Saturday, July 13, 2019

Chavez Taunts Ump Drake with Glasses Gesture

Make no mistake about it, when Rangers pitcher Jesse Chavez took his glasses off after the final out of the 2nd inning and motioned toward HP Umpire Rob Drake—and then confirmed his intention via postgame comments—he joined a long list of players who have disrespected officials during and after gameplay out of frustration with a close call that didn't go their way.

Said Chavez of his no-look glasses offering, "I thought he needed them. I don't think it was his prescription, though. He needed to be a little better." According to various media at the game, Drake and Rangers personnel, including Manager Chris Woodward, exchanged words, but no ejections occurred.

Gil's Call: It's an age-old tradition of playing the blame game via projection, which is a Level 2 (immature) defense mechanism, and a little displacement, a Level 3 (neurotic) one. Is it ejectable? Yes. Is it personal? Yes and no - it's a personal insult through an unsportsmanlike gesture intended to ridicule, which is grounds for dismissal, but like most players who whine, I doubt Chavez knows anything about who Rob Drake is.
Related PostGil's Call: The Blame Game (Umpire Scapegoating) (8/8/14).
Related PostTop 10 MLB Hothead Players by Ejection Frequency (2/28/19).

Summation: The player isn't happy with himself and is taking it out on the umpire. For the sake of context, after walking Alvarez, Chavez surrendered a two-run home run to Yuli Gurriel, which at the time gave Houston a 2-1 lead, as opposed to a Rangers 1-0 lead.

This entire situation in Chavez walking off the mound nonchalantly flashing his glasses behind him while looking straight toward his dugout could have been much ado about nothing, but instead, Chavez decided to double down on his earlier act, transforming what could have been a passive aggressive footnote into a full-blown blame-the-umpire critique.

Is Chavez's action and post-game double-down an appropriate response to an umpire's purported mistake (that the statistics don't conclusively indicate was a mistake to begin with)?

Trout calmly talked it out with umpire Rehak.
For the sake of perspective, here's Mike Trout striking out care of three strike calls (two borderline and one conclusively off the plate) by HP Umpire Jeremie Rehak in June this season. While Manager Brad Ausmus was ejected arguing Rehak's calls well after the fact, Trout handled his looking strikeout—not one, two, but all three called strikes, including one conclusively incorrect call (the strike three call)—by speaking briefly with Rehak before returning to the dugout and moving on with his game.

Although Trout's body language indicated disagreement during the at-bat, there was no shouting, gesturing, or offering eyeglasses to an umpire; after striking out, Trout didn't show anyone up and instead talked it over with the umpire and walked away without much fanfare (until Ausmus' ejection an inning later).
Related PostMLB Ejection 077 - Jeremie Rehak (4; Brad Ausmus) (6/9/19).

Projection is a common defense mechanism.
While some players face adversity with understanding and sublimation (the Level 4 "mature" mechanisms; here's where the aforementioned Trout story comes in), others take to tearing others down to detract from one's own unacceptable thoughts (the Level 2 "immature" mechanisms; here's where we use Bryce Harper and the MLB list of Hotheads as an example).

Back in 2014, I wrote the following about this time-honored blaming-the-umpire tradition, which applies to Chavez's postgame comments as well:
When the subject says, “I don’t trust umpires' judgment,” the subject really means, “I don’t trust my own judgment.” Accordingly, "I don't trust [class of people]" becomes "I don't trust myself." We mask with projection because of a conditioned response to preserve our sense of self and internalized paradigm, even when our paradigm is inherently inaccurate, outdated or harmful.
For what it's worth, Drake's UEFL-f/x plate score Friday night was 97.6% (163-of-167), with a skew of +0 (neutral). Chavez finished with 5.1 innings pitched, allowing seven runs and three HR. Who statistically had the better/worse game?

TrackMan has disagreed with ball graphics.
As for Chavez's specific frustration in walking Yordan Alvarez, replays indicate Drake called two pitches in the borderline range during the at-bat; that's not the umpire's doing—borderline pitches happen regardless of who's behind the plate. With a zero-margin of error, the computer would have balled one (0-0) and struck the other (2-2), but that, again, assumes a zero margin of error, which MLB behind closed doors has all but refused to submit to.

And which we know by now is especially unrealistic. Maybe Chavez would prefer the TrackMan automated system, which has been notoriously pitcher-unfriendly in its short life.
Related PostHistory - Baseball's First Ejection Due to TrackMan (7/13/19).
Related Label/TopicComputer Strike Zone.

Chavez wrapped up his comments with, "I hope I get to take out the lineup card [Saturday]."

Unfortunately for Chavez, Drake flew to San Diego after Friday's game in order to fill in for the ailing Dana DeMuth, who took a foul ball off the arm Friday night.
Related PostInjury Scout - DeMuth Out Early After Foul to Arm (7/12/19).

Video Link: Chavez nonchalantly offers glasses to Drake (TEX)


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