MLB umpires have seemingly come under increased scrutiny over poor performance in recent years, but at least one of them isn't taking it lying down.
Veteran umpire Laz Diaz touched off a bizarre social media feud with former MLB player turned podcaster Will Middlebrooks on Wednesday, when Diaz responded to the former Red Sox infielder's recent criticism of umpires by claiming it was merely sour grapes over his relatively disappointing career in the big leagues.
Umpire performance has been a topic on Middlebrooks' podcast, "Wake and Rake," in recent days. On Monday's episode, he proposed providing umps with enhanced technology and incentivizing good umpiring with bonuses, and he also claimed that bad umps are protected by their union.
Diaz responded in the comments:
"You are not an umpire & you do not know what goes on in the umpire world of life!! You as a player was supposed to be an outright superstar for Boston & you didn't live up to that!! So it's the umpire's fault ... Be real!!!"
Middlebrooks later fired back.
"very professional of you, Laz. If you don't want me to talk about umpires, then maybe keep my name out of your mouth as well. Not once did I blame an umpire for not staying healthy or for not playing well. Good to know those rabbit ears still work."
Umpiring has always been shall we say an "inexact science," but technological advances in recent years have put bad calls under a new high-powered microscope.
The replay review system, though flawed, has at least helped in reversing many of the blown calls on the field. But the advent of the K-Zone allows every fan, broadcaster, player and coach to see blown balls and strikes, sometimes countless times through the course of a game.
To Middlebrooks' point, giving umpires access to this vantage point only seems logical.
In any event, Diaz and his brethren in blue don't seem to appreciate the negative attention.