will it blow over?

More than likely it will. However, we should remember we’re just two years removed from things getting quite tense between the players, umpires and the league itself.

In August 2017, the umpires took to wearing white wristbands in solidarity after the league didn’t suspend Ian Kinsler after he suggested umpire Angel Hernandez find a new line of work.

We haven’t reached that point, but the aggressive actions and tone used by the players certainly won’t ease tensions, either. We’ll just say we’re not off to a harmonious start and leave it at that for now.

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