Friday, September 14, 2018

Odd - Harper-Diaz Feud Adds to Hallion-Frazier Mystique

HP Umpire Laz Diaz and Nationals CF Bryce Harper held an hour-long disagreement in Atlanta, the feud between official and player extending from the fifth to seventh inning during Washington's game against the Braves and involving skipper Dave Martinez in the process, as well. It was the second curious umpire-player interaction in as many days, following Tom Hallion's interesting positioning on top of home plate during a walk-off home run trot by New York's Todd Frazier on Thursday afternoon.

Bryce Harper and Laz Diaz had a spat Friday.
Diaz and Harper Carry on a Spat: In the top of the 5th inning, Harper struck out swinging after appearing to take umbrage with a first-pitch fastball Diaz had ruled a strike. The thigh-high pitch was located just off the outer edge of home plate (px -.923). Per UEFL Rule 6-2-b-1 (Kulpa Rule), the pitch would have been deemed correctly officiated had its px value been -.914 or closer to zero, which amounts to just over one-tenth of an inch into conclusively "incorrect" territory (-.923 + .914 = .009 * 12 = .108 inches).

The disagreement continued into the bottom of the 5th, when Braves batter Dansby Swanson took a 1-2 fastball outside for a called second ball (px 1.387, or about six inches off the plate) and Harper's purported discontent from his position in center field drew Diaz's attention. For what it's worth, Dansby had taken a called strike earlier in the at-bat which was similarly outside, albeit closer to home plate (the 1-0 pitch, ruled strike one, was off the outer edge of home plate by 2.664 inches; px 1.136).

It was at this time that Diaz informed Nats Manager Martinez, "He needs to cut it out, you need to talk to take care of him or I will."

Relevant History: This should remind ardent Left Field Corner-era UEFL'ers of Ed Rapuano's August 9, 2009 ejection of Shane Victorino in Philadelphia for arguing a ball call from his position in center field. As was the case with Harper's protestation of Diaz's call from the outfield, Victorino likewise was admonished by the umpire for arguing a correctly officiated pitch.
Related PostEjections: Ed Rapuano (4) (8/9/09).

Laz Diaz addresses the Nationals dugout.
In the top of the 7th inning, Diaz called strike two on a 1-2 offering to Harper, drawing further discontent and a brief delay as Martinez exited the dugout to address Diaz. More-so than the fifth inning pitch, this one was located off the plate (px -1.353), 5.268 inches from the Kulpa Rule's .914 outer mark.

Harper grounded out and the game eventually ended without further incident, but Harper let his feelings be known following Washington's loss, telling the press that Diaz made inappropriate comments during the 7th inning disruption, adding: "That's my biggest thing this year is I don't want to get tossed. So I think I go to the edge, then kinda quiet up."

Harper, who as recently as 2016 (and also 2017) was MLB's biggest hothead player, according to ejection statistics and specifically the games-per-ejection (GPE) metric, has greatly simmered down over the past year; his last ejection occurred in July 2017.
Related PostMLB Ejection 107 - Chris Segal (2; Bryce Harper) (7/26/17).
Related PostPassing the Torch - Papi Out, Harper In as Biggest Hothead (5/13/16).

Martinez's summation was more pointed as he appealed to Major League Baseball to investigate the incident:
I'm not going to make any comments on balls and strikes there, but umpires are supposed to be non-confrontational, they're supposed to uphold the peace on the baseball field...For me, I think the MLB needs to take a look at that. That's all I'm going to say. I've known Laz for a very long time, and I'm not going to throw anybody under the bus, but we're in a pivotal moment of the game, and he's saying things to Harp, and I thought that was uncalled for.
And then Martinez commented on balls and strikes: "He called a pitch on him that was pretty ridiculous, but hopefully MLB will take a look at it and decide what to do."

Hallion stands in front of Frazier in New York.
Add in a Mix of Hallion-Frazier and You've Got a Busy Two Days: If MLB does pick up the Harper-Diaz case, it would mark MLB's second investigation of a player-umpire incident in the past few days. Earlier Friday, the New York Post reported that MLB is investigating Tom Hallion's positioning during Todd Frazier's home run to end the first game of New York's doubleheader against Miami on Thursday.

This video of Frazier's walk-off HR shows Hallion standing on the third baseline side of home plate as the Mets' batsman approached home. After the game, Frazier said, "I am not looking too far into it, but at first I was just befuddled," surmising that, "There have been some quirky things going on with me and the umpires and baseballs and home plate incidents and I looked back and saw Tom and he was kind of smirking like he did something."
Related Video: Todd Frazier's walk-off HR ends with umpire obstruction at home plate (NYM)

Frazier's 2018 history includes a recent ejection care of Hallion crewmate Dan Bellino, admitting to willfully fooling 3B Umpire Mark Wegner at Dodger Stadium by pretending to catch a foul ball in the seats, and, earlier this season, calling out the entire MLB umpire staff, saying, "These umpires have got to get better."
Related PostMLB Ejection 158 - Dan Bellino (2; Todd Frazier) (9/11/18).
Related PostReplay Rewind - Hollywood Magic at Dodger Stadium (9/5/18).
Related PostTodd Frazier - "These Umpires Have Got to Get Better" (5/3/18).

Video (Diaz-Harper) as follows:
Alternate Link: Harper and Diaz carry on a disagreement for three innings (WAS)


Post a Comment