Thursday, May 31, 2012

MLB "Looking Into" Laz Diaz, Russell Martin Spat

A Major League Baseball spokesman said Thursday that the league was "looking into" a spat between umpire Laz Diaz and New York Yankees catcher Russell Martin. The spat occurred last night in Anaheim, when Diaz was behind the plate for the Yankees 6-5 victory over the Angels. Only Martin has discussed the incident and all known accounts are from him. Diaz was not able to comment because Martin had made the comments an hour after the conclusion of the game and the umpires had already left.

According to Martin, the spat began in the second inning after he and Diaz argued over the strike zone. Instead of being ejected from the game, Martin says Diaz found an unconventional way to punish him: not allowing him to throw the ball back to the pitcher after a foul ball. For this, Martin says Diaz "is a d**k. Write it hard."

Martin's account of the incident said it began with Diaz saying "that it was a privilege that I had to earn, for me to throw the ball back." Martin went on to say, "that's never happened to me before. I even told him, because there's guys on base, I like to keep my arm loose. Nope. 'I'm not letting you throw the ball back.' That's pretty strange, to me. That's a good story, huh?"

Martin went on to state that this continued into the latter portion of the game, even after getting hit in the neck. After getting hit in the neck, Martin said he told Diaz: "I'm like, 'can I throw the ball back now?' He's like still, no. I'm like, 'you're such a d**k. You're a d**k, dude. Like, for real. Unbelievable.'"

Martin said, "Now, thinking back, I should have shown him the gold Rawlings sign on my glove." Martin won the gold glove in 2007 as a member of the Los Angeles Dodgers. However, Martin did not say he should have shown him his batting average, which is currently at .187.

It is unknown how seriously the league is looking at the incident, but may include review of video and interviews with those involved. As for Martin, he says that Diaz "can hold a grudge with the best of them."

Interestingly enough, Martin walked in his first at bat in the 3rd inning (after the spat began). In fact, Martin was given a ball on the first pitch of his at bat that was within the bounds of the strike zone. In the 7th inning, Martin took a 1-1 pitch that was within the bounds of the strike zone, called for a ball. So Martin was the beneficiary of two missed pitches by Diaz, and was not at the short end of a called pitch. Pitch f/x showed that Diaz called seven pitches from Yankees pitchers that were in the bounds of the strike zone balls, while four for the Angels pitchers (statistically insignificant). Whatever argument that may have occurred, it clearly did not translate to any calls being made against the Yankees and Martin. The video, however, shows while Martin was throwing the ball back to the pitcher at the beginning of the game, Diaz was constantly throwing the ball to the pitcher later in the game after foul balls and balls in the dirt (even while Martin had his glove out for a ball).

News: Russell Martin says he had odd run-in

44 comments :

UmpsRule said...

And of course, despite the fact that Diaz has not even commented on the situation yet, he has been practically executed in the court of public opinion. The majority of the media is a joke.

Anonymous said...

I don;t see what was wrong with what Diaz did. Martin should be lucky he wasn't ejected for arguing balls and strikes. I don't understand him whining about something this insignificant. You wil see the likes of Doug Eddings, Eric Cooper, Jerry Meals, Dan Bellino and others always throw the ball back to the pitcher and never letting the Catcher do it. It is just not a big deal IMO. What could the MLB possibly do to Diaz here? Maybe not assign him to any Yankees games but that seems silly and unrealistic.

Curt Crowley said...

UmpsRule, agreed that we should wait for Diaz's side before passing judgment. However, that story seems to fall under the "too ridiculous to make up" category.

Anon 9:50, of course it's a big deal. If Diaz refused to let Martin throw the ball and told him it was because he hadn't "earned the privilege," then Diaz was simply antagonizing Martin. If true, Diaz was being obtuse just to be obtuse. An umpire cannot intentionally create a situation that causes a player to blow up, then get offended when he gets a face full of Red Man.

Anonymous said...

Didn't Schrieber eject Martin for something stupid like this last year?

NKCAUmp said...

I chalk it up to an awesome way to get under someone's skin.

Gil Imber said...

Yes, Ejections: Paul Schrieber (2) features an ejection of Martin for arguing balls and strikes.

I wrote about this incident, describing Schrieber-Martin as an instance of a player baiting an umpire into a poor perception ejection.

Apparently, we have a track record for this particular player.

Anonymous said...

The only thing that makes me uncomfortable about this story is looking back on all the d1ckhead catchers I could have done this to. Catchers can be real unrelenting jerks sometimes, and Martin is obviously one of them.

