The Washington Nationals are all but done this season. At 74-74, they have a 0.1% chance to make the playoffs according to ESPN. But on Friday night, Bryce Harper would get into with umpire Laz Díaz. Over what, you ask? Balls and strikes, of course. But even we think this is acceptable to argue against. Here’s the “strike” in question:
Pitch No. 4 here was called a strike on Bryce Harper by home plate ump Laz Diaz, leading to a bit more chatter between them: pic.twitter.com/AkUBxn6wv1
— federalbaseball (@federalbaseball) September 15, 2018
In a word: yikes.
After that inning, Harper and Díaz kept chirping at each other despite the fact that Harper was back in the outfield by this point. Then in the seventh, Harper argued another strike call without even looking Díaz in the eye — staring straight ahead the whole time. That’s when manager Dave Martinez came out to support his player. And he doesn’t think Díaz did a good job of de-escalating the situation.
“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,” he said via ESPN following the game. “For me, I think the MLB needs to take a look at that. That’s all I’m going to say…”
Whenever these things happen, people pile on. Especially the umpires. But if there’s no accountability, what do you expect? If that’s a strike, players will get upset — and rightfully so. Until there is more accountability amongst umpires, we need to keep hearing about these incidents.
Robot umps aren’t coming anytime soon, but there are other things MLB can look at. Umpires being better able to de-escalate a situation is one of them. Will they take action. We’ll have to wait and see.