Jul 17, 2021; Bronx, New York, USA; Third base umpire Laz Diaz (63) ejects Boston Red Sox catcher Kevin Plawecki (not pictured) and bench coach Will Venable (not pictured) from the game during the sixth inning against the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The 2022 season has not been great for MLB Umpires. Bad calls are becoming more noticeable and the calls for robot umpires are getting louder. And at least one umpire decided to fight back.

Former MLB player Will Middlebrooks recently spoke about the ongoing issue with umpires. He was frustrated in some aspects, citing an overall lack of accountability and incentive to get better. But he also pointed out that “it a very hard job” and asked a great question, “why does everyone else in the world have access to see whether it’s a ball or a strike except for the one guy that needs to know?” One could even argue that question is a defense of umpires. Veteran umpire Laz Díaz did not take it that way.

Díaz commented. And while Middlebrooks never mentioned anything about umpires hindering his own career, that’s the road Díaz took in his response.

MLB fans were quick to criticize Díaz for his defensive and off base reaction.


But perhaps the greatest argument came from another former player, Trevor Plouffe. He pointed out that while Díaz was trying to defend umpires, he actually made Middlebrooks’ point.

That’s hard to argue with.

The most you can say about Middlebrooks is that his career might have been extended for an extra year or two because of the hype he had coming in. But overall, Middlebrooks did have a disappointing MLB career — which ended before he turned 30.

Díaz has been an umpire since 1995, has umpired three World Series, four League Championship Series, seven Division Series, two Wild Card Games and two All-Star Games. Ángel Hernández, meanwhile, has been an umpire since 1991. He’s umpired two World Series, eight League Championship Series, 12 Division Series and three All-Star Games, despite consistently ranking as one of MLB’s worst umpires for more than 20 years.

As Middlebrooks and Plouffe both noted, bad players do not last long in the majors. Bad umpires are held to no such standard. Until that changes, the frustration will only mount, regardless of how defensive an umpire might be.

[Will Middlebrooks, Wake and Rake Podcast]

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