Opinion

Fans Came to See the Stro Show, Not the Ump Show

Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images

When 47,484 fans walked through the Rogers Centre turnstiles earlier today, do you think any one of them anticipated that the manager, starting pitcher and catcher would be ejected from the game?

Did any of those fans spend their hard-earned money on a ticket to see Marcus Stroman take the hill? Or did they show up to see home plate umpire Will Little call balls and strikes?

Thursday afternoon’s display by Little was just the latest example of an umpire who tried to insert themselves into the game rather than let things take their course.



Looking at the called balls and strikes, Little had a very small strike zone. There were some egregious calls for both the Blue Jays and the Athletics. Hey, at least Little was equally inept behind the plate for both clubs.

In the case of Manea – the A’s starting pitcher  – he may have been robbed of some strikes thanks to his catcher Bruce Maxwell, who was starting just his 54th career Major League game behind home plate. For the A’s, let’s chalk it up to some poor pitch framing.

But for the Blue Jays, they had one of the best pitch framers in baseball – Russell Martin – and that still didn’t convince Little to give Stroman those borderline pitches on the corners.

If that were it, it wouldn’t be that big of a deal; pitchers and umpires disagree on the strike zone all the time. But it’s the way that Little handled himself and the entire situation which irked me.

After a called ball four to – Stroman uttered something to himself and it looked like he was just trying to let off some steam after missing his location. Then Little proceeded to remove his mask, say something to Stroman and tossed him instantly.

Martin barely turned around before he was ejected as well … and that’s when all hell broke loose.

Stroman bolted towards home plate to plead his case to Little, but by then, Stroman was already ejected from the game. Meanwhile, Martin played peacekeeper for his starter, even though he was gone from the game as well.

What a joke, right? If this were a team in the midst of contention and Little tossed the starting pitcher and catcher, there would be hell to pay. But since it’s the Jays and the A’s, there’s a little less contempt for the situation.



Not that any party was innocent in this incident; Gibby getting tossed was expected and Stroman and Martin were vocal about the strike zone, but at no point did they yell or get in the ump’s face.

To me, Little escalated this whole thing and basically baited Stroman. Martin put it bluntly to the umpiring crew on the field immediately after the incident.

You took your (expletive) mask off and challenged him. What the (expletive) did you think was going to happen?!

For whatever reason, some umpires like Little seem to take offense to being criticized on the field and it often leads to a quick trigger finger when it comes to ejecting players. The manager? I can understand – but the starting pitcher in the middle of the game and starting catcher? That’s just dumb.

And the worst part of it all? Little won’t be held accountable because umpires never have to answer to the media or the players. Occasionally, a crew chief might comment on a particular game, but more than likely, this will just be swept under the rug.

It’s a damn shame because nobody paid good money to see the ump show. They paid to see the Stro Show. And thanks to Little, the show was cut short.

Ian has been writing about the Toronto Blue Jays since 2007. He enjoyed the tail-end of the Roy Halladay era and vividly remembers the Alex Rodriguez “mine” incident. He’ll also retell the story of Game 5 of the ALDS to his kids for the next 20 years.

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1 Comment

  1. Constance Fortune

    July 30, 2017 - 6:52 pm

    I agree with you 100%! This was the worst umpiring I’ve seen in years. Marcus had his back to the ump, muttering to himself and gets thrown out? Russell simply asking what happened and he gets thrown out? Ridiculous! I wonder if this is the same ump that threw out Kris Bryant as he was walking away? Bryant used no profanity but it didn’t matter. Why is this happening? Why can’t Joe Torre talk to these guys or give them time off to cool off? Preferably without pay! Just my 2 cents worth, that’s all these lousy umps should get!

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