Ben Zobrist was ejected in the ninth inning of the Cubs’ 7–0 home loss to the Brewers Tuesday, for arguing (what else) balls and strikes with home plate umpire Phil Cuzzi. The beef went back a few innings, to when Zobrist took a called third strike in the sixth, and reacted angrily. Zobrist survived the initial encounter when Joe Maddon stepped in and got himself tossed, but Zobrist came back for more in the ninth and earned his first career ejection.
It looks like a pretty civil conversation, and so Zobrist was asked after the game what he said to Cuzzi to earn the ejection. It turns out Zobrist let loose a pretty vicious burn:
“I just basically said that’s why we want an electronic strike zone. And that’s what obviously got me tossed.”
You may remember, Zobrist was openly advocating for an electronic strike zone last season, too, after a crappy strike three call ended a rally and a game against the Diamondbacks:
“If we want to change something like that, we’re going to have an electronic strike zone because human beings are going to make mistakes.”
“It’s an unfortunate situation, and now that we have the technology, we should probably get it right.”
Cuzzi’s call wasn’t as egregious as the one last August, and is certainly nothing close to the all-time worst Ben Zobrist Getting Screwed By A Bad Strike Zone sequence, from 2013. Cuzzi gave a few outside strikes against lefties Tuesday, but the one that got him into hot water with Maddon and Zobrist wasn’t especially bad, all things considered:
This should not be read to mean that baseball’s current system is all hunky dory. Balls and strikes are at the fundamental core of the sport, and are therefore worth getting right! And human error blows. MLB seems to be gradually opening up to the idea of using PITCHf/x to at least aid in establishing a consistent strike zone, with Rob Manfred telling Ken Rosenthal back in May that the league is “much closer than we were a year ago to having the technological capability to actually call the strike zone.” It seems inevitable that baseball is moving towards reducing human error in favor of technological precision, but it’s still very rude to tell a human umpire you’re rooting for his job to be taken by a damn robot.