Every bad call for one team is a great call for the opposing team. That’s why fans always get upset when umpires make bad calls against their team, but stay silent when the same is done against the opposition. Players act the same way. That’s what made Anthony Rizzo’s ejection in Thursday’s game against Baltimore all the more puzzling.
The Yankees’ first baseman was ejected in the eighth inning after arguing that his own teammate should’ve had a strike called against him in a one-run game. Huh?
Let’s set the stage. Heading into the eighth, the Yankees trailed 6-5. Rizzo was 2-for-3 on the day with a double, single, and two runs scored. Pretty solid day, and seeing as how he was leading off in the inning, Rizzo knew he had to step up to give his team their best chance at winning. They hadn’t lost a single game all year when scoring five or more runs, and he didn’t want that to start now.
The first pitch Rizzo sees is a slider below the strike zone. Doesn’t matter. Umpire Manny Gonzalez calls it a strike. The second pitch was a changeup, below the zone once again. And once again, the umpire calls it a strike anyway. The count should be 2-0, but instead it’s 0-2. Rizzo wound up striking out two pitches later on an inside cutter. He has every right to be pissed, but he’s got to trust his teammates to have his back.
The next man up was Giancarlo Stanton. First pitch, cutter down low. Ball one. If anything, Rizzo should be thrilled! Perhaps Gonzalez realized he was wrong with those calls against Rizzo and adjusted for Stanton. But no. Rizzo called out from the dugout, “That’s the same pitch!” implying that a strike should’ve been called against Stanton if the umpire wanted to stay consistent.
The ump wasted no time tossing the Yankees slugger, who came storming out of the dugout along with manager Aaron Boone. Rizzo jawed at Gonzalez for a short time before heading to the showers. Just think about that. Rizzo was so upset that those pitches earlier were called strikes that when his teammate faced a similar pitch that was called a ball, he couldn’t help but jab at the umpire’s judgment. That’s not a smart move, and as much as Rizzo pleaded “I’m better than that! You know I’m better than that!” he wasn’t at that moment.
The first baseman would defend his actions after the game saying, “If [what I did] warrants an ejection, then we should just shut our mouths because we should be getting ejected left and right.” He explained that he believes the umpire only called the second one a strike “out of spite… just to prove that that’s his strike zone. That’s where I got really frustrated.”
I get where Rizzo is coming from, and I think both parties are partially to blame. For one, the umpire clearly indicated his strike zone after the first pitch. Rizzo is a professional. He should be able to make adjustments mid at-bat, so he shouldn’t have gotten “frustrated” when the next pitch came in at the same location and was called a strike again. Even if the umpire called it a strike “out of spite,” he was at least being consistent. In the video above, the reporter says that the umpire was making that low strike call all game both ways, and Rizzo agrees that was the case. Second, he should’ve just kept his mouth shut. I get that it’s frustrating, but that was a ball… to your teammate… in a one-run game… in the eighth inning. Just take the gift and let it go. Be thankful that your teammate finally got the call that you didn’t.
That being said, Rizzo shouldn’t have been thrown out. That umpire must have really thin skin to consider it an ejectable offense. He didn’t curse. He didn’t raise his voice too much. All he did was ask the umpire to be consistent, but that was too much for the blue’s fragile ego to handle apparently.
This was the third time Rizzo had been ejected in his career. He’s always been a class act on the field and has never been one to get too rowdy with umpires. That being said, if there was ever a time to get into it with an official, this wasn’t it. Don’t beg for a call, then get upset when it’s finally made for someone other than yourself. That’s petty, but so is throwing Rizzo out for being rightfully upset.