Yankees greats rip umpires for ejecting Aaron Judge, claim ‘umpires enjoy being bad’

Aaron Boone argues with umpire after Aaron Judge is ejected in Yankees vs. Tigers game at Yankee Stadium on May 4, 2024.
John Allen
Wednesday May 8, 2024

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Yankees’ Aaron Judge was ejected for the first time in his career over the weekend when plate umpire Ryan Blakney took apparent offense to Judge’s comments as he walked away from home plate. Considering his reputation in the sports world, fan following, and personality, the ejection has snowballed into a major controversy.

As soon as Aaron Judge was ejected by the umpire in the Yankees vs. Tigers game, his close friend Anthony Rizzo screamed and called out the umpires. Skipper Aaron Boone, often targeted with ejections, also strongly opposed it. The latest to join the debate in favor of Aaron Judge are many of the Yankees icons.

Aaron Boone argues with umpire after Aaron Judge is ejected in Yankees vs. Tigers game at Yankee Stadium on May 4, 2024.
NY POST

Tino Martinez, the legendary first baseman of the New York Yankees, slammed the umpires for the “terrible” ejection. He went on to allege that many umpires fell short in terms of skill and some of them appear to take pleasure in antagonizing fans, suggesting that such behavior might be ingrained in their persona.

“It’s always been that way,” he told Fox News while attending the premier of “The Story of My Number,” a series on Yankees legends. “There’s good umpires and there’s bad umpires. Some umpires enjoy being bad umpires. They like to get on the fans’ nerves and those guys know who they are. I think that’s part of their deal, but it’s unclear to players in certain games, especially the playoffs and World Series. 

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Martinez’s comment about “those guys know who they are” has become a common refrain in the game betraying the feeling and trust of players, coaches, and fans. Umpires, such as Angel Hernandez, C.B. Bucknor, and Doug Eddings are just a few of the well-known officials who have made questionable calls, some of which have significantly impacted the outcome of games this season. However, there is no tangible action from the MLB to rein in them yet.

Although Aaron Judge did utter something while walking away, Tino Martinez described the situation as “ridiculous” after witnessing the events unfold at Yankee Stadium during the team’s ultimate 5-3 victory over the Detroit Tigers.

Martinez expressed his disapproval, characterizing the incident as terrible. He pointed out that Aaron Judge is renowned for his composure and did not lose his temper in that particular instance. Martinez observed that Aaron Judge chose to walk away from the umpire instead of confronting him directly, which he considered to be the appropriate response. He further emphasized that the umpire’s decision to eject the Yankees captain from the game was excessive.

“That’s terrible,” the Yankees’ great said. “Aaron Judge never loses his temper and he didn’t in that situation either. He walked away, he wasn’t in the umpire’s face. He walked away like he should’ve done, and he put him out, which was a little too much by the umpire.”

Aaron Judge gets strong backing from Yankees icons

Umpire signals the ejection of Aaron Judge in Yankees vs. Tigers game as the slugger walks away at Yankee Stadium on May 4, 2024.
AP

Former Yankees right fielder Nick Swisher echoed Martinez’s sentiments. “He didn’t say anything,” Swisher made a strong defense of Aaron Judge. “He said, ‘You were s—, you’ve been bad all day,’ which was true. I watched the game.”

However, in Swisher’s opinion, tenured umpires who occasionally appear to be going through the motions should not be tolerated. He elaborated on this point, drawing attention to the systems in place for athletes, whereby subpar performance can result in demotion to the minor leagues. Swisher proposed that a similar tiered system should be applied to umpires, aligning with the views expressed by Max Scherzer. He found merit in Max Scherzer‘s argument and advocated for the implementation of a comparable system for umpiring officials.

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Scherzer, an influential veteran starter within the MLBPA, proposed that MLB should “rank” umpires using the electronic strike zone currently undergoing testing in Triple-A this year. Under this system, pitchers and hitters would have the ability to challenge called balls and strikes.

Swisher stressed the importance of avoiding complacency at work, asserting that simply going through the motions is unacceptable. He emphasized that in today’s game, players’ careers hang in the balance, and each contest carries significant financial ramifications.

The fully automated strike zone is in its second year of implementation in Triple-A, but many baseball traditionalists are reluctant to engage in that discussion. Like others, Tino Martinez believes that adopting such technology would strip away the “natural” essence of the game. However, he also expresses a desire to see the best umpires officiating games, particularly during the postseason.

Martinez conveyed his preference for maintaining the traditional style of umpiring but advocated for a system that prioritizes the assignment of the highest-ranked umpires. He emphasized the importance of ensuring that the most skilled umpires are tasked with officiating games, rather than relying solely on seniority or tenure in the major leagues.

While acknowledging that umpires will never be infallible, even former players believe that current MLB competitors deserve officiating that comes as close to perfection as possible. There is a collective hope that a solution can be found to ensure fair play is consistently observed on any given night.

What do you think? Leave your comment below.

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