Should A.J. Pierzynski Be Punished for Lying to an Ump?

UPDATE: Rob Neyer responded to this post.

As he so often does, Rob Neyer asks an interesting question — and then declines to give an answer. On Tuesday, Ricky Romero absolutely dominated the White Sox. He didn’t give up a walk till the fourth, didn’t let the ball out of the infield till the 6th, and he took 12 strikeouts and a no-hitter into the 8th inning. At that point, White Sox catcher and sixth-place hitter A.J. Pierzynski decided to take matters into his own hands, writes Yahoo’s Andy Behrens:

Romero skipped a pitch in the dirt to Pierzynski leading off the eighth inning — not a terrible pitch, mind you, because AJ had been hacking at similar offerings all night. But late in the game with his team trailing 4-0, Pierzynski resisted the urge to swing. When the ball hit the ground near his feet, he began hopping as if an anvil had landed on his toe. But in fact, nothing had landed on his toe. Replays were clear. He had not been hit.

Rob Neyer points out that this isn’t just cute gamesmanship: it’s unethical and ought to be condemned, not praised.

“I don’t want to get into the awesome logistics that would be involved here … but, ethically speaking, isn’t there an argument to be made for punishing Pierzynski?…
It’s cheating, and in some quarters there are rules against such things.”

According to Rule 6.08(b) in the baseball Rulebook, a batter is entitled to first base on an HBP if “He is touched by a pitched ball which he is not attempting to hit unless (1) The ball is in the strike zone when it touches the batter, or (2) The batter makes no attempt to avoid being touched by the ball.” Pierzynski didn’t deserve first base, but the umpire, the on-field arbiter of truth, awarded it to him.

There isn’t much difference between this and a run-of-the-mill blown call. It’s not completely clear that he lied: after all, it’s conceivable that Pierzynski truly believed that he got hit, much as many a hitter will argue till he’s blue in the face that a called third strike was really a ball, or that he was really safe at first. Of course, it’s more likely that he knew the ball missed him, lied to the ump for his own advantage, and the ump wrongly believed him. That certainly wouldn’t be the first time a player (or a manager) has argued his own cause to an ump despite knowing he was wrong — it’s just one of the few times that it has ever actually worked.

Neyer’s right that it would be a logistical nightmare to institute a law prohibiting lying. (A good start might be expanding the use of instant replay, which would make it harder for a player like Pierzynski to lie his way on base.) A big problem is that umpires have fewer in-game modes of punishment at their disposal. In soccer and basketball, players who feign phantom injuries can be assessed personal penalties if they’re caught in a lie. In hockey, there are penalty minutes; in football, penalty yards. In baseball, the only way the umpire could have punished Pierzynski in the moment would be to have thrown him out of the game, which would have been excessive.

Still, I’m sympathetic to his point, especially because Pierzynski’s play is effectively the baseball equivalent of flopping in soccer and basketball: it’s bush league, it’s unsportsmanlike, it delays the game, and it creates a major moral hazard problem, because it incentivizes every other player to lie.

But how do you punish him? The commissioner’s office can’t very well levy a fine for doing something that isn’t prohibited in the rulebook, and public ostracism won’t make much of a difference either: A.J. Pierzynski has made a career of ticking off fanbases and clubhouses alike. As satisfying as it would be to punish a player for lying, it isn’t very practical — after all, it’s impossible to know exactly whether a player is genuinely mistaken or intentionally dissembling.

Ultimately, Neyer’s righteous indignation is understandable, but it’s misguided. Instead of focusing on the player’s motivations, we should aim for greater accuracy: vetting and replacing the worst umpires in baseball, and permitting instant replays to ensure that the right calls are being made.




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Alex is a writer for FanGraphs and The Hardball Times, and is a product manager for The Washington Post. Follow him on Twitter @alexremington.


179 Responses to “Should A.J. Pierzynski Be Punished for Lying to an Ump?”

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  1. Renegade says:

    I was at the game and Pierzynski got away with robbery. Seriously, is there a better douche in all of baseball than A.J? The most egregious part of it all is Umpire Extraordinaire Tim McClelland making yet another bad call and letting A.J just do his Academy Award winning dance to first base. Ugh.

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    • Renegade says:

      P.S. the best part of it all is John Buck saying that A.J. is an incredible actor and figured that since he wasn’t going to get a hit anyways, he might as well lie to get to first.

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      • SleepNowInTheFire says:

        Just last week McLouth pretended he caught a ball that he knew he didn’t, then gunned it to first for the double play. Aramis Ramirez stood at second, stunned that the umps didn’t see the ball hit the ground. McLouth said nothing and what could’ve been runners on first and second turned into a double play- a possibly game changing call.

        ESPN was all over it on sports center that night, but there was no outcry bemoaning McLouth as a cheater. And it’s not like he thought he caught it; he picked the ball off the grass with his throwing hand…

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    • Axis of Honor 25 says:

      Yeah but the difference between A.j. Pierzynski and John Buck is that Pierzynski can actually hit. Also Pierzynski is just doing what he can to get his team a win. He found a weakness and took advantage. And cmon, what other baseball player can get an entire division fan-base to boo him five years later over a play that he had no control over after the WS? Now that’s talent. Ask Kelvim Escobar, he can vouch on who’s fault that was.

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  2. Chris says:

    So he joins Yunel Escobar, who did it twice, in douchebaggery.

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  3. ChrisD says:

    I was watching when this happened. I don’t like it but agree, there isn’t much that can be done now.

    My question is, is this any different than opening day when against the Cubs McLouth clearly dropped that hit from Ramirez but the umps called him out anyway?

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    • scatterbrian says:

      No it is not. Except most people don’t like AJ, and don’t really know who McLouth is.

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      • Alex says:

        Its not like McLouth played it up like he had caught it. He immediately grimaced after dropping the ball and was simply trying to get the ball in ASAP to keep the runner from advancing. Its not his fault the umps missed it and he has no obligation to tell the ump that he didn’t catch it.

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      • aldimond says:

        @Alex: If this were a weightier issue than baseball I think McLouth would be obligated to tell the truth, and would be held accountable if he were later found to be lying. As this is tax season, it’s worth noting that I don’t think the IRS would have much sympathy for “no obligation” in an audit.

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      • Alex says:

        You’re comparing a legal obligation to pay your taxes to a player in a game not going up to the umpire and telling him he missed a call. Do you realize how asinine that is?

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  4. Tom B says:

    It’s called gamesmanship… he outplayed the umpire. this has been going on since… the beginning of sports. ever watched a soccer game before?

    Anyone want to talk about how the human element of umpiring baseball is so important now? Bring on the lasers.

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    • Jimbo says:

      Gamesmanship is part of the game. The catcher framing a pitch, or a runner faking a stolen base right before a pitch.

      Dishonesty shouldn’t be part of the game.

      How do I tell my son that honesty is something to live by…unless he’s in a sports environment?!

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      • scatterbrian says:

        For starers, don’t use sports as a way to teach your kid about life.

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      • Paul says:

        If you know of a single arena of life where everybody tells the truth or provides a good example for children, please provide the list. I can’t be the only one who has never heard of such a thing.

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      • JoeyO says:

        “For starers, don’t use sports as a way to teach your kid about life.”

        …because learning to play well with others, be respectful in defeat and most importantly, follow rules, is just not what you should want your kid to learn at all.

        Instead bring him in the house, plop him in front of a XBox and give him a copy of grand theft auto. He’ll be set…

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      • scatterbrian says:

        I probably should have specified “professional” sports. Regardless, while those qualities are all admirable ones to want to instill in your children, don’t be surprised if you don’t always find them in a competitive atmosphere.

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      • vivaelpujols says:

        How is framing a pitch different than pretending to get hit by one?

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      • dickey simpkins says:

        “How do I tell my son that honesty is something to live by…unless he’s in a sports environment?!”