Anonymous said...

Missed calls are one thing. But intentionally antagonizing players just because you can is unacceptable. Just about every person has been in a situation where they've been bullied by an obnoxious boss, teacher, etc. and have felt powerless to do anything about it, so when fans hear about an incident like this one with Laz Diaz, it conjures up fresh memories of that feeling of powerlessness and they react very strongly. MLB probably won't comment on this situation publicly. But I wish they would. A short, simple statement like, "We have looked into this and found nothing wrong" or "We do not approve of Mr. Diaz's actions and as such we will be reinstructing/fining/suspending him" would go a long way to combating the public perception that MLB umpires are accountable to no one.

Anonymous said...

MLB needs an Appeals Board.

Anonymous said...

Martin has gotten ejected at least 4 times to my knowledge and maybe more. He was thrown out by Dan Iassogna in 2007. He was also ejected twice in 2010, once by Jim Reynolds and the other by Chris Guccione and then of course last year he was tossed by Paul Schreiber. He has a track record of being a crybaby and he is showing it here. Maybe he is taking his .187 BA out on the Umpire.

Anonymous said...

Some people are missing the part where Martin said Diaz did this because he was arguing balls and strikes. Last time I checked the rule book, that is an ejectable offense. I have a feeling stuff like this happens more than is reported. Like I said earlier, Martin should sit down shut up and be lucky he wasn't ejected for arguing balls and strikes.

Anonymous said...

Russell Martin's stike zone when he bats just got real wide.

Anonymous said...

Diaz also made a bad call On the arod check swing. It looked like he did not swing but Diaz said he did during that game in the first inning

ColonelTom said...

If true, I don't like Diaz's "creative" solution for a difficult catcher.

Martin doesn't help himself, though. Looking at the 4th inning of that game, his pitcher gets a close call on a borderline low-and-outside strike to Kendrys Morales. Next pitch is a bit higher and further inside, and it's called a ball - Martin leaves the glove there for almost a full second after the call. Later in the inning, the first pitch to Erick Aybar is called low, and Martin turns his head halfway around and gets into it with Diaz for long enough that Aybar looks back like, "Can we get this show on the road?"

Martin's supposed to be a steady veteran presence out there with a young pitcher (Ivan Nova). Instead, he's messing with the guy's rhythm and probably costing him a few close calls. This would make a great "how not to win friends and influence umpires" video for young catchers.

Anonymous said...

"I even told him, because there's guys on base, I like to keep my arm loose."

Huh? Martin needs those throws to keep his arm loose? What about the hundred or so pitches that are not fouled off or put into play? Those tosses back to pitcher are not enough to keep his arm loose?

As Bugs Bunny would say, "What a maroon!"

Will said...

Sounds like Diaz was upset but thought it would be a weak ejection, so he took the "option" of throwing the ball back himself. A smart catcher takes that and closes his mouth and faces forward. For the sake of his pitcher and his team. A not so smart catcher gets grumpy about being let off the hook...

Anonymous said...

Martin still isnt as big of prick as Molina.

Anonymous said...

Martin should have asked the pitcher to refuse to catch the umpire's throw. Just let it fly by.

Brett said...

What is MLB going to look at exactly? As an umpire, I have control of the game. End of story. You show me up, you pay consequences. Martin's consequence seems to fit the bill here. If you are going whine like a little punk, I will treat you like a little punk. I love for catchers to talk to me. I like being on good terms with catchers because they protect me but I am not afraid to let the catcher know my displeasure with his attempt to argue balls and strikes. There are several ways to circumvent this and Laz took advantage of one of those. There is absolutely nothing to this. Russell Martin needs to realize that he has not won a gold glove in 5 years and could not hit sand if he fell off a camel right now and that being a Yankee does not mean that you get to cry about the umpire mistreating you. Laz should of dumped him in a fantastic manner. For the record, I normally throw out the ball on passed balls, foul balls, etc. Makes me feel like part of the game. Just a personal preference.

Anonymous said...

Agreed with Brett, very well put. I am one of the easiest guys to get along with out there. I will happily answer any question you have for me, even if it means I end up telling you I think I missed a pitch, unless you want to be a dick about it. Asking if a pitch was in the strike zone or a little outside after you swing and miss, moving over one step to the left if a shortstop requests it and, although I've never thought of this until now, throwing the ball back to the pitcher are not "rights" in this game. If you treat me with respect, I will, in turn, treat you the same. If you are a non-stop dick and would like to know if I would have called that pitch a strike if you would have not swung at it, that is a "privilege that you have to earn" as Laz puts it. If Laz ejected Martin in the first place, and it would have been justified from reading Martin's own quotes, this message board would be lit up about how fast of an ejection it was and Martin would have criticized Laz for that as well. Laz avoided an ejection in a unique way, that's the simple lesson to this. You can agree with it, disagree with it, but he ended up with zero ejections and still handled his business.

