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August 20, 2010

Showalter and Markakis question the umpiring; Umpires refuse comment

After Friday’s game, a 2-0 loss to the Texas Rangers in which both Buck Showalter and Nick Markakis both were ejected by home plate umpire Jeff Nelson, both the Orioles manager and right fielder had pointed comments about the frustrating night.

Nelson and umpiring crew chief Jeff Kellogg refused to comment when asked after the game.

Here’s what Showalter had to say about his and the club’s frustration: “It was just an accumulation of a lot of things. It’s unfortunate. Obviously, (Nelson) was having a tough night and you’re just looking for a sense of fairness and emotions take over. That’s one thing that can’t happen. You can’t get emotionally involved as an umpire. Ninety nine times out of 100, I come in here and tell you we had a chance to make it not matter. It was really tough tonight.”

Showalter stressed that he felt Nelson let his emotions get the better of him, and that’s what really angered the Orioles manager, whose ninth-inning ejection was his first as an Oriole. It was the club’s seventh this season.

“It got kind of emotional there for him and just not a good situation there at all,” he said. “We’re trying, we’re grinding, just like they are. We’re trying to keep the field level.”

Showalter said he wasn’t surprised that the sixth-inning ejection of Markakis was the first of the mild-mannered right fielder’s career. That spans 747 games.

“You guys know him better than I do as far as confrontations and anything like that,” Showalter said of Markakis. “Certainly, umpires, I’m not sure if they’re aware of anything like that. You see him complaining, you might want to consider the source.”

Showalter said Markakis’ quiet nature may have hurt him in the situation – and in making the point, Showalter also took a parting dig at his old team, the Yankees, too.

“Unfortunately, sometimes the people who seem to be a little more squawky get some of the benefits,” Showalter said. “That’s unfortunate in our game but we see it a lot when we head up toward the Bronx.”

In parting, Showalter said he doesn’t believe he bumped Kellogg when he tried to get around the crew chief to continue yelling at Nelson. If he did, it would be an instant suspension.

“It’s not something I’ll go back and watch the tape of. I don’t think so. I don’t know.”

Markakis said he has no previous history with Nelson, but felt like after he argued the first strike call in the third at-bat, he was doomed to be called out. Markakis was called out on strikes all three at-bats, but he didn’t have as much of a beef with the first two plate appearances. It was the third, when he though all four pitches thrown to him were balls.

“I got down in the hole. The second pitch, I said something to him and he didn’t agree with me and I didn’t agree with him,” Markakis said. “I think it kind of led up to that third pitch. You just got to bite your tongue and move on.”

What did Markakis say that set off Nelson?

“I didn’t use any words against him, I didn’t use any profanity. He may not have liked the tone in my voice, but I didn’t like the strike zone in the last at-bat.”

Posted by Dan Connolly at 10:39 PM | | Comments (22)


I didn't see Markakis get tossed.
But I did see Showalter get tossed.

Buck, I appreciate that passion.
I do really.
I was laughing when you got tossed.
The Fans enjoyed it. It was Weaveresqe.

But, I don't want to see you blowing a gasket over a meaningless game.
Man I thought that vein in your neck was going to explode.
I just want you back next year and ready to roll.
You're the first manager in years that has the Orioles playing competitively each and every game since you took over. Don’t blow it over some jack wagon of an umpire.

lets take it back . respect . put doubt in all who play my birds , wins are now not a given against the orange and black

Didn't see the game, of course, from out here in the Rockies, but I did see the video of the at-bat in question. No doubt at least two of the three "strikes" weren't even close. The 3rd "strike" was, as Buck says, an emotional response from the ump, acting as many of us would when our judgment is questioned. But, when Markakis argues that vehemently, he's probably, no, he's no doubt right.

Nick own up to it, you bought it. You argued about each strike during the at bat which is a no-no. As Nelson was walking away you said something else and he dumped you. He could have thrown you out earlier in the sequence, so by him walking away he was trying to keep you in the game. As for Showalter, anytime you leave the dugout in pro ball to argue balls and strikes, you're gone! As for emotions, why is it okay for players and managers to show emotions, but an umpire is not supposed to? Buck's timing is certainly open to question here as well. Why wait for the 9th inning rather than an earlier inning to light a fire under your team?

the umpiresget to slink away without explaining anything. that's the definition of cowardice.It flat

Shades of Earl? He sure looked like him arguing with the ump.

It has been nearly 10 hours and I am still angry at JEFF NELSON...I do not know if he is from Texas or if he had placed a bet with his bookie, but I do know that he deliberatly threw the game to the Rangers. Their pitcher was doing fine on his own without the help of the home plate umpire. The most irritating thing is that he can toss a guy like Nick Markakis and lecture Matt Wieters and deliberately cheat them of a fair chance at winning the game and nothing will happen to him because the Umpire's union will protect him. You can bet that lots of people bought tickes to see Nick but, unless he had family at the ballpark, NO ONE paid to see him cheat the Birds out of a fair shot. My husband used to say that baseball had the best officiating, however JEFF NELSON proved last night that baseball has their share of biased officials. You can believe that his name will be remembered by all fans of the game that believe in fair play and FAIR PLAY is NOT what we got from his officiating last night.

