Beefs are best kept in the locker roomIf I think a game is of particular interest, like a subway series between the New York Yankees and the New York Mets, I tape it and go back to it after a while.
It’s like solving a math problem: Taking a step back offers me a better perspective on the overall game and helps me discover a new angle that may not have dawned on me up to that moment.
The other day, for the second time, I watched the New York Mets’ Seo Jae-weong pitch against the Montreal Expos in a game played July 3. What I saw did not impress me much, and I am not talking about Seo’s pitching skills.
Seo had to pack it in early that game; he only lasted to the fourth inning, and gave up five runs. Naturally, the Korean sports tabloids all pounced on Seo’s outing the next day, since it was his shortest outing in the 16 games he has started.
Most of the tabloids reported how the young Korean pitcher complained in a post-game interview about some of the home plate umpire’s calls.
His utterances prove that Seo still has a lot to learn if he wants to survive in the big show. What are you going to get from saying something that should remain in the clubhouse?
Even if he thinks an umpire has robbed him of strikes by compressing the strike zone, there is not much a pitcher can do about it. If the pitcher continues to throw balls into spots he is used to getting strikes from, he’ll only end up falling behind in the ball count.
If he tries to adjust too much by throwing the ball closer to the middle of the plate he’ll get hammered.
Whatever a pitcher will get from an umpire will probably come after the game. Some will admit that they blew some pitches, but that’s all you’re going to get. That umpire’s strike zone stays put and so will his decision.
During the game, Seo shook his head several times and made gestures to make clear that he was unhappy with the umpire’s calls.
That’s a big no-no. In the eternal battle between pitcher and batter the umpire is supposed to act as a middleman, but he too is only human.
Remember, he is the one who calls the game, so whether pitcher or batter, if you overhear that the ump had a quarrel with his wife that morning, the best thing is to leave him alone.
If you don’t? Don’t be surprised if he calls balls 10 inches off the outside corner of the plate strikes, or if he refuses to see a strike in any pitch that doesn’t ride straight down Broadway.
The hitter might shake his head but he’ll get another chance. If a pitcher does not get a grip on his emotions, it may throw off his entire game.
What happened to Seo occurred not because Major League umpires are trying to “subdue a rising rookie,” as some tabloids cry. That is mere rubbish. Every umpire has his own strike zone and it’s up to the player to figure out where it falls.
Having a poker face is another function that comes with being a good player. Why do you think the manager is out there? It’s his job, not the player’s, to match bellies with the ump if he takes issue with a call. But how many times have you seen a manager stride up to the plate because he does not like the umpire’s strike zone?
by Brian Lee