Anonymous said...

I don't understand Martin'e gripe. Laz obviously perceived disrespect due to arguing calls. He probably felt, ok, I'm supposed to ignore that chatter and let you stay in the game. You want me to ignore you, fine, I'll ignore you and your request to toss the ball back. You want to do that you will need to earn it by keeping your mouth shut. The old Marine came out in him.

UmpsRule said...

Jeff Nelson just ejected Tom Brookens.

Jon Terry said...

Beat me to it. Stupid computer.

Looks like Brookens came out in the top of the second to argue a call from the top of the first. Pretty peaceful conversation, and no hook on camera.

Anonymous said...

Ground out was called but replay showed the runner beat the throw. First base coach told the umpire the replay showed he missed it. He was invited to watch the rest of the game on that same TV

Anonymous said...

jeff nelson just heaved 1B coach tom brookens in the tigers-red sox game.

Jon Terry said...

Brookens video is up already. There was no hook on camera on the Red Sox feed on MLB Network, but the Tigers feed showed a replay. Tigers commentators also didn't seem to understand why, though Red Sox commentators did.

UmpsRule said...

Brookens video was likely up quicker because there is less action today.

Curt Crowley said...

Brett, what MLB can and should review is whether Diaz engaged in behavior designed to antagonize Martin.

While you may have control of the game, the rules do not contemplate you being a tool to punish a player. If a player is doing something you don't like, your options are (1) eject him or (2) get over it.

The informal disciplinary methods you mentioned are not allowed by the rules or any standards of professional conduct. It is quite shocking you would admit to such dishonorable behavior. The fact that you boast about it shows that leagues are abysmal in holding unfit umpires accountable.

Want to know why umpires are held in such low regard? This is it. A player or manager antagonizes an umpire and he gets tossed/suspended. An umpire intentionally antagonizes a player or manager, and he is too special to even be questioned by league officials?? Seriously?

The fact is that this is the only venue in the world where people like Diaz would attempt to bully people like Martin. And no one likes a bully. THAT is MLB umpires' PR problem.

Brett said...

so you mean to tell me that because I throw the ball out to the pitcher, I am antagonizing the catcher? The relationship between catcher and plate umpire is give and take. Martin gave more than he was willing to take. If Laz had ejected him, everyone would be crucifying him for ejecting him like they did with the Wieters ejection. Understanding the game helps in this situation. If I know a player likes to throw the ball back, maybe I change my style for the game and throw it back myself. I do not answer to players. I say the PR problem is no one actually cares about what the umpires have to say. The is a broad mischaracterization of umpires from the MLB level right down to your local recreational leagues. Broadcasters at the pro level and college level along with parents at the high school and recreational level feel as though they can say anything about an umpire and it should be held as truth. Take a moment and talk to an umpire. You will realize we do not like these situations any more than fans or broadcasters but we deal with it because it is our job. I fail to see how throwing the ball out is bullying? Note that there are 3 things you cannot argue in baseball, balls and strikes being one of them. You talk about dishonorable behavior of an umpire, but I assume that you think what Martin did was ok. There are many times where a player or coach antagonizes me but I do not dump him because it does not serve a purpose. I would rather him be fuming the whole time than allow the scene to change the game. You have to realize that it is all give and take. Players, managers, broadcasters, and fans do not understand this. They want to give, give give, but are astonished when the consequences are heaped on them. Then they whine to the media about how they were mistreated. I do not buy it. These players are paid millions of dollars a year to play a child's game and we should just allow them to talk to an umpire who does not even make what the league minimum for rookies would be. That seems fair. Like I explained to someone on a high school message board, let's just let catcher's call balls and strikes, 1st basemen call whackers at 1st, and outfielders call shoestring catches. That should make everyone happy. As an umpire, it is not my job for everyone to be happy. It is my job to make calls that no one else wants to make. I do this knowing that I am hated 100% of the time by 50% of the people. Never should a player be allowed to control a game, especially a guy that could hit his way out of a wet paper bag right now. If he is frustrated with his performance, do something about it. That something should not be to abuse the relationship with an umpire. Like @Anon 3:38 says, treat me respectfully, I treat you respectfully. It is a 2-way street, not 1-way like most think.

