Brian Fuentes: The umpires are scared to make calls in Fenway Park

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Mike Scioscia’s little quip was couched in enough respectful language and humor that he can probably avoid a fine for badmouthing the umps.  Brian Fuentes, however? Not so much:

“Especially here and some other places, they seem timid to make calls. I’ve heard it from other guys that come in here and say that. That’s either because it’s a mistake, or they’re scared.”

I think it’s reasonable to assume that, on occasion, the umpires get caught up in the moment.  They’re human, and it’s understandable that thousands of screaming fans can disrupt one’s judgment on occasion.  I don’t think it’s a situation where the umpires consciously alter their approach for fear of a hostile crowd.  It’s just an environmental thing. I bet they make bad calls when it’s too hot or too cold or the they’re tired or whatever, just like you or I do whenever we’re trying to exercise judgment in sub-optimal conditions.

I don’t buy the “timid” charge, however. If anything, we have crop of umpires these days that err on the side of belligerence as opposed to timidity. There are a lot of guys who want to make themselves part of the game.  A lot of guys who stubbornly adhere to their interpretation of the rules instead of the rules themselves.  If anything, I could see an ump going out of his way to piss off a home crowd before I could see him caving to one.

Of course, you and I can talk about that kind of thing all day if we want.  Brian Fuentes can’t, however, so Fuentes, can probably expect a call from Mr. Watson today.

Mike Trout has a torn thumb ligament, could require surgery

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Yesterday Mike Trout left the Marlins-Angels game after hurting his thumb while sliding head first into second base. After the game the Angels talked about it as if it were just a sprain. Trout had an MRI today, however, and the diagnosis is far worse: he has a torn thumb ligament.

While a treatment option has not yet been chosen, surgery is a possibility. A certainty is that he’ll miss, at the very least, several weeks of play. He has been placed on the disabled list for the first time in his career.

Trout, the reigning AL MVP and, without question, the best player in baseball, is batting .337/.461/.742 with 16 home runs, 36 RBI, 36 runs scored, and 10 stolen bases in 206 plate appearances this season. Even with the one of the weaker supporting casts in baseball, Trout had the Angels near .500 and in at least arguable contention in the AL West.

Without him, they are likely sunk. Without him, baseball is worse off.

Basebrawl! Harper, Strickland punch away, Nats-Giants fight

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SAN FRANCISCO — Nationals slugger Bryce Harper and San Francisco reliever Hunter Strickland both landed punches to the head during a wild brawl that erupted Monday after a hit by pitch.

Harper was hit in the right hip by Strickland’s 98 mph fastball in the eighth inning with Washington ahead 2-0.

Harper pointed the bat toward Strickland, charged the mound and fired his batting helmet wide of the pitcher. They started to swing away and they each connected as the benches and bullpens emptied.

At least two Giants players forcefully dragged Strickland from the middle of the brawl all the way into the dugout. Harper and Strickland were both ejected.

In the 2014 NL Division Series, Harper hit two home runs off Strickland. After the star’s second shot, in Game 4, he stared at Strickland as he rounded the bases.