I did see the game..all of the game and the home plate umpire was the worst I have ever seen. He was either from Texas or he had placed a bet with his bookie. His strike zone was different for ea ch team and he ensured that the Birds did not have a fair chance of winning the game. The sad part of everything that happened last night is that he will suffer NO consequences for his actions. Until last night I thought,silly of me, that baseball has the most fair umpires. Bad calls are a part of the game (as when a week or so ago the ball was caught in the right outfield only after being trapped on the ground but was none the less called a fair catch, however when it was a obvious as it was last night it sullies the entire umpiring profession. Actions should have consequences but the actions of JEFF NELSON will unfortunately exact no consequence.

Umpires have too much power in this game. Their calls (or lack of), right or wrong, can change a team's momentum in a game. The players' performance should dictate which team wins or loses - not the umps.

Players and managers can show emotion because they are supposed to play with passion and care about the outcome of the game. Umpires, on the other hand, need to take the emotion out of the game and make sure the playing field is level. Nelson clearly did not do that. In the markakis at bat all four pitches were in the exact same spot, the first was a ball and the last 3 were strikes. So, in addition to allowing his emotions to cloud his judgement, Nelson also did not have a consistent strike zone.

@AZ Raven Fan

I agree that Nick easily couldve been tossed earlier in the AB, and he was definitely given more slack than a lot of players would be when arguing balls and strikes, however, I think it was necessary for Nick and Buck to take a stand here. The O's aren't going to be pushed around anymore, and even though they're not a contending team, they deserve the benefit of the doubt on calls just like the Rangers, Yanks, Sox, etc.

AZ Raven fan,

You asked a question at the end of your post that you answered yourself in the beginning of the post - if you come out of the dugout to argue balls/strikes, you get tossed. Besides, when he got tossed, the O's were in the field and the ump has just made it point to lecture Weiters, that is what set him off.

The reason it is NOT OK for umps to show emotions is that they are the neutral party in this game and the home plate umpire can EASILY dictate how well a team does by controlling what the strike zone is. If you watched the game, which you probably didn't, you couldn't help but see 2 different strike zones.

When Markakis strikes out LOOKING 3 times in one game, and there are 7 called strike 3's in the game, you need to take a look the umpire.

True, players and managers are not allowed to argue ball/strike calls, so it was a given that Markakis was going to be ejected. Still, it's one thing for an ump to make a bad call -- we all make mistakes -- but it is another to intentionally call bad pitches strikes just to get back at a player for a little mild squawking. That was a childish, unprofessional display by Nelson, and he should be disciplined.

Jeff Nelson threw out White Sox pitching coach Don Cooper last week.

And for what? Arguing balls and strikes.

The umpiring is so terrible this year.
Why doesn't somebody ask the question? Do any of these guys bet on the games?

In the case of Nelson last night. The manager should be able to eject the umpire from the game. Nelson clearly called strike three on Markakis on spite, just to show that he has the power to do so.

Too many umpire calls are arbitrary. Want to get your aggrivation threshold higher? Just watch second base on double play calls. Too often the shortstop or second basemen is not on or near the bag.

An aside - Ty Cobb slid feet first with feet up. That breaks up double plays and intimadates the defense. Pie slid head first into first base on a close call. You think the Rangers first baseman would have reached onto the bag with feet and legs moving his way?

...... "When E.F. Hutton talks, people listen" .......


...... "When Nick Markakis complains, you probably suck as an umpire" .......

I umped for 20 years - did Division 1 baseball - so I'm not just a fan making noise - these plate umps the last 2 nights stink calling the O's games - they have an attitude - they should be seen and not noticed - they are also calling the ball way off the plate a strike - against Nick Markakis - he has all the reason in the world to be upset!

Hey...Barbara Jackson and Jonathan Tuttle, you're exactly right. I made a bet with Nelsons bookie before the game on Nelsons behalf and he won a bunch of money throwing the game the Texas Rangers way. Ya'll are so smart to have figured that out. No way Baltimore loses that game unless Nelson throws it on purpose. Ya'll are idiots!!!!

O's fans I did not see the game Nelson umpired. I am a Ranger's fan and I can tell you that Texas has 3 pitchers that have hit the corners high/low, inside/outside perfectly this year, and 90% of the time they don't get the call. The tracker shows these pitches to be well within the box. Many times these calls have lead to walks, then runs that lost the game for the Rangers. So, no the umps aren't for the Rangers. The home plate umpiring this year is atrocious. MLB needs to do something about this asap. I'm tired of pitchers hitting their spots perfectly and the dope behind the plate is the only one that can't see it. Judge these guys against the tracker. If they don't make the grade get rid of them.

Thanks, Jeff Nelson, for one more example why we don't need a human calling the strike zone.

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About the bloggers
A Baltimore native, Dan Connolly has been covering sports for 14 years, and baseball and the Orioles for 10 seasons, including the past six with The Sun. His first year covering baseball on a daily basis was Cal Ripken Jr.'s final season as a player. It's believed that is just a coincidence.

Steve Gould is an assistant sports editor for The Sun, overseeing Orioles coverage. The Columbia native joined The Sun as a sports copy editor in 2006 after graduating from the University of Maryland.

Peter Schmuck has been covering baseball for a lot longer than Steve Gould has been on this earth. He is now a general sports columnist, but has been a beat writer covering three major league teams (the Dodgers, Angels and Orioles) and also spent a decade as the Sun's national baseball writer. If you want more of his insight on the Orioles and other sports issues, check out his personal blog -- The Schmuck Stops Here.

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