        Except cheating has been part of the game for centuries, so maybe you should just teach your kid to love cricket.

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    • Daern says:

      @ JoeyO: If you think the only two options for raising a child are a) teach him with pro sports or b) give him a violent video game, you don’t deserve to raise a kid. xD

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      • JoeyO says:

        not sure where I said they were the only two options…

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      • pounded clown says:

        Daern – your strawmaning it. And
        “you don’t deserve to raise a kid” … a bit heavy handed

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      • Daern says:

        You said, and I quote, “…because learning to play well with others, be respectful in defeat and most importantly, follow rules, is just not what you should want your kid to learn at all.

        Instead bring him in the house, plop him in front of a XBox and give him a copy of grand theft auto. He’ll be set…”

        I thought that was pretty clear. I get that there was an element of facetiousness to that, as was there to my comment.

        Pounded clown: I’m not strawmanning, I’m using the two options he offered. And, heavy-handed? Yes. Serious? Not really.

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      • JoeyO says:

        Daern,

        I listed one of the best ways to help a child develop; one I specifically had to include since, you know, it was the conversation and it was the one being dismissed by the “don’t use sports” comment and all.

        Oh, then I mentioned one the most popular at this time.

        So draw whatever assumptions you like and try to twist that into saying whatever you want, but …

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      • Daern says:

        @ JoeyO: Video games are the most popular way of raising a child? They may be popular with kids, but I highly doubt that a majority of parents are under the impression that it provides a good upbringing.

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      • JoeyO says:

        Oh my Lord…

        “one”, “one”, “one”

        and yeah, with how many people choose to do little more then plop their kid in front of a TV? You dont consider that being an issue in the world today?

        but you will probably reply again, again trying to nitpick or twist something into something else; in your quest of, well who knows…

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  5. Sam says:

    “after all, it’s conceivable that Pierzynski truly believed that he got hit, much as many a hitter will argue till he’s blue in the face that a called third strike was really a ball, or that he was really safe at first.”

    I have no idea how that is possible. Did a brick come and hit him at the same time as the ball was passing his leg, which made him truly believe he got hit? Third strike being a ball is a matter of subjective opinion, simply because the strike zone is an arbitrary and imaginary zone that is open to interpretation. Whether someone is being hit or not is a fact, and not really subject to belief.

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    • Tom B says:

      According to Rule 6.08(b) in the baseball Rulebook, a batter is entitled to first base on an HBP if “He is touched by a pitched ball which he is not attempting to hit unless (1) The ball is in the strike zone when it touches the batter, or (2) The batter makes no attempt to avoid being touched by the ball.”

      Wasn’t there a bunted ball, batter got hit on the hands pulling away thing in the playoffs last year? Looks like they got that wrong too.

      Actually, the way it reads, it looks like they get this rule wrong on a daily basis.

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  6. PG says:

    I think it’s kind of ridiculous that so much attention is being paid to this. If it was anyone else, it wouldn’t be that big of a deal. Players try to sell umpires all the time. Outfielders trap balls and pretend they caught them, pitchers walk off the mound towards the dugout when there’s 2 strikes 2 out and they think they’ve thrown strike 3. Batters do the same in 3 ball counts going to first before the call.

    What about during the White Sox/Indians series when Mike Redmond flipped his elbow out on an 0-2 count to get hit on purpose? Technically he didn’t try to get out of the way, but he pretending he did and took first base. Was he cheating too? No, he was trying to help his team win. It’s the umpires fault for blowing the call.

    This is such a non-story it’s comical.

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    • Alex says:

      Its a story because Romero had a no hitter going at the time and pitching from the stretch could conceivably have been the difference in him continuing on and giving up the homer to Rios. That’s really the only reason. As mentioned above Yunel Escobar did the same thing twice in the past, but because it wasn’t in the same sort of situation it didn’t get any play outside of a Phillies blog.

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  7. Handwasher says:

    So, is pitch-framing lying, too? Or trying to sell a check-swing as a non-swing?

    Bottom line, the ump needs to be actually, you know, paying attention.

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    • mcrawford620 says:

      Seriously. His actions do seem a little dishonest, in that I probably wouldn’t do it in a pickup game of softball with friends.

      But can we even think of punishing something like that, when we happily allow:
      pivot men coming off the bag before catching the ball,
      fielders holding up a ball as if he caught it, when he actually dropped it or trapped it,
      faking anything, trying to deceive the other team, and so on.

      For that matter, if you were expecting total honesty, wouldn’t you see a lot more guys voluntarily walking off the field after getting tagged out? They never do that because they wait to see what the umpire actually called.

      For better or worse, it’s not a self-policing game. You don’t “call your own fouls.”

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  8. PG says:

    It’s just funny this is such a big deal. I was watching a game between the Blue Jays and Orioles last week where Vernon Wells trapped a fly ball, and then lifted his glove up to the umpire like he caught it. When the ump said it was in fact a trap, and not a catch, the cameras showed Wells giving a wry smile. He knew he didn’t make the catch. But he (Oh, good heavens no!) lied to the umpire that he did. I guess he should be punished too, right? Where’s his thread?

    And this isn’t me blasting Wells. It’s just an effort to show how commonplace lying to the umpire really is.

    If anybody should be punished, it’s McClelland for being such a dummy. Not Pierzynski.

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    • Jimbo says:

      So lying is okay then?

      Hey…lying is part of politics, let’s just accept it.
      Spouses all over the world lie to each other, so it must be part of relationships.
      My kids might lie to me in their lifetime, part of being a kid right? I’ll just accept that too.

      I don’t think anything can be done about it, but if Wells knew he didn’t catch the ball, and AJ knew he wasn’t hit…both of them are cheating liars. The fact they share that label doesn’t make lying okay.

      When such a simple thing as being honest gets forgotten, we’re in trouble.

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  9. Walt says:

    Will the umpire remember this and punish AJ in the future by giving him a slightly larger strike zone when he’s at bat, or tightening the zone when he’s be hind the plate? Umps and other officials don’t like being shown up.

    I do agree with others that this is technically no different than selling a tag, or catch to sway the umpire, but baseball has very little acceptance for cheaters when there’s a bat in their hand.

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    • slogue617 says:

      Agreed with Walt.

      This post – and Neyer’s article – seems to be targeted at the people leading a moral crusade against steroid users. What Pierzynski did was dishonest and wrong because it gave him an undeserved advantage over his opponent, an advantage he never should have had. That much is not in dispute. But the fact is it’s one of only a hundred little ways by which players try to cheat the game on a daily basis. To single out PED users – and give guys like Pierzynski a free pass – strikes me as disingenuous and unfair.

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      • wobatus says:

        They may both be “cheating” and there can be degrees of “bad behavior.” Not that they are the same, but I don’t call someone a hypocrite because they jaywalk and also condemn murder. So, if people don’t make a stink about what AJ did, that means they can’t complain about PED? And anyway, who is defending AJ?

        The problem with PED is it is a sluippery slope. Science is going to get to the point where cyborgs can play sports. hell, I guess I should be condemning Tommy John surgey. Damn complicated subject. Think I’ll go watch a ballgame and forget about it.

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  10. qudjy1 says:

    Is a catcher “framing” a pitch (bringing it back over the plate after caught) considered lying???

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    • Jimbo says:

      Not at all. The catcher doesn’t know if the pitch will be called a ball or a strike. Also doesn’t know if his framing it will help or hinder the call (I often suspect that catchers framing pitches might work against them…depending how much the glove moves).

      He’s doing his job, and I’d file that under the sort of gamesmanship that IS part of the game. There is nothing unethical about that. Umpires are aware of it and it is their job to call pitches best they can.

      Trotting to first base when nothing hit you? Not part of the game. If the umpire cannot see your foot and is forced to either take your word for it or call you a liar…that makes the whole situation about the player’s deception.