Anonymous said...

Yea schrieber did eject him last year against the rays 9/27/11 As for laz diaz and martin spat, im a die hard yankee fan and i didn't see anything wrong, yet we all didn't hear what happend in the game, only the ump and catcher can exchange words cuz their both togther at home plate, interesting to see when diaz and martin meet up again, maybe red sox and yankees game haha that would be funny. Oh as for the umpires, u will never see them accountable for everything, expect bob davidson, he been actually quite lately after mlb handed him a suspension, please do that to marty foster i know for a fact he will be in the news again before the season ends.

Big Marc said...

@Brett,

Nobody is more pro umpire than me.

I highly doubt any of the story about Laz.

Just because a player loses his integrity, doesn't give the umpire the right to punish players outside of the rule book.
After a player tells us we are horse shit, of course we would like to fire back with the line, "kiss my ass, you buck twenty five hitter", but we can't.

The reason I do not, and will not believe this story until Laz says something, is because Laz could have ejected the player and been done with it.

Anonymous said...

Anon 3:38 here, once again in Brett's corner. CURT, is this a serious post? If he was throwing the ball back himself to antagonize the catcher or bait him, then he would ejected Martin the second he called Laz a dick (that is from Martin's own quote from the situation... he actually quoted an objectionable offense to the media... that is the kind of guy you're dealing with here). You don't get certain luxuries if you're a dick, Laz decided this was one of them. I've never heard of it before but it was inventive and AVOIDED an ejection. I also would not do it because around the 7th inning my throws start to one-hop the pitcher. And btw Curt, the only people that hold umpires in low regard are people like yourself who don't have enough knowledge of the game to lend a real opinion (the real game, not the one you think you see every bit of on TV). They are the same people that are criticizing Laz for this, and would be doing the same thing if Laz had ejected him, just finding a different reason for criticizing. And those people are a lost cause, so we could care less. Congrats, you are the 99%.

Anonymous said...

Brett, you sound like one who shows up players regularly. "Show me up, you pay" really?

Brett said...

@ Big Marc, I totally agree. Have always loved Laz. The story holds no water for me because a player is whining about not throwing the ball back. No rule or procedure stating that he gets to do that.

@Anon 12:55, Thanks for all support. I appreciate anyone who is a student of the game as I am.

@Anon 4:12 am, I do not need to show up players. Situations can usually be handled with simple directives between umpire and offending players. Most of the time, you have no need for it to go any further. As long as the catcher does not turn an jaw at me, I will most of what he says go. In a good give and take, catcher will ask pitch locations to make sure he is on the same page I am. I think you take the "you pay" comment a little to literally. By pay, I mean the dynamic changes between umpire and player. Some of the banter goes away, I answer less of the pitch location questions or in a different manner, such as "You know where the pitch was instead of I had it outside.", and maybe change my routine regrading putting a new ball in play or how I break up mound visits, etc. You never have to be unprofessional to get your point across, most respectful players or coaches get that. I have to earn their respect as much as they earn mine. Nothing better than walking off a field and the losing 1st base coach saying I had the most consistent strike zone he had seen all year and I felt like I missed maybe 8-10 pitches as I did not see the ball well that night, or a pitcher telling me not to worry about missing a clear strike because I was in pain. It is a give and take. You have to be able to both, much like winning and losing, struggling and excelling. This has more to do with Russell Martin not playing well as it does with Laz's strike zone. I like what he did as he broke no procedure but refused to engage Martin in his childish argument, instead choosing to change things up and make a point.

Anonymous said...

It's like a "time out" instead of a spanking.

Brett said...

@Anon 6:34, I guess you could look at that way. I find it easier to take care of an issue without interrupting the flow of the game. You have to get creative sometimes especially at lower levels where you need to keep coaches and players in the game.

Curt Crowley said...

Brett, I would wholeheartedly agree with your very reasonable analysis IF this complaint was based solely on not letting the catcher make the throw. If that was all that happened, this would be a non-story.

The antagonizing part is the statement Diaz allegedly made to Martin. Diaz allegedly told Martin that he would not allow him to throw the ball back because that was a privilege Martin had to earn. In other words, Diaz will let other catchers throw the ball back, but Martin isn't worthy. That type of statement is almost guaranteed to provoke a response from even the nicest players. Diaz's problem here is not necessarily his actions. It's his mouth.

And again, this assumes Martin is telling the truth about the incident.

Brett said...

