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« Clayton Kershaw's Curveball is to Die For | Main | Cole, Fernandez Getting Outs, if not Whiffs, with Blazing Fastballs »
Sunday
Jul282013

The facts behind the At Bat that upset Big Papi

Last night, David Ortiz took out his frustration that he felt about the acumen of home plate umpire Tim Timmons on the bullpen phone in the Sox dugout last night, narrowly missing Dustin Pedroia on his backswing.

You can see the video below.

That's the summary, now here are the detes.

Here's what happened

It was the top of the 7th inning in Camden Yards and there was one out and the bases empty in the game that that would eventually end in a 7-3 Boston win over Baltimore.

David Ortiz went to a 3-0 count against the O’s Jairo Asencio and as the pitch was about to be delivered, Papi appeared to step out of the batter’s box, without asking for time. 

Gordon Edes of ESPN.com describes what happened next:

Ortiz was incredulous when Timmons called it a strike, barking at the umpire. He became more agitated when Timmons also called the next pitch, which appeared out of the zone, another strike, and became inconsolable when he swung at the next pitch, which was down and in, to strike out.

After the at bat

As Big Papi left the plate he complained about the call to Timmons:

"When I'm walking away, I'm telling him he was acting like he was right about the call. No, he wasn't. He wasn't right. Don't be giving me that BS. If you miss it, tell me you missed it and I'll walk away. I don't have a problem with that. You're not perfect. You're human, you know what I'm saying. But don't act like you made the right call. It was ball four."

Ortiz continued seething as he returned to the dugout and then headed into the dugout, attacked the bulpen phone, was ejected and then got his money's worth screaming at Timmons.

He burst out of the dugout and started heading towards home plate but was interecepted by manager (and free safety?) John Farrell. Ortiz returned to the dugout, threw some of his protective batting gear onto the field and called it a night.

Ortiz was wrong

It is sacreligious in Red Sox Nation to criticize David Ortiz. But I will take my chances now.

Umpires make bad calls. They sometimes vastly miss balls and strikes. Timmons didn't in this case.

Look at the map of the at bat above and you can see the location of the fourth pitch of this at bat that upset Big Papi so much. It's at the top of the strike zone.

  1. 0-0 - Ball on a 86 MPH Changeup - Outside
  2. 1-0 - Ball on a 87 MPH Changeup - Low
  3. 2-0 - Ball on a 92 MPH Four Seamer - Inside
  4. 3-0 - Strike Looking on a 91 MPH Four Seamer - Over the Plate
  5. 3-1 - Strike Looking on a 86 MPH Changeup - Outside
  6. 3-2 - Strike Out on a 87 MPH Changeup - Low

Now I understand that (unfortunately) umpires don't frequently call high strikes, but as Ortiz backed out of the batters box, Timmons called one.

If Ortiz wanted to complain about a call, it should be on the fifth pitch of the at bat, but after showing up Timmons on the previous pitch, Ascensio could have thrown the pitch into the press box and gotten a called strike. In fact, if there was any bad judgement shown it was on the swing and miss by Oritz on the sixth pitch of the at bat, but once again Ortiz would have swung at any pitch there short of it being thrown in the dugout.

Just so you know, according to the rule book, Timmons could have called the pitchin question a ball even though Ortiz was stepping out the batter's box. 

Rule 6.02
(a) The batter shall take his position in the batter’s box promptly when it is his time at bat.
(b) The batter shall not leave his position in the batter’s box after the pitcher comes to
Set Position, or starts his windup.
PENALTY: If the pitcher pitches, the umpire shall call “Ball” or “Strike,” as the
case may be.
Rule 6.02(b) Comment: The batter leaves the batter’s box at the risk of having a strike delivered and called, unless he requests the umpire to call “Time.” The batter is not at liberty to step in and
out of the batter’s box at will.

What should happen next? 

What happens next is anyone's guess. My feeling is that MLB should suspend Ortiz for a couple of games and the Red Sox should fine Ortiz for the cost of repairs and at least a little more.

If that's all that happen, the Red Sox should consider themselves lucky.

The bat and shards of wood came dangerously close to Pedroia, if he had been in any way injured the Sox postseason chances would have been put in jeopardy.

As for Ortiz, a couple of days in the clubhouse would do him good.

He has no problems in showing up pitchers as he preens after a home run so he's in no position to speak about being disrespected on the ball field.