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      • scatterbrian says:

        “Also doesn’t know if his framing it will help or hinder the call…”

        Oh come on, Jimbo. Framing a pitch helps sell it to an umpire. If they didn’t think it helps, they wouldn’t be doing it. Pierzynski sold the umpire on a hit-by-pitch. There is nothing different about the two except for your opinion on what is gamesmanship and what is cheating. Semantics.

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      • Paul says:

        So if a batter argues balls and strikes (without actually arguing balls and strikes, since that’s, you know, against the rules), and the ump tells him he’s wrong it was a strike, is the ump calling the batter a liar? Let’s say he is. I get the sense that umps have no problem whatsoever calling a player a liar. By your logic, the batter’s deception is key here, so should we punish batters who try to convince an ump that he’s been hit but the ump doesn’t buy it, as McClelland did? I’ll bet we could find a lot more examples of that.

        Umps are not going to give A.J. the benefit of the doubt at all now after chumping one of their most senior members. There’s your punishment, and it will be far more detrimental to his team than a couple days on the bench without pay.

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      • Jimbo says:

        I disagree. With a framed pitch, the umpire may have called it a strike either way…and might call it a ball either way. Selling an umpire on a ball/strike call is entirely different than “selling” him on something that is completely fabricated by the player.

        If an OF traps the ball and doesn’t know it, by all means make it look like a catch. Every.Single.Time. When the OF knows he didn’t make the catch and STILL tries to sell it as an out, that’s pissing on the essence of competition to manipulate the “human component” of umpiring through willful deception.

        Two totally different occurances.

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      • JoeyO says:

        “Oh come on, Jimbo. Framing a pitch helps sell it to an umpire. If they didn’t think it helps, they wouldn’t be doing it.”

        To keep from moving in the other direction and in turn making a borderline strike get called a ball?

        You are talking about an extremely close judgment call that could go either way every single time. Framing a pitch is similar to a hitter preparing to walk to first before an ump calls ball 4 – its a person casually pointing out to the umpire what they think they saw themselves.

        Now, did AJ think he saw himself get hit in the foot? Nope, he was taking something he knew to be false that could only be called false and portraying it to his benefit.

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      • Eric says:

        Jimbo- I don’t mean this to come off wrong but, what world exactly are you living in? You expect athletes, who make a living off of playing and winning a game, are not going to try to sneak one past the umps? How is that even reasonable? In what sport or in what facet of life is there complete honesty? When a catcher frames a pitch it’s because they think the pitch is a ball, and they want it to look like a strike, and that’s it. Catchers never frame balls they think are strikes because that makes no sense. There isn’t any more honesty in pitch framing or acting like you caught a fly ball when you know you didn’t than there is in acting like a ball that didn’t hit you.

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      • Jimbo says:

        @ Eric (and others)

        My issue isn’t with AJ. It isn’t with my “expectations” of professional athletes. What I’m most offended by is how casually people are defending him…as if there is NOTHING wrong with his lying and intentional deception.

        All around us, every day, we employ personal standards on others. When someone cuts you off in traffic, you get mad because they didn’t respect your space. When someone throws litter in your front yard, that’s upsetting because it is your property. Regularly we say things like “it isn’t fair.” There are many examples of what we (as humans) think is “fair play.” And we EXPECT, at least to some degree, for others to know those ‘rules’ also and abide by them.

        I don’t care if 99.99999999% of everyone who has ever taken a breath has also told a lie…that fact alone does not justify the act of lying. Yet, that seems to be the primary argument in AJ’s defense.

        THAT is what I take issue with. Too many replies here that sound to me like “lying is okay, in the right circumstance, if it is simply following precedent.”

        Dumbest logic ever.

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      • Eric says:

        I am not here to condone lying but you playing this holier-than-thou ethical police officer just makes you come off like you have a very unrealistic view of the world. What I personally am trying to convey is, so what? You seem to be driven by your desire to have your children grow up in an environment where lying isn’t a way to get ahead, which is admirable. The truth of the matter is though, lying IS one way to get ahead, and it happens in sports all the time, but if they are mostly white lies, why get all up in arms about it? Honesty is important by itself, but integrity alongside honesty is what is really important. If you’re trying to teach your kids that no one ever lies and everyone gets where they want to be by being perfectly honest and righteous then you’re just lying to them, and they will figure that out on their own sooner or later. Instead, if you teach your kids right from wrong then an MLB player lying to an umpire will be seen by your kids, as it is obviously seen by you, as a dishonest thing to do, and a thing that should be shunned upon. I don’t think anyone is saying that lying is the right thing to do, we are saying that getting all up in arms about one example of something that happens multiple times in every game is stupid.

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      • Jimbo says:

        @ Eric.

        Great post!

        The whole aspect of wanting to use baseball as a means of shaping the character of my children has gotten blown out of proportion. I mentioned it in response to the “so what?” people had proposed. Meaning there are implications–slight though they may be–which are part of this conversation. Baseball, and all of professional sports, are not akin to a G movie. I’m sorry if I overstated, or mis-stated, what I was trying to convey.

        My beef is with the “it’s okay” crowd. That so many people don’t care about the dishonesty angle suprises me.

        What exactly does “holier than thou ethical police officer” mean? Have I called someone a bad name, or sinner, or predicted their eternal damnation? I’m on a “moral crusade” now for what…saying honesty is good? I guess that’s “just me” and I should keep silly notions like that to myself eh.

        Better yet, I’ll try to conform to the majority norms instead of Truth.

        Jimbo’s revised creed:
        Honesty isn’t something we should value, or promote.
        Getting the job done by any means necessary is what really matters.
        Bending rules is genius strategy, best is to find a loophole that doesn’t even have a rule to apply.
        If “x” percentage of the population regularly does “y” action, it is always a good thing to emulate.
        Don’t expect (or offer) fairness in life when dealing with: sports, professional settings, corporations, cell phone bills, or anything remotely involved with money, people, or software from Microsoft.

        Sarcasm aside, I’ve never claimed the moral high ground for myself here. I’m simply pointing at some ambiguous set of life-rules that I thought everyone kinda sorta agreed upon. Not only was I wrong, but have now been bashed and mocked for it?? Wow.

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      • Eric says:

        Jimbo- That was probably a little harsh and somewhat influence by things not baseball related, so I apologize if I sounded like an asshole, I just meant that you obviously have much stronger feelings about this than most people and it might have been rubbing people the wrong way. I agree that it’s not part of the game to lie, and no one is calling for people to emulate that strategy. I think it was a bush league move and I myself shun upon it, but only a liiiiiittle bit more than other things, and mostly because A.J. has a spotty past. I think as much as I maybe have exaggerated your claims, you are doing the same to the claims of the crowd that sees this as less of a deal. Honesty is ideal, sure, but I would go out on a limb here and say that even you may be guilty of white lies now and then. Ever tell your children there is a Santa Claus? All that is is a lie told to children to get them to behave so they get presents on Christmas. Now it’s not going to ruin your kids futures or anything but acting like you got hit in the foot by a baseball also isn’t going to change anything much.

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      • Jimbo says:

        My kids being just 1 and 3, just last holiday season I actually struggled with the Santa Claus thing. Ha!

        But yes, I do wonder what sort of precedent it sets to have them grow up “believing” in Santa Claus, at my urging, only to find out that Daddy told them a fictional story in the context of truth. Still not sure how to best handle that whole thing…

        And you are correct that I’m seeing a mountain where others see a mole hill. I don’t feel good about the general decline of virtue in this country (US), or the direction it is going. From athletes to movie stars to presidents…it is getting harder and harder to find good role models. Regardless of parenting skills, kids are influenced by those in the spotlight.

        As far as my moral fortitude, I feel pretty safe in the assumption that nobody contributing to this conversation holds a candle to my personal list of wrongdoing. But hey, just because a criminal knows the law doesn’t mean he abides by it eh?

