In one of the more bizarre things that I’ve seen happen on the baseball field, home plate umpire Laz Diaz wouldn’t let Russell Martin throw the ball back to his own pitchers whenever a new ball was put into play last night. Naturally, Martin was a bit steamed after the game.
“He told me I had to earn the privilege,” Martin told Marc Carig of the Newark Star Ledger. “Even at the end of the game after I get hit in the neck. I’m like, can I throw the ball back now? He’s still like no. I’m like you’re such a (expletive). Like for real. Unbelievable. I even told him like when there’s guys on base, I like to keep my arm loose. No. I’m not letting you throw a ball back. That’s pretty strange to me.”
This is Martin’s seventh season in the big leagues, he has made three All-Star teams, won a Gold Glove and a Silver Slugger. Even if throwing the ball back to a pitcher is something to be earned by a young player, it most certainly is not, Martin’s resume should be enough. This was a blatant attempt by an umpire to show up a player.
“That was strange,” Martin said. “I was kind of mystified. I really didn’t get that. He was punishing me.”
Apparently this was in retaliation to Martin arguing balls and strikes, but that is no excuse. Martin also told reporters that he felt like Diaz was goading him into getting himself ejected. Martin may receive a fine from Major League Baseball over calling the umpire out and will no doubt get some retaliatory calls against him by a petty umpire who thinks the game is about them, but hopefully the right thing will happen and Diaz will get a suspension too.
Martin even appealed to Diaz on the grounds that he needed to keep his arm loose with men on base and the umpire still refused to budge. At that point, Diaz is directly impacting the outcome of the game. Pathetic.