Red Sox Chick/Toeing the Rubber

Because you always need a backup plan

It’s going to be a long weekend

Happy to see Aviles get his moment. Photo courtesy of Kelly O'Connor and used with permission.

After last night’s game I went to the Rays message board at (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.  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.  After one game with some questionable calls he wants someone to take a look at the umpires?  Sounds like nothing more than sour grapes.  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.  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.  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.  (In ten games at Fenway Park, Shields is 1-9.  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.  I’m saying every team has benefited from bad calls at some point and implying that there is favoritism makes Joe sound desperate.  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.  Last night was a good night to be a Red Sox fan.  How much fun was watching Mike Aviles hit a home run off of Shields that put a hole through the Sports Authority sign?  Or Daniel Bard acting Daniel Bardish?  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.  If the Sox can win at least one  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.


September 17, 2011 - Posted by | 2011 | , , , , , , ,


  1. So, when the Rays win the “baseball gods” are smiling down upon them; when they lose it’s because the umpires are biased. Got it Joe.

    God, I can’t stand him or his stupid ponytail in the making.

    Comment by Kim Kossick | September 17, 2011 | Reply

  2. If you look at the strike zone plots over at, you can see that Beckett got a wider zone than Shields (and neither pitcher got strike calls at the bottom of the zone). The PitchFX tool there is a great way to assess whether complaints are valid or not. Not sure if we can link in the comments, but here’s the plot:

    Comment by KellyO | September 17, 2011 | Reply

    • I’m not arguing that the umpiring wasn’t bad…I’m just saying I don’t to chalk it up to the umpires being biased in favor of the Red Sox, which is what Maddon seems to be implying. Every day, every game, someone can complain about the umpires being bad or inconsistent. Suddenly because it happened in a game that is of relative importance Joe Maddon is calling for it to be looked into?

      Comment by Toeing the Rubber | September 17, 2011 | Reply

  3. The umpires have been consistently bad for everyone all year long.

    Erik Bedard, I believe, fell victim to a crazy strike zone during his first Sox start.

    For me this is about Joe Maddon, who appears to be one of the more superstitious managers in baseball, what with his crazy sportcoats, dying his hair, baseball gods, etc. Then, when his team loses, it’s all about an umpiring conspiracy.

    The umpires didn’t make 3 batters strike out swinging–ok one was a foul tip–in the top of the ninth. Or maybe they did if those crappy balls were strikes all night long…

    Comment by Kim Kossick | September 17, 2011 | Reply

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