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      • Daern says:

        @ Jimbo: I’ve been a little harsh towards you at other point in these comments, and I apologize. However, I still object to your stance here. You talk about the general decline in “virtue”; what you have to understand is that “virtue” is subjective. Completely subjective. There is no object moral code that the world must follow. There are laws, and they may be based on the moralistic tendencies of the countries that enact them, but you should not expect your idea of right and wrong to be the one others follow. There is nothing inherent in humans that makes any one path more correct than another.

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  11. PG says:

    Walt: I agree with you on everything other than baseball not having acceptance for cheaters. All you need to do is look at the Hall of Fame. Baseball has a lot of acceptance for cheaters – other than those who cheat with PED’s. It’s kind of funny actually that Gaylord Perry is in the Hall of Fame, but Barry Bonds might not be. I’m not saying I disagree with this fact, it’s just kind of strange. But I guess that’s a whole other story.

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    • NBarnes says:

      [i]it’s kind of funny actually that Gaylord Perry is in the Hall of Fame, but Barry Bonds might not be.[/i]

      This is one of my primary exhibits against the ‘Steroids are unlike anything that happened before and Barry Bonds is History’s Greatest Monster’.

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    • JoeyO says:

      Pud Gavin was using a PED (nicknamed “Monkey Juice” since it was generated using monkey testosterone) back in the 1890s.

      He was inducted in 1965, and no one today is calling for his dismissal from the hall.

      But that makes sense; known PED users are treated like they helped create the game while suspected PED users should be treated like they ruined it

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  12. Disco Burritos says:

    It’s a little lame that he did it during a no-hitter, but at least he didn’t break the no-hitter. But can’t the Blue Jays just take care of this themselves the next time he comes up to bat?

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    • CSJ says:

      I agree. In the next appropriate game situation, a Blue Jay pitcher should “unintentionally” hit A.J. for real this time.

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      • oPlaiD says:

        Isn’t it a bit ironic, “punishing” your opponent by letting him get on base?

        I never understood that part of baseball. If I was a player I’d be happy to let them put me on. Anything to help my team, especially if it means the opposing pitcher has a chance of getting ejected.

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      • Bronnt says:

        oPlaiD, clearly you’ve never been hit by a 95 MPH fastball. It’s anything but a happy situation.

        Just because ballplayers man-up and act stoic through it doesn’t it mean doesn’t leave a very nasty bruise.

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    • B-Chad says:

      Yeah, this was my thinking. Obviously this is a perfect example of where players can “police themselves,” so to speak. If I’m Romero the next time I face AJ P I’m ear holing him.

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      • Bill says:

        He shouldn’t ear hole him. Intentionally hurling an object at someones head at 95 miles per hour is a lot worse than lying. I think a fastball to the body would be more appropriate.

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  13. Kris says:

    People are such crybabies. Players lying to/deceiving umpires happens ALL THE TIME. Not sure how this Pierzynski incident is so much different.

    Exactly how would you like sports played?

    “Oh you called that a strike? Umpire sir, that was a ball. Please tell my opponent he may have first base. Thank you.”

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    • This was a much greater element of the game in the 19th century, when baseball was a purely amateur game played by gentleman’s clubs. Games were largely self-umpired. Once the game went professional, some of that honesty and sportsmanship started to erode. (I’d recommend Peter Morris’s “But Didn’t We Have Fun?” as a good primer to 19th-century preprofessional baseball.)

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    • Jimbo says:

      Do you ever play pickup basketball?

      Usually it is up to the shooter to call a foul.

      There are blatant fouls, there are fouls that don’t get called (like when a shot is made), and there are fouls that get called but never happen.

      When some jerk misses a shot and calls a foul just to save face I get very angry. Nothing you can do about it, but that’s a lot like what AJ did.

      I expect as much honesty in sports as other walks of life. I’d like sports to be played in a way that doesn’t show my children how to manipulate the system.

      Is that too much to ask?

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      • Daern says:

        Yes. Because it ain’t A.J.’s, or any other hitter’s, job to meet your moral standards which, by the way, aren’t the same as everyone else’s. A.J,’s job in that situation was to get on base. He did, and he didn’t break the rules of the game. If that doesn’t meet your moral code…too bad.

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      • Alex says:

        I’d like you to stop your moral crusading on a site about baseball statistics.

        Is that too much to ask?

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      • Jimbo says:

        @ Daern.

        According to your logic, ANY effort to win is justified as long as the rules aren’t broken. You must have been pretty bummed out when they banned PEDs. I simply view winning as secondary to personal integrity and honest competition.

        @ Alex

        Yes, I suppose that is too much to ask. Especially when the title of the post is a non-sabermetric question about lying. ;-)

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      • Daern says:

        @ Jimbo: I made a point to mention that what A.J. did was within the rules. When P.E.D.s were within the rules, or rather not against them, the stats put up by enhanced athletes were legitimate. Now that they’re banned, anyone who is currently using P.E.D.s or used them at any point after the rule change is someone I’d disagree with.

        So, if you take my logic COMPLETELY out of context, then yes, I am arguing that. ^^

        My main argument, in all seriousness, is that I dispute your claim of “personal integrity and honest competition”. Morality is relative, and so your moral code is not the one these players should be expected to follow.

        The only thing we should punish them for not following? The laws and rules of the game. Because that’s what they’re beholden to, not your idealism.

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      • Alex says:

        @ Jimbo

        The question is should AJ Piezynski be punished for lying, not is lying okay in other walks of life, is lying okay in general, or anything like that. If you’re worried that your children are going to think lying is okay because they saw someone do it in a sporting event, then you clearly aren’t too confident in your ability to raise your own children. Use a situation like this as a chance to teach your children that lying is wrong, even if you get away with it. Show them the all the articles that have been written about Pierzynski lying. Its not baseball’s responsibility to teach your children moral lessons.

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      • Jimbo says:

        @ Daern

        How was what AJ did within the rules?

        According to the rules, you get first base if hit by a pitch. He wasn’t hit by a pitch. AND HE KNEW IT. (Or at least that’s the assumption we’re debating.)

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      • JoeyO says:

        Jimbo,

        he specifically broke this rule:

        A player can leave the batters box (“but not the dirt area surrounding home plate”) only after one of the following
        Batter swings at a pitch (didnt happen)
        Batter hit by pitch (didnt happen)
        Granted time (didnt happen)
        Play on runner attempted (didnt happen)
        Batter feints bunt (didnt happen)
        Wild pitch or passed ball (didnt happen)
        Pitcher leaves mound (didnt happen)
        catcher leaves catchers box (didnt happen)

        Not only did AJ leave the box, but he also left the surrounding area without one of the above taking place.

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      • Daern says:

        @ JoeyO & Jimbo: Aha, now we enter different ground. Basically, would you not have been so huffy had he not left the box, and instead convinced the umpire, while remaining in the legal are, to award him the base? Because if the umpire tells him to go to first, he can leave the box.

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  14. Mark says:

    Reminds me of the ARod incident a year or two ago (again in TOR, I believe) where he yelled ‘got it’ (or whatever) to the IF as he ran by, leading the IF to let the ball drop. Technically, there’s nothing wrong with it, but it’s cheap – like hopping down the line as if you were hit.

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    • JoeyO says:

      Or trying to slap the ball out of the pitchers hand as he tries to tag you out.

      …oh, that was ARod as well, wasnt it?

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  15. Boom Boom says:

    Bean him in the butt his next time up. Move on.

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  16. PG says:

    “Bean him in the butt his next time up. Move on.”

    Thank you.

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  17. Part-Time Pariah says:

    Wow. Just wow. It’s the umpire’s dumbass fault, and MLB’s for not instituting unconditional replay.

    Don’t hate the player (as the saying goes), hate the game. This article is bush-league.

