Saturday, September 1, 2018

Pot & Kettle - Baez Criticizes West for Confrontation

After Chicago's walk-off loss in Philadelphia Friday night, Cubs infielder Javier Baez took umbrage with HP Umpire Joe West over an earlier confrontation, telling reporters, "if anybody doesn’t talk to me with respect, I won’t talk to them with respect, either." Baez and West exchanged words after a strike three call in the top of the first inning.

Baez talked respect after a run-in with West.
Following the conclusion of the contest, Baez stated that, "There’s nothing wrong with asking or talking to umpires."

Baez expressed disproval of West's attitude and said, "I'm not afraid to [tell] anybody that they're doing something wrong," while also saying of West, "When somebody does that, I can’t control my attitude."

Baez also faulted West for the verbal spat: "I didn’t say anything to him, and he came to me like I said something wrong," and added that he and West didn't say a word to each other for the rest of the night ("Good, because I don’t want to talk to him").

Baez later stated, "They need to start talking to us like humans, because they’re not."

Pitch QOC: The first-inning 3-2 pitch to Baez ruled strike three was located off the inner edge of home plate. With a px value of -1.001, the pitch was located 1.044 horizontal inches from being deemed a correct call.

Baez turns to West during the K3 call.
Postgame QOC: Is Baez's claim ("I didn't say anything to him") accurate? The video indicates that Baez turned to West and appeared to state his dissent in short order after the strike three call; due to West's protracted strike three mechanic, it appears that Baez's disagreement began even before West was done calling the out.

Gil's Call: Perhaps it falls to the category of the philosophical whether a person who says, "I can't control my attitude" should criticize another person's conduct; the issue of "when somebody does that" in this context has some mitigating value, but ultimately little bearing because the larger concept is the individual's lack of self-control. A bit of pot-calling-kettle-black mixed together with treat-others-the-way-you-wanted-to-be-treated, perhaps.

As I wrote in my umpire/referee abuse and mental health in officiating column last season, "Personal insults of an official generally have nothing to do with the official personally...The act often concerns some underlying issue within the person committing the abuse and may represent a personal struggle that person has with authority, lack of control, or accepting a result in conflict with one's own desires."
Related PostLet's Talk - Mental Health in an Abusive Environment (10/10/17).

In this case, it appears Baez's struggle concerns, per his own admission, a lack of control, that in this precise situation relates to attitude and respect ("When somebody does that, I can't control my attitude").

The underlying strike three call, combined with Baez's comments concerning attitude and respect, represents an external locus-of-control issue that sports psychologists who work with athletes are likely frothing at the mouth to get at, but in the end, the constant in Baez's comment isn't West personally. In this situation, West merely appears to be the target of Baez's projection that has a bit more of a complex history to it. For instance...

History: This isn't Baez's first run-in with the issue of respect this season. In April, Pirates Manager Clint Hurdle openly questioned Baez's "respect for the game" after a bat flip during a home run Baez hit against Pittsburgh.

Clint Hurdle called out Baez's attitude in April.
Cubs Manager Joe Maddon later praised his players for talking to Baez after the incident about the very issue of respect and attitude.

In comments at the time, Baez pointed out that another player had called him out on the purported respect or attitude issue in 2017, saying, "If anybody has any negative stuff to me, they can save it, to be honest. That's all I have to say."

Whether Freudian denial is involved at all is another issue for another time and not especially our purview or purpose. The takeaway is that whether West is involved or not—heck, whether any umpire is involved or not—the history lives up to the October 2017 article's summation that the player's own issue has spilled over into a classic blame-the-umpire narrative.
Related PostGil's Call: The Blame Game (Umpire Scapegoating) (8/8/14).

Videos as follows:
Alternate Link: After striking out looking, Baez and West exchange words (PHI)
Second Video: In his postgame interview, Javy describes his interaction with Cowboy Joe


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