As I tuned in to watch Roy Halladay make his in game return to Toronto as a member of the Philadelphia Phillies I thought it would be an exciting game. No matter how cool Halladay is, I figured the emotion of coming back to the place where it all began would be overwhelming for the tall right hander. The city that treated him as a king gave him an ovation deserving of royalty as he took the field in the bottom of the 1st inning. Surely the first time he started a game in Toronto on the bench while his team was at bat. Oh, and give the props to the Phillies who waited in the dugout for Halladay to trot out to the mound by himself. Letting the fans give him a proper thank you before they start jeering him as the opposing pitcher.
Unfortunately this game will be marred by the absolutely terrible display put on by Alfonso Marquez. It was apparent that Marquez was going to make himself the centre of attention right from the first inning. When Toronto’s new hero Jose Bautista was wrung up on a 3-2 count while he trotted towards 1st with an apparent base on balls. As Pat Tabler showed us on the replay, the pitch trax perhaps called the pitch a strike right on the bottom part of the zone. However if your watched the top half of the inning you would see that at least 3 Phillies were given balls on the same pitch. You could see the frustration building through the innings as borderline pitches would go Halladay’s way but when the Jays were in the field the calls were clearly against them. You heard angry yelps from Aaron Hill, Jose Bautista, and notably Jon Rauch when blown call after blown call came from Marquez. You knew something was about to happen when Rauch threw 2 perfect pitches in a row, 1 on the corner and 1 at the knees of Ryan Howard only to have them called balls. He bent over with his hands on his knees in exasperation, shaking almost as if he was laughing at the ludicrous call. After Shane Victorino lashed the very next pitch into left for an RBI, Rauch let Marquez know what he thought about his strike zone. Of course this led to Rauch having to be held back by 3 coaches in a clip I’m sure we’ve all seen by now. However if you haven’t, here it is: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5xzeRV24oSI
Long story short the Blue Jays were beat by Roy Halladay and the Phillies. Halladay was spectacular, and his return to Rogers Centre was epic. In the 1st inning I tweeted the following:
After the Bautista strike out I tweeted:
At the time I called him star struck. Thinking maybe Doc Halladay was getting a couple benefit of the doubt calls. Thought maybe the emotion was getting to him too and it would settle out as the game went on. I thought maybe the Blue Jays would get some make-up calls later on. As we saw though the bias continued straight through to the 9th inning. This needs to be dealt with! Discipline for umpires is non-existant. Sure the umpires are rated every year but really what does that mean? So this year a bad rating for Marquez means he won’t get to umpire the World Series. That’s really not a punishment. When CB Buckner can be continually rated the worst umpire in the league by the players and still come back year after year tells us the umpire ranking system means nothing. I know the umpire union stands in the way, but something needs to be done. Maybe poorly ranked umpires can be sent to the minors, or suspended without pay. No matter what the MLB decides, they have to do something. Accountability needs to happen soon.
Instant replay with Managers Challenges would be a good place to start, but that’s a discussion for another day.
I’m interested in hearing your thoughts. Feel free to comment.