    As a previous poster stated, if this was ANY other player, it’d be dust in the wind…

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    • Renegade says:

      Yes.. it’s the article’s fault that AJ is a chronic lying scumbag.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

    • JT says:

      Please do NOT institute unconditional replay. The guy got a free walk–big deal. We’re supposed have to wait two minutes while the umpire checks to be sure–plus another few minutes while AJ and manager come out and put on a show arguing with the ump to defend AJ’s initial act? Then we have to wait a few minutes on even more calls that were called correctly but were close, regardless of whether they change the likely outcome of the game.

      Baseball is slow enough as is.

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      • Rayskins says:

        “bring on the lazers”
        The never ending drumbeat for technology to assure “The perfect game” , to make it “accurate”, always seems to be lead by technogeeks trying to make themselves relavent to the game.
        “We have the technology,we can make it better” they say. For who?
        The pitcher didn’t seem as upset about it as the “bloggers” do.
        As a fan I say to the sabermatricians and analyst and cyber-experts: “Keep blogging baby. Thats as close to the game as I want you.”

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    • Eric says:

      Rayskins- It must be a huge surprise to you that probably better than half the teams in the MLB have “sabermatricians and analyst and cyber-experts” in the clubhouse helping make player personel decisions.

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  18. DCHASE says:

    Why is Herman Munster still umpiring MLB games? After that blown call in the Yankees/Angels playoff (Cano standing three feet off the base and called safe) where his excuse was “I didn’t see it”…if you can’t see a guy three feet off the base when he’s tagged you can’t see enough to umpire.

    Essentially, AJ did break up the no-hitter. He might as well have tried to bunt his way on. It’s not up to MLB to punish him, it’s up to Romero’s teammates. The next time AJ steps into the box he should be reminded of the difference between getting ALMOST hit and the real thing.

    +6 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Jon says:

      +1 to this. That’s how things have always been sorted out in the past, and that’s how it’s going to happen now. Street justice is just as effective as MLB levying a fine.

      I don’t understand what’s going on with the umps these days. According to the rules, if you stand motionless in the batters box (or go through your normal pitch taking routine) and you get drilled, be it in the foot, the uni or square in the back, you don’t get first base. You MUST wince before impact, dodge or otherwise try to protect yourself to be awarded a HBP. Even if that’s not how it’s commonly enforced, that IS the rule. No amount of after-the-fact pain, real or faked, should change the fact that the rules say that’s not a HBP.

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    • Bill says:

      MLB needs to trip the umpires into voluntarily resigning again. That’s how they got rid of Yankees’ season ticket holder Rich Garcia. May he die a thousand deaths.

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  19. Dealer A says:

    No less than 3 times already this year Prince Fielder has been hit by a pitch and denied being hit in order to continue his at bat. It worked one of the three times.

    The reason he even gets hit half of the time is because his jersey is twice as big as it needs to be and so the pitch catches some of his jersey. If replay can’t be instituted on HBP, at the very least there should be regulations of the size of a players jersey and protective gear. In this era where OBP is so valued, it behooves players to wear extra layers to increase their chances of getting on base…….unless you’re Prince.

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    • DL80 says:

      I always think it’s ridiculous when a batter gets “hit” because it nicked his jersey. In my mind, if it doesn’t connect with flesh, it’s not an HBP. And I know there is no way to really distinguish between a jersey getting hit and flesh getting hit underneath that jersey, but the huge shirts are ridiculous.

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    • pounded clown says:

      If I managed a ball club: Homer Simpson moo-moos would be standard issue

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  20. Dan V. says:

    There’s a great penalty for faking a HBP – call the batter out or give them a strike. Whatever they use as the same penalty for not moving out of the way of a batted ball.

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    • pounded clown says:

      Unfortunately that isn’t called enough. I’m a Phillies fan and I’ve watched Utley does this a couple of times and think he should be called out…but hey until they call it , take the free base…heh, heh

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      • DCHASE says:

        With guys like Utley and Jeter, they really need to enforce the provision that if the pitch would have been a strike and it hits the batter, it’s still a strike. The way these guys lean into/dive through the strike zone they should get hit.

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  21. Bronnt says:

    Seriously, this happens at least once a week-somebody playing like the pitch hit them. Almost always, the umpires get it right. Two or three guys getting away with this per season does not ruin the integrity of the game. Those trying to make some kind of moral equivalence between this and PEDs are crazy. This adds like .004 to a guy’s end of season OBP. PEDs let Barry Bonds add about .100 to his OBP, and another .200 to his SLG, while enjoying career years at age 36 and 37.

    If you’re going to make a big deal out of this, you need to start making a big deal every time a first baseman pulls his foot off the bag as he’s catching the ball to extend his stretch, or every time a middle infielder touches and leaves second base before catching the feed from their counterpart.

    Catchers pull mitts back toward the strike zone on fringe pitches. Fielders try to play off every time they trap a ball. In the first game of the season, Yunel Escobar convinced a Cubs’ runner that he was fielding a ball that was lined into RF, and the man pulled up on second instead of advancing to third (can’t remember who the runner was).

    I suppose the next step is to regulate the length of pitchers’ fingernails, to prevent anything from getting an advantage for throwing their breaking stuff.

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    • Wally says:

      Bronnt,

      “PEDs let Barry Bonds add about .100 to his OBP, and another .200 to his SLG, while enjoying career years at age 36 and 37.”

      Please don’t pull numbers out of your ass. Especially while posting to a statistically inclined website.

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      • Bronnt says:

        I understand that the effect of PEDs is immeasurable. I also understand that Bonds was a career .430ish OBP guy until age 36, where he posted 4 straight seasons over .500. And his career slugging was around .600 until 2000, where he was up to .688, .863, .799, .749, and .812.

        I didn’t just make that shit up, or pull it out of my ass-it’s on this very website. It happened, and completely defies everything we know about aging curves. Is it possible that his trainer just stumbled onto a brilliant new program? Sure. It’s also possible that God decided to make Bonds his chosen baseball champion. But I don’t believe either.

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      • Wally says:

        Bronnt,

        You certainly did pull it out of your ass.

        Just because hitters on average peak from age 27-31 or what ever the real number is these days, does not mean any one player perfectly follows that curve. Attributing an individual’s deviation from the general aging curve to any one factor, and to even put numbers to that factor, is complete and total horse crap.

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      • JoeyO says:

        Hank Aaron was a career .564 SLG and .939 OPS guy by the time he was 36. In his age 37-39 seasons he provided a .609 SLG and 1.010 OPS on average with career years at the ages of 37 and 39.

        Clearly you just proved Aaron must have been using steroids…

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      • Bronnt says:

        Joey, it’s a little bit ridiculous to compare a late career spike of .070 OPS points to a spike of .348 points. Especially when Aaron really only had 2 outlier seasons compared to 5 for Bonds.

        Wally, you’re right that I can’t accurately discern the effect that steroids had on them, but the fact that he was two standard deviations (or damn near close to it, I can’t remember) beyond his projections, I’m certain that they had an effect, and it was substantial.

        I used those numbers because it’s clear that there’s a magnitude of difference between the effects of PEDs versus a guy convincing an ump to award him first base. If he successfully does this twice in 600 plate appearances, he’s added .003 to his OBP. Whatever effect PEDs had on Bonds, it was much higher than that by an order of magnitude.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Wally says:

        Bronnt,

        “but the fact that he was two standard deviations (or damn near close to it, I can’t remember) beyond his projections, I’m certain that they had an effect, and it was substantial.”

        This is also BS. I suppose you can think what ever you want, but in truth you have no way of determining how much of Barry’s offensive explosion was or was not due to steroids.

        “I used those numbers because it’s clear that there’s a magnitude of difference between the effects of PEDs versus a guy convincing an ump to award him first base.”

        And I regect this asinine argument. You picked the one guy you think, but have no way of actually proving, benefited the most from steroids. How many players could I pick that have failed drug tests and suck, plus never saw a spike in production? At least we KNOW AJ got first base by cheating.