Ortiz was quoted as saying:

“I want to hear what the argument’s going to be [in favor of a suspension]. I want to hear that because I have a good one,” said Ortiz. “When situations like that happens, I think MLB should do something because that was horrible. We’re not playing this game for fun, we’re playing to win and if you walk, I walk, I’ve got no problem with that. But you’re not going to take my at-bat away from me. I hit that’s what I do. And I work really hard to be who I am at the plate. That might be the worse call of the year right there. That was bad. Definitely.’’

When Papi says, "That was bad. Definitely.’’ I can only presume he's referring to his over-reaction.

Ortiz was wrong, not wronged.

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Reader Comments (11)

Just can't agree with your analysis. Your comments show a clear prejudice against Ortiz. If he "preens" or not after hitting a home run should have nothing to do with the umpires call. Further your whole analysis underscores what is wrong with Umpires.
I don't know where you get your diagram with locations of the pitches but it clearly is not the one used on the video. Yours has pitch 4 with a majority of the ball in the strike zone the one expressed in the video has the majority of the pitch outside the zone and perhaps not even in the zone. I watched the video 5 times and the pitch looks high to me. I would have called it a ball- but lets call it a strike. Pitch 5 was almost in the damn dougout and you say that was acceptable because ortiz stepped out on the last pitch and the umpire had the "right to get even" - come on dude we want balls and strikes not some umpires version of frontier justice. Your implication is that 2 wrongs make a right. Two wrongs is just wronger! Ortiz has the right to be pissed about pitch 5. I don't know where you get the checked lines out sided the box either - is that to try and support your thesis that the pitches were close??
Ortiz said he beleived they were trying to walk him. It happens quite a bit - he might know someting about it. The first three pitches were nowhere near the plate (watch a video). It is very reasonable he beleived that pitch 4 was on the same trajectory as 3 which was called ball and he was expecting to take the walk. So Ortiz is pissed that 4 is called a strike then pitch 5 is way out side and called a strike. Pitch 5 was bullshit should never have been called a strike. Clearly the Umpire is showing a bias so Ortiz has to at least swing to protect the plate as it sems the ump has an agenda of other than correctly calling balls and strikes.
Ortiz has every right to be pissed - correspondingly he has no right to have done that stupid shit in the dugout. Fine him and warn him about a suspension if he does it again - but your diagram, your resoning that a bad call is justified and your suggestion that it could affect the playoffs seems as far fetched and as biased as the umpires call.
Don't intellectually prostitute yourself because you dislike the bat flip after a homerun.

July 28, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterBD

According to the pitch/fx data, the pitch was 0.7 inches high (bottom of the ball to top of Papi's strike zone) as it broke the plane of the strike zone.

AFAIK, I'm the only person who calculates how much a ball drops due to gravity and spin as it passes over the plate. If you factor that in, the ball does grab 0.9 of the zone by the time it passes over the whole of the plate. I'm not sure umpires pay attention to that, either.

Umpires do expand the zone on 3-0 counts, so I have to agree that this was a call that ordinarily can go either way, rather than an egregious one. But I do think that it's usually a ball.

July 29, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterEric M. Van

David Ortiz's display of anger and violence in the Camden Yards visitors' dugout is outrageous and absolutely punishable. The call is not the issue here. How many MLB players come up to the plate and get a bad call, every single game. How many have you ever seen react the way David Ortiz did during the game against the Orioles? I've been a baseball fan most of my life, and I am almost 60. I have NEVER seen a player act so violently after getting a bad call, and that's not to say it even was necessarily a bad call. The umpires call them as they see them. Where did Ortiz have the right to step away from the plate before the ball was even thrown on the next to the last pitch? Is he that cocky that he thinks he can do what he did in the quest dugout of Camden Yards or any other ball park and get away with that type of behavior?
As an Orioles fan, I was absolutely appalled that David Ortiz was even allowed to play in the Sunday game, yesterday, which was the third game in the series. At the very least, he should have "sat the bench" yesterday. If I was the manager, I would have told him to stay home, but it seems to me everyone is afraid to dare to criticize the great "Papi." After seeing the violent outburst he displayed in OUR stadium, I would think he is someone to be afraid of for sure.
Also, you can best believe that if you or anyone else behaved that way anywhere, whether it be in a public place or even at home during a domestic dispute, your ass would be locked up, as his should have been.
He behaved like a crazed animal, and he also behaved as though he is on drugs. Is this what it's come to? We now reward this type of behavior for a perceived "bad call?" If so, professional athletes will never again be the heroes we once wanted out children to admire. They will be the ones we do not want them to emulate. David Ortiz needs a strong lesson in manners, and he is right about one thing. That was horrible. He is horrible. I would never, regardless of how many hits or home runs he hits, want that type of player on my team. He should be in jail for destruction of property and also nearly killing his fellow teammate, as he threw a violent temper tantrum because he did not like a call at the plate.

