After last night’s game I went to the Rays message board at rays.com (I sometimes do this with the opponent after a game) and was surprised by the number of fans complaining that the Red Sox were given preferential treatment by the umpires last night. In my experience, there is usually one troll who shows up on the message boards saying the the Red Sox pay the umps (or that the umps just want to ensure the Red Sox are in the playoffs) but no one else really takes that troll seriously. Last night, many fans were agreeing that the umps were giving Beckett a different strike zone than Shields. I laughed it off. Fans get worried and start to fear the worst, so as ridiculous as it was, I understood where they were coming from.
Then this morning I read this quote given by Joe Maddon:
“It was an egregiously bad strike zone tonight, and I really hope that somebody takes a look at it because it was that bad,” Maddon said. “Our hitters were at a great disadvantage tonight; they really were. And I definitely saw it as being one-sided.”
When the manager of the team starts sounding like the trolls on a message board, well then I start to get annoyed. Â Joe Maddon is quite mad if he thinks that bad MLB umpiring started last night in an effort to get the Red Sox to the playoffs. Â After one game with some questionable calls he wants someone to take a look at the umpires? Â Sounds like nothing more than sour grapes. Â It’s fair to note that B.J. Upton lost his mind after being called out on strikes and got right in the face of the home plate umpire. Â As it happened I was thinking “If he pulled this in May he would have been tossed by now but the umps are giving him a long rope because of the implications of this game”. No mention of that from Mr. Maddon, though. Â It’s also fair to note that Rays’ catcher John Jaso also complained about an umpiring bias against the Rays but starting pitcher James Shields refused to blame the umps for his loss. Â (In ten games at Fenway Park, Shields is 1-9. Â I’m guessing that has more to do with what happened last night than the umpires wanting the Red Sox in the postseason.)
Now I’m not saying the umpiring was (is) great. Â I’m saying every team has benefited from bad calls at some point and implying that there is favoritism makes Joe sound desperate. Â And Maddon’s comments are most likely going to get him a fine or suspension…not exactly a good way to lead your team at this important time.
But enough of the cranky old man…Red Sox beat the Rays and the Blue Jays beat the Yankees. Â Last night was a good night to be a Red Sox fan. Â How much fun was watching Mike Aviles hit a home run off of Shields that put a hole through the Sports Authority sign? Â Or Daniel Bard acting Daniel Bardish? Â Jonathan Papelbon notching his 30th save of the season with three strikeouts was a wonderful way to end the evening. (Oh, he also got his 500th career strikeout and became the first player in MLB history to get 30 saves in his first six seasons.)
Jon Lester on the mound today at 4:10pm on (oh joy) Fox against Jeff Niemann. Â If the Sox can win at least one Â more game this weekend, they’ll be sitting in a good spot.
It won’t be easy…it almost never is…but it’ll be fun.
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