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      • JoeyO says:

        Bronnt,

        a 115 SLG point increase over the previous three seasons, a 35% increase in HR% while ages 37-39 over the years prior, 5 of your 6 highest HR% after the age of 35 and 3 of your top 5 seasons ever is just a late career spike? It “completely defies everything we know about aging curves” if you ask me… And what did you say that means?

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • JoeyO says:

        Wally,

        “How many players could I pick that have failed drug tests and suck, plus never saw a spike in production?”

        Oh, you cant tease without giving an example… One of the funnier of course being possibly one of the worst hitters ever in Neifi Perez.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Bill says:

        You don’t need to exactly quantify the effect of steroids on Bonds to say with complete and total certainty that they improved his numbers a hell of a lot more than lying about one hit by pitch would have.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

  22. Spunky says:

    I don’t understand why ejecting him(or at least warning him) would be excessive. It certainly would be unusual, and maybe even unprecedented, but it wouldn’t be against the rules, and I can’t imagine it would upset too many people. Rule 9.01(d) gives the umpire the right to eject anyone for unsportsmanlike conduct (among other things). Certainly, an obvious attempt at cheating (especially during a no-hitter) would qualify as such.

    Of course, the umpire must be 100% sure that the player was cheating, which is why I agree that the replay should be used in these situations.

    Another example was a few years ago, when A-Rod distracted a fielder trying to catch a pop-up. I’m a huge A-Rod fan, but he should have been ejected.

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    • Jimbo says:

      At the very least, he shouldn’t have been awarded the base.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Daern says:

        Jimbo: He shouldn’t have, but not for any of your reasons. He shouldn’t get that base because he didn’t make enough of an effort to avoid the pitch.

        And, to reiterate: he was not cheating. Cheating would imply that A.J. had broken the rules of baseball. He didn’t.

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      • Jimbo says:

        Do the rules state that a pitch near a batter’s foot results in first base? Or do the rules state that he, you know, actually needs to be hit by the pitch? ;-)

        If he felt the ball hit the ground near his foot and thought maybe it nicked him…all my posts get retracted and responsibility for the call rests on the ump.

        Umpires, however, are not omnipotent. They don’t see or know everything. That’s why I feel the onus is on AJ…assuming he really knew the pitch did NOT hit him.

        I love competition. I love the essence of it. I feel he violated an essential (yet unwritten) code of conduct. Doesn’t matter if it is printed in the ‘rulebook’.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

  23. dcs says:

    Trying to fool the umps, or the opposing players, is part of the game. It’s up to the latter to catch on and do the right thing. I believe the old term for this general category is ‘deke’. AJ wouldn’t do this, and leave himself open to criticism, unless he believed the umps were so incompetent that it was worth the risk. He laughed all the way to first base, and rightly so.

    The way to solve the problem is not to demand that the players adhere to some unrealistic code of honesty, but to get better trained umps. And if they are about as good as they can be, then change the rules to help solve the problem. They do that in football all the time.

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  24. MikeS193 says:

    This sort of thing happens all the time. In game 2 of the 2005 World Series, Jermaine Dye fouled a pitch off the knob of his bat. Teh umpire said it hit him and awarded him first base, loading them up. On the next pitch, Paul Konerko turned a 4 – 2 deficit into a 6 – 4 lead. Nobody howled for Dye’s head. That play was slightly more important than one in an intradivisional game in April.

    “Pierzynski has made a career of ticking off fanbases and clubhouses alike.” really? I know he was reportedly hated in San Francisco but he is loved in Chicago. I never heard that Twins fans hated him while he was there.

    Seems to me the author has more of a problem with the player than the play.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Bronnt says:

      Agreed. If Derek Jeter had done this, he’d have been lauded his smart play, and how he’s a “winner” and does “What it takes.” I’m certain, if I have video of every Yankees game over the past 5 years, I could find Jeter trying to pull off the very same thing.

      Pierzinski does this, and there’s outrage.

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      • Omar Little says:

        Probably because AJ Pierzynski is the biggest douchebag in baseball and Derek Jeter isn’t. Just a theory though.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • bowie says:

        I doubt it. I’m not a Jeter sycophant but that is not the kind of thing he does.

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      • Bronnt says:

        Elijah Dukes beats up his girlfriend, Brett Myers hits his wife, and AJ Pierzinski is somehow the biggest douche in baseball?

        Both the Giles brothers seem to have had various domestic violence charges, probably relating to ‘roid Rage, and you’re fixated on Pierzinski?

        C’mon.

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      • Omar Little says:

        Douchebags are different from scum bags. Those guys are terrible human beings, AJ is just a douche.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

  25. snapper says:

    I can’t believe anyone would complain about this. Does Romero alert the umpire when a pitch 3-inches outside is called a strike?

    Especially the no-hitter bit. It was only a 4-0 game. Pierzynski is still trying to win the game. Screw the no-hitter, who cares.

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  26. I loved watching that acting job AJ pulled off. It’s moments like that, that make baseball a great game – unquantifiable and insanely frustrating (if you were a Blue Jay fan). Wonderful theatre. A.J.’s a douche nozzle, but it’s guys like him that make a great game even better. I love seeing smart gamesmanship.

    A Yankee fan buddy said to me, “If A-Rod did that, they’d be all over him.” I replied, “A-Rod doesn’t need to do that.”

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  27. LV51 says:

    Is this something different than what has been going on for the last 100 years? It’s baseball, always has been and hopefully always will be. Call it bush league or whatever you want. Like the second baseman not touching 2nd on a double play. He got away with one, it’s not the end of the world. The beauty of baseball is that is shows us the world in not a perfect place. Be a good sport and move on.

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  28. Tylerv says:

    On the one hand it’s nice to be able to call it bush-league and distasteful and all that but not actually punish the player for trying to fool the ump. When the player is trying to falsely claim a positive that seems to be, ok in a sneeky way that the umps are supposed to be able to call. But if a player intentionally falsely denies a positive (messing with the ball, PEDs) that seems to warrant more serious tampering or cheating. I think. But I’m usually all for bending rules as long as no-one gets hurt, it’s my interpretation of fairness and chance and my outlook on life…etc.

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  29. Matt says:

    Ball off the outside corner, catcher frames it. Is this lying to the umpire? It was off the plate but the catcher moves it to a strike. I could give more examples but stuff like this is just a part of baseball. BTW I dont like AJ just as much as anyone else here, especially as a Giants fan.

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  30. max says:

    It is part of the game. AJ Pierzynski should not be punished. Are you going to punish Nate McLouth too for his phantom catch last week? No. The players play, the umpires referee, and if the player can convince the umpire that something happened, then it goes in the books as so. The player may not *deserve* the call, but it’s not like they’re suddenly going to start being completely honest just because you institute a “no lying” rule. Deceiving the umpire, when the opportunity presents itself, is part of the game. Last night, Jose Lopez whiffed at what should have been strike three, but the ball was in the dirt and the ump thought he fouled it off. Kurt Suzuki and the A’s manager came out and argued for a few minutes, before giving up and moving on. You going to suspend Jose Lopez for not sticking his head into the argument and telling the umpire what happened? No. It’s part of the game. It happens all the time. Trapped fly balls. Phantom tags. Checked swings. It’s all part of the game. If someone knows that he didn’t earn the call and he tells the umpire, then he would be a good sport. In last year’s US Open (tennis), Juan Martin del Potro was receiving a first serve, which looked like it was in and an ace, but which the line judge called out. del Potro promptly told the chair umpire that the ball was in and gave the point to his opponent. Good sport. Not so much part of the game, but when it happens, it makes you feel good. Flops and ump-deceiving happens much more often, but they don’t make me feel bad. Because it’s all part of the game.

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    • Daern says:

      Hear hear!

      And there’s no way Lopez didn’t know he didn’t foul it off; you can feel it in the bat.

      So was he cheating? I think not, and neither was Pierzynski.

