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.