Brook Jacoby and the Potential War Waged with the Umpires
They say that there’s always three sides to a story; one party’s side, the other party’s side, and then there’s the truth. A few weeks after Brook Jacoby’s incident at Fenway Park, we’ve still only heard one side of the story; Brook Jacoby’s. And even those details are limited.
Nowhere was it ever indicated what Brook Jacoby was exactly accused of, but it was implied that he may have made physical contact with one of the umpires in the narrow hallway at Fenway Park following a controversial called third strike on Russell Martin.
Had this taken place on the field, there would’ve been umpteen cameras to catch video. Instead, we’re left with unanswered questions and Brook Jacoby is out 9% of his 2015 salary. Here’s an attempt to piece this all together.
Jacoby Claims His Innocence
The Blue Jays did not release a statement until Brook Jacoby’s appeal was denied by Major League Baseball. It was at that time Jacoby declared his innocence and reiterated that he wasn’t going to apologize:
“Frustrations escalated, leading to an altercation in which I was wrongly accused of contacting an umpire in the runway following our game, I’m in no way going to apologize for what happened and feel that the penalties were very biased, harsh, and unfair.”
In most cases, when players or coaches appeal a suspension in MLB, the suspension is usually reduced. Brook Jacoby was not so lucky; his 14 game suspension was upheld and the Blue Jays promptly released that statement.
Had Jacoby’s suspension been reduced, would he still have made that bold statement? I don’t believe so. I think the Blue Jays were expecting his suspension to be reduced and Jacoby would subsequently take the reduced suspension.
Brook Jacoby’s claim of innocence is most perplexing part of the entire situation. Had Jacoby not even appealed the 14 game suspension, that would’ve been the smoking gun right there. But instead, not only did the Blue Jays appeal the decision, they released that statement by Brook Jacoby.
For the Blue Jays to allow Brook Jacoby to use the team as his sounding board for his innocence may have been questionable. But why would they do that unless the front office was steadfast in their belief of Jacoby’s testimony?
Why the Sudden Rule Change at Fenway?
It’s also suspicious that mere days after the initial incident, Jeff Blair reported that the rules at Fenway had been changed so that visiting teams had to wait until umpires left the field first.
Before Jacoby’s run-in with the umpires had even really been reported, the news of a new policy at Fenway Park suddenly emerged. But after the announcement of Brook Jacoby’s suspension, it all made sense.
To me, this indicates that Brook Jacoby’s confrontation was not an isolated incident. There had to have been similar incidents in the past. Otherwise, why else would this suddenly prompt a rule change?
Was this some weird roundabout way of sending a message to the umpiring crew? Essentially it seems this was just a slap on the wrist to the umpires for their involvement in the whole situation with the Blue Jays.
No Transparency from the Umpires
If MLB’s endgame was to make an example of Brook Jacoby by suspending him for 14 games, I’m not so sure the message was received. There was no real precedent for Jacoby’s suspension; 14 games for allegedly putting his hands on an umpire.
Nobody even knows for certain as to why he was suspended in the first place. There are rumours of a physical confrontation, but nothing on the record. All the umpire’s union would say is that a “clear line was crossed”
This may be equivalent of Joe Torre and the commissioner’s office throwing the book at Brook Jacoby, but what for? Since there’s virtually no transparency from the umpire’s side, people are forced to speculate as to what happened.
It’s clear that Joe Torre and MLB wanted to reinforce a zero tolerance policy of violence towards officials, which is completely warranted. In this instance, it really is a case of “he said/he said” … two kids in the principal’s office pleading their case.
And in this particular instance, the commissioner’s office clearly sided with the officials; despite the fact that Jacoby is adamant he did not make physical contact with an umpire. Not to mention, the Blue Jays have multiple witnesses corroborating Jacoby’s story.
The Backlash for the Blue Jays
Just for a moment, think about the gravity of Brook Jacoby’s statement; he’s saying he was falsely accused of getting physical with an umpire. That’s not something to be taken lightly, and the fact that the organization is standing behind him, says a lot.
A statement like that has the potential to have some huge ripple effects in relation to the Blue Jays; just as players, umpires protect their own, and surely they will see to it that Toronto may be judged more harshly than they would otherwise.
The Blue Jays themselves may not have much of a history with Doug Eddings, the umpire in question, but they do have a history with crew chief Bill Miller; the umpire whom Brett Lawrie hit with his angry tirade just a few years ago.
I wouldn’t say the Blue Jays have officially declared war on the umpires now, but surely they will expect some sort form of backlash from the umpires (if they haven’t already).
Image via Vicbaez.com