Yeah, I tend not to just assume things as that would make an a** out of you and me. Everyone keeps commenting on what Laz said but it is ok for Martin to say whatever he wants without some consequence? If you give me a hard time, why should I be able to give you a hard time. I guess that because he plays for the Yankees now and won 1 gold glove half a decade ago, his behavior should be excused. Umpires are continually treated like crap by these guys but they should just take it. I do not agree with that. This is solely a situation of someone who is taking personal performance frustration out by calling out an umpire for not treating him like royalty. he should have been ejected but if that had happened everyone would have been on Laz's back then as well. There is nothing in any umpire manual I have ever read that said the catcher has the right to throw the ball back to the pitcher. It is part of a traditional relationship between umpire and catcher. Martin violated this by taking public what happened instead of manning up like every seems to think that Laz should have done. I do not buy it. There are many things that happen on the field that fans and media are unaware of and have no business trying to regulate it. Until you start paying umpire salaries like players, no one can talk about standards for professional conduct. How unprofessional was Martin in this situation, yet everyone here is shifting it to Laz. Look at both sides. He is supposed to be a role model and he is teaching kids that it is ok to mistreat an umpire. Martin is just like an adult just like Laz and sometimes you must take your lumps when you act like a child which is exactly what Martin did. No use for crybabies playing the game.

Anonymous said...

Players and coaches are treated like crap left and right by the umpires! Brett, open your eyes!

UmpsRule said...

Umpires are treated like crap left and right by the players, coaches, managers, media, internet commenters, etc. 99% of baseball fans, open your eyes!

Jon Terry said...

I agree that the problem here is Russell Martin. First, Martin opens his mouth about balls and strikes, probably multiple times. Then, Martin makes a show on the field. If he had just said 'ok' when Laz told him what was going on, then no one would have known anything was up. But he created a situation where a reporter probably asked him. Then he told a sob story to the media to make an umpire look bad.

Yes, Laz probably could have been a little more subtle. "Sorry kid, I feel like throwing tonight. Maybe next time." But then Martin might not have been bright enough to know he was being chastised. Maybe next time Laz will just dump him and be done with it.

As for the rest of us . . . When I call anyone under high school, I usually take my issue to the coach. They are generally smart enough to realize they want to keep the player, and put their foot down. Just last weekend I told a coach, "Tell your #3 batter to keep his comments to himself." Coach asked for no explanation, and I never heard another word. At higher levels, I'll deal with it myself, but I'll also tell the coach, because in the long run discipline is their domain.

And you can bet that I throw the ball to the pitcher whenever I feel like it, with no eplanation!

UmpsRule said...

When a player mouths off like this to the media, he should be heaved from every game in which he argues for the rest of the year.

Big Marc said...

I will add, what probably happened was Laz was doing "something" out of the norm. Something maybe he had done before. Something Laz himself thought was inside the history of the game, and maybe he was told this as a story when he was young.
So Laz, decideds he'll try it, Laz is convinced it's part of the history of the game.
From Martin's side, he's never seen an umpire do whatever Laz did, and Martin is totally conviced that Laz is way out of line. Martin has no concept of the history of the game, or knowledge of this thing Laz has done.

So, in the interview Martin lies, he embelishes his story, he thinks Laz was out of line, and wants people to be on his side.

Something happened, I don't think we have the full story.
Laz will never explain how the shaft works, maybe some of you have never herd of the "shaft"?

To me, Laz was doing the umpire version of bench jockeying, and the baby Martin couldn't take it. Laz should have known this, players can be mental midgets.
However, if the players want to bench jockey, umpires should NOT have rabbit ears. Wish I could spell pathetic, I'd end with that!

Anonymous said...

Full Story; Martin asked about a pitch 1st or 2nd inning and was told it was a ball. Later in the game he asked about a pitch that was low. After he threw the ball back, he squatting down saying "That's a f...king strike!" Since he really didn't say anything to eject himself from the game, Laz didn't eject him or responded to his comment. That is when Laz decided not to let him throw it back. But, he was throwing it back after every pitch he caught. This was an in house situation between Martin and Laz and no one but them knew what was going on. In the 9th after getting hit in the throat, Martin asked if he can now throw the ball back, thinking Laz would probably feel sorry for him getting hit. Laz said no to him again. He never said "What a d..k!" out loud or else I'm sure Laz would have ejected him right away. As the game continued, Laz told Martin "that it is a courtesy that the umps five them to throw the ball back and that its a privilege that he has to earn!" No one knew about this situation until Martin made a "Big Deal!" out of it. Martin stop being such a baby, maybe you he should have shown Laz his Gold Glove patch, then Laz could have shown Martin his World Series Ring!

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