Laz Diaz has the reputation of being a terrible MLB umpire, especially when it comes to balls and strikes. He also likes to become the show.
Tuesday night at Camden Yards was a perfect night for a baseball game between the Baltimore Orioles and Washington Nationals. Temperature in the upper 50s, light wind, full moon. Two MLB teams, each with 20 or more wins, going head-to-head in the second game of a home-and-home four-game series. A perfect night until we find find out who has the plate. The incompetent showman Laz Diaz is calling balls and strikes, so the game will be a mystery.
The most mysterious thing will be the strike zone. Sometimes it will be off the plate outside, at other times it will be off the plate inside. Sometimes part of the plate itself will not be within the strike zone. Below the knees, above the letters will also be included at times, while above the knees and below the letters will occasionally be excluded. Who needs a rule book?
I hear people complain all of the time that truth has become relative in our society. Well, it certainly has in baseball. As replay tries to get more “judgment calls” right on the field, Laz Diaz has decided that the last place he has autonomy is behind home plate. No one can question him because he is the king. No matter that strikes are balls and balls are strikes: He is in charge and don’t you forget it.
The Joey Crawford of Baseball
As the game got tighter and the moments got bigger, Laz Diaz took over the game. He emphatically called balls strikes and dared players to say something. He missed pitches three inches inside the strike zone. I have heard him called the Joey Crawford of baseball (Crawford was a longtime NBA official who wanted to be the show) but that’s a real disgrace to Mr. Crawford. Joey Crawford was a better official than Diaz is an umpire and rarely appeared to deliberately favor one team over another.
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In the bottom of the ninth inning, with Enny Romero nervously trying to protect a two-run lead for the Nationals, Laz Diaz decides to call a balk. There are three other umpires watching the pitcher and his motion, but Diaz independently decides Romero didn’t pause. Replay shows he paused for two seconds as he does on every pitch. But the showman jumps out from behind the plate and calls a balk.
An obviously rattled pitcher alters his delivery and gives up a game-tying base hit. Congratulations Mr. Diaz, you got to be the show. Maybe you’ll make the highlight show on MLB Network. Good job.
And for Good Measure
But you’re not finished! After the inning ends, you chide Daniel Murphy, who you had called out on strikes on a pitch off the plate, into an argument. And again, congratulations, you got to determine the outcome of the game. By throwing last year’s runner-up for the National League MVP out of the game, you sure showed everyone who is really the king.
No one goes to a baseball game to watch the umpires umpire except their bosses and their families. All anyone expects is for umpires to be fair and unbiased while knowing the rules. The strike zone is not subjective. In the rule book it does not say “the strike zone is suggested to be from here to there or wherever you decide it should be.” Please, can we get an auto strike zone? Of course, then Laz Diaz will have to call lots of balks because they are not reviewable. It’s good to be the king!