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    • Jimbo says:

      But WHY is it “part of the game”?? It isn’t in the rules anywhere.

      Why couldn’t it be “part of the game” that Lopez tells the ump “hey, I really didn’t make contact.” Or McLouth throws to third, ahead of Aramis, since he clearly didn’t make the catch. Or AJ doesn’t pretend to get hit in the foot.

      Can anyone tell me why? …Bueller?

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      • Daern says:

        Yeah, I can tell you why. Because these guys compete for a living and any edge is huge. It may not be explicit in the rules, but basically you’re expecting them to do something contrary to a lot of people’s nature; do something (be completely honest) where there is no negative not to do so and no positive to do so.

        So the reason they won’t is because we don’t live in the fairy world you apparently spend your time in. People are concerned with success and money and fame, not idealism like pure honesty.

        What, you’ve never told a lie?

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  31. Choo says:

    Pierzynski isn’t the first player (this week) to pretend like he got nicked by a ball that didn’t touch him. He is just the Pierzynskiest. In other words, Pierzynski understands his role as the agitator and he plays it masterfully. That’s what makes him one of the most universally despised opponents in baseball despite being the White Sox’s most universally adored teammates. If he were a bit Utleyer or slightly more Jetery, this would be a complete non-issue.

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  32. Eddie says:

    Toronto should have put a ball on Pierzynski’s earhole in his first AB the next day. Take your base, A.J.

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    • Matt says:

      Yeah, cause it was his fault Romero gave up the two-run shot.

      Sheesh.

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    • Agreed. I’m surprised they didn’t. These are all big boys, they can police themselves.

      What happened to mean MoFo pitchers like Gibson, Ryan, Clemens and Johnson? All the warnings and all the automatic ejection/suspensions have really taken a lot of the game away from pitchers. Guys are afraid to even just go inside these days for fear that they’ll be perceived as throwing at the batter.

      The game needs its balls back.

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    • max says:

      Actually yeah, I agree with you here. Pierzynski wants to pretend he got hit, the Jays should leave no doubt next time around. Just send him a little message. It’s part of the game.

      But he should not be “officially” punished by baseball’s higher-ups for deceiving an umpire, because that is also part of the game. Nor should umpires make a few calls the other way to “make up for it.”

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    • Daern says:

      Yes, because killing a guy is definitely the response to a lie.

      Hit him in the ass.

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  33. Jimbo says:

    I think he (generic “he” meaning anyone taking advantage of non-omnipotent umpires) should be punished…but can’t be.

    Sort of a reasonable doubt issue, where it would be pretty difficult to say with complete certainty what a player knew had happend, or what their intentions were, etcetera.

    .

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  34. Matt says:

    This is news? C’mon Fangraphs geeks, get back to your calculators.

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  35. Sid says:

    I think y’all are missing the potential for “justice” here — if I were an ump that got showed up by A.J., I’d do my level best to even the score then next dozen times he came to the plate. I had a long conversation one night years ago with an AL crew chief, and I swear he was about the most egotistical, controlling, cynical a-hole I’ve ever come across. He told me a handful of stories of similar situations that gave me the impression that if someone pulled a stunt like this and made him look bad, that player wouldn’t get a fair shake until appropriate amends were made.

    Those guys have all the power, and they LOVE nothing more than to use it…

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    • Jimbo says:

      I wonder how much they hate it when catchers frame a pitch.

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    • Daern says:

      As an umpire myself, I take offense at that. xD

      But seriously, you should pretty much never consciously give any team or batter or pitcher any call. I try to avoid bias as much as possible.

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  36. lee d says:

    Aj is a dickhead, surprise, surprise

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  37. Mike says:

    I say the best way to punish him is a fast ball to back the next time the Jays play the White Sox.

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  38. KS says:

    God, how pathetic. We teach our kids in 9-10 rec ball to play with integrity… what do you say when a (nominal) Major Leaguer making millions lies and cheats his way on base? Pierzynski is a low-life idiot. He should be called out for the cheater and jackass he is.

    I agree McClelland should not have awarded him first base absent some evidence of his having been hit by the pitch, but Pierzynski is the one who deserves the vast bulk of the condemnation, not the umpire.

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    • Choo says:

      Your blind rage is understandable, but be careful!

      Top Five Stressful Life Events:
      1) Spouse’s death
      2) Divorce
      3) A.J. Pierzynski’s trickery, subterfuge and shenanigans
      4) A.J. Pierzynski’s hoodwinks, bamboozles and flimflams
      5) Listening to the MLB Network crew.

      So reel in the anger a bit or you’ll be flirting with a heart attack by mid-season, because what Pierzynski did (attempting to convince an umpire of doing something that he really didn’t do) happens every day.

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      • 3rd Period Points says:

        I swear to God, I’ll pistol whip the next guy that says shenanigans!

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      • Choo says:

        Leprechauns, House of Pain and the guy who whistles the jig for Irish Spring commercials have all agreed to stop using that word. However, Michael Flatley believes you want to whip him with your skin pistol, so he has promised to abuse the word “Shenanigans” until you do.

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  39. nathan says:

    Dye did it in the 2005 WS too, and no one got upset.

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  40. James says:

    I’m very surprised how many people think this is justified. There is a big difference between framing a pitch to try to sway a judgement call of a ball/strike and intentionally misleading an umpire by faking a HBP. Whether a pitch is a strike or a ball may vary depending on the umpire, the situation or the particular way it is observed, but being hit by a pitch has a yes or no answer. This isn’t to say an umpire can be expected to determine definitively 100% of the time if it’s an HBP or not, but there is an objective answer.

    I’m also surprised people think others getting away with similar scenarios somehow justifies this situation. Faking a HBP is just one example, trapping a fly ball is another, and I’m sure there are many more. This article isn’t specifically calling out A.J., but is using a clear example to discuss a larger issue.

    My question is, do you who defend A.J. and place responsibility on the umpires, do you see any problem with shoplifting? After all, it’s the police’s and the store’s responsibility to prevent the population from stealing and punish them if they’re caught, and not at all the person who committed the crime, right?

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    • max says:

      I’m sorry, I don’t think you can get on our backs for comparing the Pierzynski play to trapped balls etc. and then turn around and compare it to shoplifting. Something doesn’t work with that argument.

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      • Wally says:

        Interesting that you can’t tell us what it is that doesn’t work…

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      • max says:

        Hypocrisy.

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      • Wally says:

        But hypocrisy doesn’t really mean any of the analogies are right or wrong.

        I believe James brings up a very good point that HBP have an objective answer. Strikes are not objective. We attempt to make them as objective as possible, but they aren’t. That’s a problem with that analogy, and a big one.

        If Max thinks there is another problem with the shop lifting example, we should probably hear it. Otherwise he hasn’t addressed James’ argument.

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      • James says:

        I don’t see the hypocrisy in my post, but it may be there. Also, I’m not defending trapping fly balls – quite the opposite, I think faking HBPs and traps are the same problem: in both situations you are lying about something to gain an advantage. My comparison to shoplifting or Jimbo’s example of banking are similar situations that are considered wrong. I’m questioning what makes the perceived difference between fake HBPs/traps and lying?

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    • Jimbo says:

      A better example is the banking industry. People in charge found loopholes and created complex investments to game the system.

      They didn’t do anything “technically” against the rules, but violated the trust of investors and “cheated” millions of people.

      Greed has been found before in corporate america, so is that okay because of precedent? If they didn’t break any rules does that mean they didn’t do anything wrong?

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      • Jimbo says:

        Sorry for starting my post with “A better example is…”

        Should’ve just said “Another example is…”

        I was trying to make a contrast in that shoplifting really *is* rulebreaking, and a lot of the argument here is that AJ didn’t break the rules. (Though I like JoeyO’s take on that.)

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  41. Zack says:

    Punish him? Give me a break.

    How is it any different than an OF acting like he caught a ball that he trapped or something? Or a fielder holding the ball up like he tagged a runner on a SB attempt?

