A struggling Orioles team limped into the All-Star break after suffering a four game sweep delivered by the Boston Red Sox. The Orioles had issues in every aspect of their game during the series, their starters didn’t go deep enough, their defense hurt their run differential and the offense didn’t get it done with runners in scoring position.
These are the things that the Orioles have some control over while on the diamond. What they cannot control is an overwhelming Boston fear by this particular umpiring crew over the weekend.
Some Baltimore fans will tell you that umpires favor Boston, but I’m sure that like the rest of the country, they can’t stand the obnoxious atmosphere brought by the charming fans of Boston. No, umpires certainly aren’t bias when it comes to the Sox, they’re afraid.
The Orioles scuffle with the Red Sox on Friday night went well documented. Kevin Gregg threw inside to David Ortiz, Papi left the batters box to yell at Gregg, the benches cleared, Gregg yelled at him when he flew out and a brawl ensued. That was two games into the series.
On Saturday, John Lackey hit Nick Markakis after the Sox took a 3-0 lead and the umpiring crew said nothing. Markakis had a word with the ump after the inning ended, but no warnings were issued. Lackey hit Lee later in the game and then both benches we warned. So, after a brawl the night before which was started by a pitch inside to a Boston player, the Sox were allowed to retaliate twice and the Orioles were warned for it. Figure that one out. “Retaliate” isn’t even the right word, Ortiz never even got hit. Keep in mind too that the Red Sox lead all of baseball in hit batsman.
If the umpires weren’t afraid of the Red Sox, they would’ve thrown out Ortiz after he left the box to jaw at Gregg on Friday. This would have eliminated the brawl and the other plunked players. That didn’t happen. The teams should have been warned when the lineup cards were submitted by Buck Showalter and Terry Francona on Saturday after their respective teams were throwing punches the night before. That didn’t happen. John Lackey should have been thrown out for hitting the Orioles best hitter, Nick Markakis, after his team took a three run lead. That also didn’t happen. Lackey should have also been ejected for hitting Derrek Lee, but like you guessed, he wasn’t and the umps gets the brouhaha alive again.
Which brings us to Sunday. Kyle Weiland hit Vladimir Guerrero and Mark Reynolds and was ejected. A frustrated Jeremy Guthrie, who hit Kevin Youkilis, vented about the umps to Jeff Zrebiec of The Sun.
“I’ve said it before: Sometimes those who are in control of the game — I know the umpires have to control it — show a lack of feel by not understanding what is going on,” said Guthrie, who hit Kevin Youkilis with a changeup to load the bases with two outs in the fourth inning, resulting in plate umpire Marty Foster’s warning both benches.
“I think that’s … not having been in the situation, not having played the game at a high level, probably. You got first and third and you throw a changeup to the guy trying to get a ground ball, and I miss up and in. If they really had issues with people being hit, they could have warned the benches the second time one of our players were hit versus the third hit batsman of the game on a changeup on a situation where I clearly wasn’t intending to hit a gentleman. It’s difficult, but I’m sure nothing will happen and we’ll just keep going forward from there.”
Simply put, this is poor game management by this umpiring crew. An issue that could have been resolved before a brawl even ensued Friday night escalated into mayhem for three days because this crew is afraid to discipline the Red Sox. It’s ridiculous. Absolutely absurd. Major League Baseball needs to look long and hard at this series and at how Marty Foster and his crew handled every situation. The Orioles, victims of their own play over the past week, also became the victims of poor game management and game awareness by umpires and that is simply unacceptable.