July 29, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterO's fan in Maryland

Sir or Madame,
I am in almost total agreement with your analysis of the Ortiz episode. I have been a diehard Red Sox fan since 1967, and until fairly recently a huge fan of David Ortiz but I'll not let that fact color the way I see this episode. Billy Martin was a legendary hot head who had style, covering home plate with dirt since obviously the ump wasn't using at as a point of reference, but there is no room for THIS type of behavior in professional sports. The only thing I would disagree with is that in lieu of jail Ortiz should have an immediate screening for PED's. If the results are positive he should be banned for life. If negative, he should be subjected to intense psychological and physiological screening for his own well-being. We need to purge all professional sports of any substance which could lead to damage to these players during or after their careers. Are we all so hungry for home runs and bone crushing tackling that we don't mind seeing these young people put their very lives at risk for our enjoyment? We then scratch our heads and wonder what went wrong when they end up committing suicide or heinous crimes against others due at least in part to these poisons they've ingested or injected.

I agree with the first commentor. The Amica Pitch Zone used on NESN clearly shows the location of pitch 4 clearly out of the strike zone. David wasn't wrong, Timmons was and the writer of the article is as well.

July 29, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterNeil W

I am not a fan of Boston or Baltimore. Just saying that to prove I do not care one way or the other about this player. But, as a fan of the GAME, this was stupid and idiotic on his part! He could have hurt his teammates when he swung that bat in the close confines of a dugout. That kind of behavior has no place in a game, on any level, much less in the "show." But, we know since it was in a game, he will not be punished the same way he would be if it had happened outside the stadium. He destroyed some property that belonged to Baltimore, that should get him arrested and locked up until he could go before a judge and post bail. Perhaps that is what needs to be done to athletes, no longer get a free ride for their actions. Just because something happens in a sports venue, does that mean the laws of society no longer apply?

July 31, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSamwise1948

Ortiz should have been treated like any other player and suspended 10 games! 5 games for his tirade in the dugout and 5 games for leaving the dugout and trying to get at the umpire! If the manager and coaches had not intervened it could have gotten much uglier. Bad calls happen all the time and there were many bad strike calls that game on both teams. MLB needs to hold umpires accountable in farness to all players but there is no excuse for the actions of Ortiz and the message it sends to young players aspiring to be "professionals"

July 31, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJD

I am a Texas Rangers fan. We have a left handed outfielder, David Murphy, who has bad pitches called almost every at bat. So much so it's referred to as the " Murphy Zone "And according to the pitch tracker there is a " Murphy Zone " Worst I've ever seen him do is hang his head and walk back to the dugout. I'm talking about four plate appearances five " Murphy Zone " pitches. Ortiz needs a ten game suspension and a $ 100,000.00 fine donated to some anger management cause.

July 31, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterBrian

Seriously, someone is defending Ortiz on the fourth pitch because the Amica Pitch Zone said it wasn't a strike? That thing is of terrible quality, and only marks the ball at one point during the pitch, (as it crosses the front of the plate) and does not track its motion. Ortiz acted like a child the whole way. He backed out during a pitch, and yet acted as though he deserved the call anyway, when it was hardly high. It was his fault that he struck out, anyways, given that god-awful swing on the sixth pitch. Honestly, as a Red Sox fan, I hope they get him on PED use, because I hate having to root for that petulant child. He throws a fit weekly, and he only doesn't get punished because he's David Ortiz.

July 31, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterTurtlyLooker

Managing editer?????? How about heading back to the mail room. You are so far off on what you saw. I hate the fact that David Ortiz broke the phone and chanced an injury to a player, but the fact that over looked his ejection by the ump baffles me. Give us the facts. Did you do that. No!! When is the last time you saw a player ejected for breaking something in the dugout? Okay, a few things landed 6 inches on the field. The ump got his feelings hurt and lost his integrity. Lets peel back what happened and you see that because this ump thinks he is bigger than the game he could have impacted the game in a negative way. Umps should be seen and not heard, put his sorry ass ego aside or find another profession. Maybe you should also becuase you are a joke!

August 1, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterHenry Cuthbertson

He stood erect. This effectively enlarges the strike zone. Pause the clip as the catcher gets the ball. The ball is caught level with his belt buckle! Big Papi was wrong.

August 1, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSteven
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