MLB needs to discipline some umpires. Now.

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Lost in the two straight dramatic wins that have the Rockies within spittin’ distance of first place is a bizarre series of exchanges from Monday’s game that, according to the Denver Post, is likely going to get some umpires disciplined:

Several Rockies alleged after Monday’s
dramatic, 14th-inning 6-4 victory that second-base umpire Bill Miller
called catcher Yorvit Torrealba a derogatory name while the catcher was
a baserunner late in the game . . .
Tensions began to escalate because,
Torrealba said, Miller insulted him, saying that he was out of line by
showing up Campos during the game with his body language on
questionable calls against Rockies pitchers. A witness to the incident
said that Miller referred to his own experience as an umpire in
explaining why he had the right to criticize Torrealba’s actions,
though he wasn’t working the plate.

As that was going on, Rockies’ reliever Huston Street started jawing at first base umpire Jim Joyce, telling him that he needed to get Miller to lay off of Torrealba. Instead, Joyce came to the dugout and got into it with Street. After the game, during the celebration after Spilborghs’ homer, Torrelaba apparently had some nasty words with Campos and/or Miller.

Bob Watson is looking into it all, and if the Post’s story is accurate, there had better be some discipline against the umps.  This has been a pretty bad year for umpire behavior, and at some point baseball needs to send a message to them that they need to rise above whatever petty baloney they feel the players and managers are doing during a game and do their job.

If I was in charge of umpires I’d order them not to even argue back during heated exchanges because nothing looks sillier than a manager ranting and raving to a stone faced ump. Going way beyond that and actually calling out players during a game for what they perceive to be disrespect is utterly unacceptable.

In order to legitimize their authority, umps need to take the high road.  It seems that the only way they’ll be inspired to do that is for Bob Watson to knock them down a few pegs.  Watson and baseball has been loathe to do that when necessary, but they desperately need to do it now.

Justin Turner is a postseason monster

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A not-insignificant amount of the Dodgers’ success in recent years has to do with the emergence of Justin Turner. In his first five seasons with the Orioles and Mets, he was a forgettable infielder who had versatility, but no power. The Mets non-tendered him after the 2013 season, a move they now really regret.

In four regular seasons since, as a Dodger, Turner has hit an aggregate .303/.378/.502. His 162-game averages over those four seasons: 23 home runs, 36 doubles, 83 RBI, 80 runs scored. And he’s also a pretty good third baseman, it turns out. The Dodgers have averaged 95 wins per season over the past four years.

Turner, 32, has gotten better and better with each passing year. This year, he drew more walks (59) than strikeouts (56), a club only five other players (min. 300 PA) belonged to, and he trailed only Joey Votto (1.61) in BB/K ratio (1.05). He zoomed past his previous career-high in OPS, finishing at .945. His .415 on-base percentage was fourth-best in baseball. His batting average was fifth-best and only nine points behind NL batting champion Charlie Blackmon.

It doesn’t seem possible, but Turner has been even better in the postseason. He exemplified that with his walk-off home run to win Game 2 of the NLCS against the Cubs. Overall, entering Wednesday night’s action, he was batting .363/.474/.613 in 97 postseason plate appearances. In Game 4, he went 2-for-2 with two walks, a single, and a solo home run. That increases his postseason slash line to .378/.495/.659, now across 101 plate appearances. That’s a 1.154 OPS. The career-high regular season OPS for future first-ballot Hall of Famer Albert Pujols was 1.114 in 2008, when he won his third career MVP Award. Statistically, in the postseason, Turner hits slightly better than Pujols did in the prime of his career. Of course, we should adjust for leagues and parks and all that, but to even be in that neighborhood is incredible.

In the age of stats, the concept of “clutch” has rightfully eroded. We don’t really allow players to ascend to godlike levels anymore like the way we did Derek Jeter, for instance. (Jeter’s career OPS in the playoffs, by the way, was a comparatively pitiful .838.) Turner isn’t clutch; he’s just a damn good hitter whose careful approach at the plate has allowed him to shine in the postseason and the Dodgers can’t imagine life without him.