UPDATE: No discipline for Phil Cuzzi

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UPDATE:  Surprise!  No discipline at all for Phil Cuzzi. Graze a guy with a fastball or flip your bat in an impudent manner and you’re suspended and dined, but if you’re an umpire you can pick fights with players and make horrendous calls all you want, and baseball won’t touch you.

There is no accountability in umpiring today.  This is a complete joke.

Monday, 4:17 P.M.: As I mentioned in the recaps this morning, Phil Cuzzi, the home plate umpire in yesterday’s Giants-Mets game made a monster screw up. In the bottom of the ninth, Travis
Ishikawa came in with what should have been the game-winning run
, but Cuzzi called him out, costing the Giants the win in regulation. Even Henry Blanco, who applied the late tag, admitted that Cuzzi blew the call.

Earlier
that inning Cuzzi started jawing at Francisco Rodriguez when K-Rod took exception to a call. You can’t argue balls and strikes, but (a) K-Rod wasn’t arguing, he was merely sulking; and (b) there is no need for an ump to ever get all prickly and defensive like that. Toss the player if he goes over the line, but until then, the ump should ignore pouting players and maintain professional decorum.

Thankfully, it appears as though Major League Baseball is going to call Phil Cuzzi on the carpet. He could face a fine and — if there is any justice in the world — a suspension.  Not only for his awful behavior and poor performance yesterday, but also for past umpire sins, most notably the foul ball call on what should have been a double off the bat of Joe Mauer in the Twins-Yankees ALDS last season.

Maybe that’s too much to ask. And yes, umpires make mistakes. But the aggressive confrontation of ballplayers we’ve seen from umpires this season is inexcusable, and Major League Baseball needs to nip it in the bud in a hurry. 

Why Ryan Zimmerman skipped spring training

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All spring training there was at least some mild confusion about Nationals first baseman Ryan Zimmerman. He played in almost no regular big league spring training games, instead, staying on the back fields, playing in simulated and minor league contests. When that usually happens, it’s because a player is rehabbing or even hiding an injury, but the Nats insisted that was not the case with Zimmerman. Not everyone believed it. I, for one, was skeptical.

The skepticism was unwarranted, as Zimmerman answered the bell for Opening Day and has played all season. As Jared Diamond of the Wall Street Journal writes today, it was all by design. He skipped spring training because he doesn’t like it and because he thinks it’ll help him avoid late-season injuries and slowdowns, the likes of which he has suffered over the years.

It’s hard to really judge this now, of course. On the one hand Zimmerman has started really slow this season. What’s more, he has started to show signs of warming up only in the past week, after getting almost as many big league, full-speed plate appearances under his belt as a normal spring training would’ve given him. On the other hand, April is his worst month across his entire 14-year career, so one slow April doesn’t really prove anything and, again, Zimmerman and the Nats will consider this a success if he’s healthy and productive in August and September.

It is sort of a missed opportunity, though. Players hate spring training. They really do. if Zimmerman had made a big deal out of skipping it and came out raking this month, I bet a lot more teams would be amenable to letting a veteran or three take it much more easy next spring. Good ideas can be good ideas even if they don’t produce immediately obvious results, but baseball tends to encourage a copycat culture only when someone can point to a stat line or to standings as justification.

Way to ruin it for everyone, Ryan. 😉