MIAMI — Francisco Cervelli was ejected tonight in the third inning after arguing a called ball with umpire Alan Porter. I’ll admit that I had to take a second there to look up who exactly the home plate umpire was. And even then, I don’t know who Alan Porter is. The reason for this? I shouldn’t know who he is, and I shouldn’t have any reason to look up the home plate umpire.
Meanwhile, Cervelli has been one of the best catchers in baseball this year. He’s been a huge replacement for Russell Martin, and outside of some stolen base issues (which are mostly on the pitcher), has been strong defensively.
Cervelli wasn’t exactly innocent in this. He got up and argued with the umpire. But we also shouldn’t ever see situations where an umpire who should have no added impact on the game, outside of calling the game, tosses a key player from the game so quickly.
The graph below shows the call that Cervelli was thrown out on. It’s pitch number two on the bottom graph. For emphasis, look at the third pitch on the top graph. That was Cervelli’s at-bat in the top of the third inning, which happened right before the at-bat from Mathis. The pitch against Cervelli was called a strike, and the pitch against Mathis — which was actually a strike this time — was called a ball.
After the game, Cervelli said that he wasn’t thinking about his at-bat, and didn’t say anything during his at-bat. He didn’t give much detail on the interaction when he got thrown out, except to say that he didn’t like the umpire’s tone, which led to him getting angry.
“I just didn’t like the way he talked to me, and then I turned around and that’s it, I got thrown out,” Cervelli said. He added that he shouldn’t have turned around, but didn’t like when people talked to him that way, noting that the umpire told him “just turn around I throw you out.”
Clint Hurdle didn’t comment on the situation in much detail.
“Alan I think shared his comments and took Cervelli in a wrong direction,” Hurdle said. “It was a quick hook again. That’s all I have to say.”
Once again, Cervelli wasn’t innocent, and he probably won’t react the same way next time.
“Next time I’m going to try to handle it a different way, because I’ve got to stay in the game,” Cervelli said.
But here’s the thing. Cervelli shouldn’t be in that situation anyway. He had a legitimate argument that the umpire made a bad call. And this all came after he called a strike the previous inning on a pitch that was even more outside the zone.
This all leads to a bigger issue, which is that umpires are no longer needed for balls and strikes. We have the technology now to call balls and strikes with accuracy, instantly. There’s no need to keep sending out different umpires each night, all with different interpretations of the strike zone, to get calls wrong every inning.
Not only would this entire situation have been avoided with robot umpires, but every strike zone call tonight would have been correct, with no added time to get this result.
Sure, “robot umpires” sounds like a joke. But it’s not nearly as big of a joke as saying that the league has a “strike zone”, then watching different umpires call that strike zone in different ways from each other, and even call it in different ways during the same game. That’s the big joke here. Players and managers get thrown out for getting upset over this joke, while there are seemingly no repercussions for umpires. It’s time for MLB to act in a big way, remove the “human element” from strike zone calls, and fix this glaring issue.
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**I hope you enjoyed my live coverage from Miami this week. I’m going home tomorrow, taking the weekend off to celebrate my birthday, covering some Marauders games next week, then getting back on the road next weekend to cover the Pirates/Cardinals series.
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**Cole Dominates, Hurdle Makes Right Call on Alvarez in Pirates 2-1 Win. My game story from Miami tonight, focusing on Gerrit Cole turning things around the last two starts, and the recent success from Pedro Alvarez against lefties.
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**Pirates Notes: Glasnow, Diaz, Kang, Alvarez, Rotation Shuffle, Steals, Dancing. The pre-game notes. If you’re expecting Glasnow up anytime soon, don’t. Hurdle mentioned that they’ll get him a few more starts, and then playoff experience. And I really don’t see him coming up at all this year after that.
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**David Todd Podcast: Discussing the Pirates September Call-Ups. On my weekly radio segment with David Todd, we went into more detail on those potential call-ups.