Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Jonathan Papelbon (58) argues with umpires D. J. Reyburn (70) and Derryl Cousins during the ninth inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Citizens Bank Park. The Dodgers defeated the Phillies 4-3. Mandatory Credit: Howard Smith-US PRESSWIRE
By Gabe Lacques, USA TODAY
Add Jonathan Papelbon to the list of players irate at the current state of affairs in major league umpiring.
Papelbon, the Philadelphia Phillies' closer, was livid with home-plate umpire D.J. Reyburn's work in the Phillies' 4-3 loss to the Dodgers on Monday. Papelbon was the losing pitcher, and thought he had struck out the Dodgers' Dee Gordon on a pitch before Gordon lined a double to key the winning rally.
After the inning, Papelbon confronted Reyburn, a fill-in umpire from Class AAA, and veteran Derryl Cousins stepped in to protect his young charge.
Bullying by Papelbon? Well, he teed off on Reyburn further in the postgame.
"I thought he sucked. ... He probably needs to go back to Triple-A. You're up in the big leagues to do a good job and when you don't do a good job you should be demoted or fired. It's just like anybody's job. If I don't do my job, I go down to Triple A. There's no room for that up here. It's not a knock on the umpires. It's the integrity of the game. You want to be able to go out there and play the game the way it should be played. All night long, from [Dodgers starter Clayton] Kershaw to [Phillies starter] Vance [Worley], all the way to the ninth inning, it affected the outcome of the game."
Monday's game was another sign of heightened tension - or perhaps decreased tolerance - between baseball's two groups of uniformed personnel. Earlier in Monday's game, Dodgers bench coach Trey Hillman was ejected, this two days after Yankees hitting coach Kevin Long was tossed along with manager Joe Girardi.
And all this a week after Jim Leyland, long an opponent of instant replay, let loose on an extended rant on umpire accountability after a blown call.
Major changes to instant replay could be coming in 2013. But there's little guarantee that will tamp down what appears to be - at least anecdotally - a fraying of nerves on both sides of the player-coach/ump relationship.