Russell Martin Figured Out Laz Diaz
Officiating can be a difficult profession. It’s a thankless job and one that EVERYBODY thinks they can do better. No matter how fairly you try and call a game, one side is always going to end up disappointed with the calls that didn’t fall their way. Nowhere is that more true than in baseball, especially for a home-plate umpire. Calling balls and strikes can be incredibly stressful with the naturally arbitrary nature of the “strike zone” combined with pitches coming in at over 90 mph, so it’s pretty common for people to get bent out of shape over the calls of balls and strikes. Every home plate ump has to deal with it in their own way, though. For umpire Laz Diaz, his way is to be a dick.
New York Yankees catcher Russell Martin said plate umpire Laz Diaz decided on an unusual way to punish him for arguing balls and strikes.
Martin said Diaz wouldn’t allow him to throw new baseballs back to his pitchers after fouls during New York’s 6-5 win over the Los Angeles Angels on Wednesday night.
“Laz Diaz is a d—. Write it hard,” Martin shouted as he came into the clubhouse.
That is a pretty spot-on character summary.
Martin says that Diaz refused to allow Martin to throw new balls back to his pitcher becuase that “was a privilege” that Martin had to earn. The seven-year veteran and three-time All Star was pretty surprised at that, since you don’t expect that kind of behavior from someone who isn’t seven years old. Even after Russell explained that he liked to throw back to keep his arm loose with runners on base, he was rebuffed with a simple “nope,” like it was the rational and adult-like thing to do.
The “punishment” stemmed from an early heated exchange the two had debating Diaz’s strike zone.
“I think it happened in the second inning or something,” Martin said at his locker after the game. “And then even at the end of the game, after I got hit in the neck, I’m like, ‘can I throw the ball back now?’ He’s like still, no. I’m like, ‘you’re such a d—. You’re a d—, dude. Like, for real. Unbelievable.’ “
There really isn’t a better word to describe Diaz’s behavior. Has anyone had such little power inflace their heads so much? I mean, it’s not a huge thing throwing new balls back to the pitcher. It’s a nice way for catchers to keep warm during an inning, but it isn’t some huge responsibility or privilege, and Diaz is treating it like a father taking away his son’s driving priveleges. Two problems, though, with that: first, this isn’t about the family sedan. Second, and most importantly, Russell Martin is a fellow adult, not some punk teenager, interacting with you in your place of work. Be an adult, for crying out loud.
This issue seems to be indicative of a bigger problem in baseball: umpires and a bloated sense of self-importance. Baseball has long upheld the “sanctity” of umpiring, limiting criticism of them in the media, giving them authoritative power to eject anybody they want for any reason they choose. In the case that an umpire is reprimanded by the league, good luck finding out about it, because those proceedings, along with any punishment or penalties, is kept secret. Want to know why there isn’t expanded replay in baseball besides Bud Selig’s old-man vendetta against new-fangled whoozawatsits? Protecting the umpires from being corrected when they make mistakes.
Umpires in baseball hold probably the most sway over the outcome of a game of any official in most any sport. So for one of these gentleman, who are paid to be unbiased judges of the game, to lay a petty and childish “punishment” on a player for an entire game like Laz Diaz did is unexcusable and beyond a doubt a dick move. So congratulations, Russell Martin, on accurately describing Diaz…I hope the satisfaction of being right keeps you warm during your upcoming suspension.