The Cubs very likely weren’t coming back whatever the call, but the way yesterday’s game against the Padres ended was ridiculous.
When you see Anthony Rizzo get this mad, and follow an umpire off the field, you know he was certain the game-ending strike three was not a strike. And it wasn’t even close:
Angel Hernandez was ready to go home pic.twitter.com/pUmINdnhNS
— Robert O'Neill (@RobertONeill31) August 5, 2018
That wasn’t even presented well by the catcher – mostly because it was so dang outside. Oh, but it was moving away, you say? Maybe it caught the corner as it crossed by the plate? Maybe it was closer than it looks?
Rizzo immediately went to home plate umpire Angel Hernandez to register his displeasure, and followed him up the first base line.
Never saw a player argue a strike call all the way down the line at the end of a game, but Anthony Rizzo was rightfully disgusted by Angel Hernandez–as are most people who have seen him Frank Drebin as an ump for 20 years. @BleacherNation @realcubsinsider pic.twitter.com/NTEoMsFCpY
— MBDChicago (@MBDChicago) August 6, 2018
Even after the game was long over, Rizzo was justifiably still pissed off:
Rizzo said he has the utmost respect for all of mlb’s umpires & feels he knows most on a personal level.
W/regards to Hernandez strike call to end gm “That call is unacceptable. Angel told me to look at it. I looked at it. And, he was wrong & I would like for him to confirm that.
— Kelly Crull (@Kelly_Crull) August 5, 2018
Anthony Rizzo says he appreciates how hard the job is and stresses how much he respects umpires and Angel Hernandez in particular, but…"with that being said, that call was unacceptable. That can’t happen. It can’t happen in the major leagues, at Wrigley Field, at any field."
— Patrick Mooney (@PJ_Mooney) August 5, 2018
Joe Maddon was also ticked after the game, calling it an “egregiously bad call,” and noting that if Rizzo walks there, the Cubs are just a batter away from having the tying run at the plate on a day the wind was howling out. (NBC Sports Chicago)
So, in the end, what comes from something like this? Well, nothing for the game, obviously, or for Rizzo’s walk/strikeout rates. Angel Hernandez will get dinged slightly in his review of his zone calls (whatever that process looks like behind the scenes), and he may even get a note from the league that, “Hey, man, you really effed that one up.”
But it’s not likely that there will be a public apology here or anything. Everyone will just kind of move on. Rizzo does hope to hear from Hernandez, for what it’s worth. (NBC)
It will stick in peoples’ memories, however, when the continued push for robot umps accelerates in the coming years right alongside the technology. More and more people will question just how much the “human element” is worth when it leads to pitches like that ending games.
I speak from a position of authority on this one: I have never fully supported converting the home plate umpire to an electronic strike zone. Yet, this one – how easily fixable it is – is sticking in my craw. To the extent I change my mind in the coming years, this will be one of the cracks the helped bring down the wall.