Was Girardi actually fired by Loria only to be “re-hired” at the last second?
Was it really over a frustrating game and series of calls against the Dodgers that initiated the so-called rift?
Did Joe Girardi actually level profanity towards Jeffrey Loria in an attempt to keep his team – and the umpiring crew – focused on the game?
Or, was it a cunning and shrewd display put on by two bit actors in a grand drama designed to steer more attention towards a bad umpiring situation?
Regardless of what you believe, and there certainly will be conspiracies about it – from the supposed make-shift press conference ready to announce Girardi’s firing – lost in all of this episode is the fact that the Marlins lost three games to the Dodgers on a series of questionable calls.
And by series, I don’t mean just a few bad calls within a game, I mean an entire series that had some of us here scratching our teal-colored heads and wondering if there was some grand design to keep the Marlins down.
Think about it – what if a $15 million dollar payroll outperformed all the other wild card hopefuls in the National League and actually got a playoff berth. Would that be good for the game or a horrible black eye for Commish Bud and the MLBPA (minus Bonds, of course)? Well, while you contemplate that, and that in its fullest offers up plenty of incentive, there is still the question of whether or not there was a direct effect on the series for the Marlins.
Let’s just go back to the Dodger game in question, the one that has Loria and Girardi trading barbs like two heavyweight fighters before a showdown fit for pay-per-view. With the Marlins ahead 3-1 in the top of the 7th and one out, Kensing works a 2-2 count on Julio Lugo, of DRay fame, but has to leave with a sore elbow (which would later land him on the DL). In comes Taylor Tankersley who gets called immediately for two balls on pitches that were right down the middle of the plate. With bases loaded, a run forced in, Loria loses it and starts his barking – no different than any other fan in attendance – at Larry Vanover, the home ump in the third game of the series.
The night before, Joe Girardi was tossed because of arguing balls and strikes – in teh 2nd inning. What is not really kept in mind is the fact that even Miguel Olivo felt the umpire, Chris Guccione, was squeezing Josh Johnson’s strike zone and he made it known to Guccione. The rest was history. Olivo simply mentioned that call was the third call, by his estimation, that was right down the middle and called a ball. Guccione overreacted – by both Olivo’s and Girardi’s standards, sure, but Olivo never turned to face the umpire and Guccione instead came around from behind Olivo and started yelling at Olivo.
I am surprised Zidane didn’t just come out of the crowd and headbutt Olivo instead.
Again, this episode with Guccione – who has a bad reputation around MLB – got Girardi ejected. The next night, Loria is in the stands calling out the umpire’s strikezone, of none other than Larry Vanover.
Now, of course there is going to be some tension in this situation. The Marlins – and Dodgers, for that matter – are both trying to get to the playoffs and have legitimate chances (ok, the Marlins are still more of a longshot, but not too much so). The pressure was on.
Clearly the situation between both Girardi and Loria – whatever you may make of it – is one based on winning. Both men want to win and put that attitude on display. The fact that Girardi may have overstepped his bounds in how he handled himself with Loria – if speculative at worst – is just putting a blur on the entire strange incident.
What we had was a series of bad calls that may have cost the Marlins a game at the very least. This isn’t about sour grapes, but simply trying to pull out of the wreck something of importance: MLB umpires have had a tough go of it, and it was almost a blatant choice of negligence that was levied against the Marlins.
Perhaps there is a conspiracy to keep the Marlins far and clear of any postseason chances. Perhaps the Marlins $15M payroll and shadowy attempts at securing their new stadium have something to it. At any rate, the ‘rift’ in only a distracting piece of background noise and perhaps we need to focus on something else in the picture.
Besides, the Marlins open up their series on the road tonight in LA against the very same Dodgers. Let’s hope the umpiring is more consistent this time. And also, let’s hope to hear less about the Girardi vs. Loria face off. It’s like those old Wendy’s ads, “where’s the beef?”