Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Maddon to Morales - "I Went Too Far...I Was Wrong"

In an interview with 670 The Score, Cubs Manager Joe Maddon expressed remorse at his Labor Day ejection, admitting he "went too far" and intended to apologize to umpire Gabe Morales, who he called "really good."

Chicago's Maddon is ejected in Milwaukee.
Maddon also dismissed an earlier interview Tuesday morning on 670 featuring sportswriter Jon Heyman, who claimed that, "the umpires are not big fans of Joe Maddon. I don't know if that's out there or not, but that's the truth...they're not too thrilled with him, generally speaking."

In the hours after Heyman's striking statements, online articles began to spread with headlines such as "MLB umpires apparently hate Joe Maddon" and "MLB umpires 'not big fans' of Maddon."

Meanwhile, another article that incorrectly classified the pitch leading to ejection on Monday as a ball called a strike (it was a ball called a ball) hedged Heyman's hypothesis with the phrase, "Maddon reportedly getting a reputation."

The MLB Umpires Association responded to Heyman's allegation with a statement of its own: "MLB Umpires are entrusted with maintaining the integrity of the game. To imply we would hold a grudge against a player or manager is sheer nonsense."

Maddon responded to Heyman's conjecture-as-fact with bemusement: "I'd love to know where Jon got that information from, that's really funny." Maddon went on to say, "I actually have a great relationship with the umpires...I support the umpires as much as anybody." He concluded the interview by stating, "he's a young umpire, I think he's really good and I don't want my diatribe yesterday to impact how he feels about himself. Our game needs good umpires and he could be very good."
Related LinkMaddon's interview with 670 The Score (9/4/18...relevant comments at 4:15).

In 2010, Bob Davidson ejected Joe Maddon in Tampa Bay, and, as we found out in the comments section of The Plate Meeting Episode 1, the ensuing toe-to-toe argument was pretty much for show; in this "game within the game" sense, it might well be possible to support the umpires while having an animated argument with them.
Related PostPlate Meeting Podcast Episode 1 - Bob Davidson (7/17/18).

Maddon also is on the record, most recently, vehemently against the use of electronic ball/strike pitch calling, having previously been a proponent of the computerized strike zone.

And then there are the series of relentless blowups and post-game rants that place Maddon firmly not supportive of the umpires, as he claims.
Related Link: Close Call Sports history for label "Joe Maddon".

Regarding Monday's ejection, Maddon said, "Gabe was supposed to throw me out last night. He did what he was supposed to do," adding that, "I went too far...he was right and I was wrong and I probably should have gotten out of that argument sooner." Maddon said he planned to apologize to Morales personally, and already sent a text message to MLB Chief Baseball Officer Joe Torre explaining as much.
Related PostMLB Ejections 142-143 - Gabe Morales (1-2; CHC x2) (9/3/18).

Gil's Call: Somewhere between Heyman's "umpires are not a big fan of Joe Maddon" and Maddon's "I actually have a great relationship with the umpires" lies the truth, as competing claims tend to produce.

But more to the point, this assumes that all umpires are the same (robots, anyone?), with little variability of human emotion or free thought. While there is something to be said about "reputation" and brotherhood amongst the boys in blue (and black), there is a lesson to be learned that can be applied to other levels of baseball, and even other sports.

Maddon & West get along, yet an EJ is an EJ.
Related: Ejection - West (Maddon) (9/16).
That lesson is, perhaps, a teachable moment, that on a crew of two, three, or four, each official has a distinct set of strengths. For instance, one official on the crew may be the rules guru, another might be a premiere balk caller, and another yet might have the best relationships with a specific coach or manager.

In Theory: When it comes to the latter, for instance, an umpire with a stronger relationship with a Maddon-type character, there is no harm in using that official's strength to enhance the entire crew. Although certain actions demand immediate repercussions regardless of whose strength is what (e.g., "Gabe was supposed to throw me out last night"), there's nothing wrong with preventative officiating relative to the potential ticking time bomb managing from the dugout.

In Practice: Got a complicated play that requires crew consultation? Rules ump talks us through it and ump who has rapport with the home manager goes to explain the call to the home team. Obviously, this doesn't mean that the umpire with rapport should intercede in an argument the manager is having with another person on the crew (but this umpire *could* help peel the manager away after an ejection). Work is work and an ejection is an ejection.

All that said, there exists is an interesting cognitive disconnect when Maddon or any manager claims to be supportive of the umpires ("as much as anybody"), only to go on and do to an umpire what he did to Ryan Blakney and Chris Conroy during and after a game in 2017 (and another article after a Blakney plate game he called a "ball zone"), even when hedging it with "the guy is a good guy."
Related PostMLB Ejection 139 - Chris Conroy (3; Joe Maddon) (8/16/17).

So, where in the divide between Heyman and Maddon does the truth line exist? Depends on who you ask.


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