    If the ump is stupid enough to fall for it then its the ump’s fault- get Joe West after them, just dont have it take too long.

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  42. MikeS193 says:

    So let’s say Pierzynski hits dingers in his first two at bats one day, then gets HBP on the first pitch of his third at bat. The pitcher says “it just got away from me” when we all know better. Even better, say it happens to Utley or Pujols or Longoria. Maybe it gets him in the elbow or the hand. Maybe it breaks a bone. Maybe it effectively ends his career. Sure, getting hit doesn’t result in injury often but the risk of injury is higher when hit then when faking getting hit. What happens to that pitcher? Most of the time he doesn’t even get tossed. Suspensions are rare. That lie is far more significant and letting the pitcher get away with it just let’s pitchers know that they can get an occasional free shot at a hitter.

    If it wasn’t this hitter, this article never would have been written. He’s done far worse. I remember once he stepped on a third baseman’s back while the guy was lying on the ground. This sort of muckraking is below fangraphs.

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  43. Brian says:

    Was the umpire’s name Doug Eddings?

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  44. EDogg says:

    AJ is a complete douche and idiot. Everyone knows that. This isn’t the first time he’s pulled one over on an umpire either.

    In the playoffs against the Angels about 3-4 years ago he struck out on a ball in the dirt and the ump put his fist up to indicate out, just the same as he had all game, and AJ started to walk back to the dugout. Just as he was almost to the top step of the dugout, he took off back toward first base and stood on the base safely. No other player in baseball makes that move, and the ump actually let him stay on the base because he was dumbfounded, even though he clearly made the same signal after the pitch that he had after every other legit strikeout in that game.

    So we have established that this is a pattern of behavior for a superdouche like AJ, but it’s still ridiculous to propose an “honor code” even with douches like AJ around. Too much grey area, as has been mentioned with the framing of strikes and trapping balls.

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    • Part-Time Pariah says:

      Go back and watch that game, genius. Stupid catcher + stupid pitcher + AJ = U CAN PUT IT ON THE BOOOOAAAAARRRRDDDDDDDDDDDDD……..EEEEEEEEYYYYYYYYYYYYEEEEEEESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS!!!!!!!!!!!

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  45. CJ says:

    In the 2005 World Series, Game 1 had a critical hit by pitch, which loaded the bases, led to a pitching change, and was followed by a grand slam. After the game, the White Sox batter (Dye, I think) admitted the ball didn’t hit him and treated it as a funny joke. The Astros were leading the game prior to those events. So, it’s not new, and the media treated it like a a fun bit of gamesmanship.

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  46. SP says:

    Put it this way, even Hawk Harrelson couldn’t defend it.

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  47. Sandy Kazmir says:

    You play to win the game. You don’t play just to play.

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  48. vivaelpujols says:

    So should fake catches be punished? If a guy traps the ball, but swears he caught it, do you eject him? What about catcher framing, or trying to sell a tag?

    This is a pretty ordinary thing to happen in baseball – I have absolutely no idea why people think this is some huge scandal.

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    • NYRoyal says:

      No one is treating it like a huge scandal. It is merely a discussion topic. Most of the acrimony is coming from White Sox fans who are incensed that anyone is daring to talk about it.

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    • Sandy Kazmir says:

      Agreed, it’s part of the game. Move on. I thought this one:

      http://insider.espn.go.com/espn/blog/index?
      entryID=3552486&name=Neyer_Rob&action=upsell&appRedirect=http://insider.espn.go.com/espn/blog/index%3fentryID%3d3552486%26name%3dNeyer_Rob

      was much worse and I don’t remember much of an outcry other than this article by Mr. Neyer. I’m glad we got our revenge a few months later, but AJ does this stuff. He’s the Dino Ciccarelli of baseball.

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  49. PG says:

    If AJ was an idiot, he wouldn’t be able to think so quickly on the spot, now would he? I’m pretty sure right after that play, and throughout the entire series, Buck Martinez gushed about how smart of a player he is. And he’s the Toronto announcer. I’m pretty sure at one point he called him the “smartest in baseball”. And Martinez is a former major league catcher/manager.

    People are being such crybabies about a part of the game that has existed since its inception. Get over it.

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  50. PG says:

    “Put it this way, even Hawk Harrelson couldn’t defend it.”

    In the first series of this season, Mike Redmond stuck his elbow in the way of an 0-2 pitch, and ignited a rally that won Cleveland the game. Harrelson had nothing but positive things to say about the move, and said it was the play of the game. It was the EXACT same thing. Redmond put on theatrics that he tried to get out of the way but turning his back to the ball, while at the same time sticking his elbow out. He faked out the umpire that he made an effort to get out of the way (when he did the opposite), and was awarded a base. Same damn thing. This happens all the time. I’ll say it again. If this was, let’s say, Donny Lucy, the backup, nobody would even care. I’d bet a solid 75% and over percent of the people here that are truly upset by this are Angels fans, Jays fans, or Twins fans (which is hilarious).

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  51. AdamOnFirst says:

    I don’t like AJ, and I hate the Sox (as a good Twins fan does), but I don’t agree with this at all. No player in any sport will ever tell an ump to call against him. Basketball players are far, far more often successful when trying to flop than they are called for fouls. It’s the official’s responsibility to get the call right.

    AJ is a master douche, but OP is melodramatic and moralist, in my mind.

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  52. Mike says:

    Am I looking at different replays?

    It’s not clear to me that A.J wasn’t his on the toe of his right foot. It’s real close, and it may have missed it him but replays aren’t ‘clear’. Not clear enough for this reaction.

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  53. T says:

    I’m in the “Blame the Umpire” camp. It’s literally his job to watch the ball. The result of this type of behavior should be umpire punishment/changes, not A.J. The amount of blown calls considering today’s technology is nothing short of a disaster for the sport. Every game seems to end with a complaint about an obvious missed call by an umpire, and it doesn’t appear that any punishments are taking place.

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  54. Judy says:

    Of course, the umpire is the one at fault. Are umpires supposed to base their rulings on the reactions of others, or are they supposed to base them on what they see? If it’s the umpires’ job to just give it their best guess, why bother, why not just flip a coin or play rock-paper-scissors?

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  55. LV51 says:

    I agree with blame the ump. You call it as you see it, not as you think it might have happened. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t (the whole stadium thinks the guy got hit). As an ex-ump, I got caught in that trap a few times, – my bad.

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  56. Rob in CT says:

    For me, this falls into the same category of a fielder claiming to catch a ball he really trapped. “Selling” the play to the ump. If the ump buys it, it works.

    That’s commonplace in MLB. I don’t like it one bit, but it’s clearly a part of the game.

    We can only hope that the umps get the call right more often.

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    • Rob in CT says:

      And, to the extent a punishment is handed out, there has to be a clear and consistent policy for such punishments.

      Since I’m not sure there can be a clear and consistent policy that covers all the potential instances of “selling” an ump on the wrong call, my inclination is to leave it be.

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  57. Part-Time Pariah says:

    Should Alex Remington Be Punished for this dipshit blog post that has absolutely nothing to do with statistics or sabremetrics?

    Fixed it for ya bud.

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    • This is a baseball site. Statistics are a tool for analysis: they’re not our sole area of study.

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      • Jimbo says:

        If Fangraphs NEVER talked statistics, that would be a problem.

        To think this site should NEVER discuss anything else? That’d be stifling.

        Baseball is about people, maybe more than any other sport, so to discuss this aspect is not just appropriate but refreshing. I thought it was a great article Alex.

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  58. JoeyBallgame says:

    The proper form of punishment in this case exists solely on the field, between the players. Should A.J. walk into a high-inside fastball in the near future, then we all know his little bush league hop-step warranted reprise. Any brand lying punishment mechanism would be cumbersome and vestigial.

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  59. Kace says:

    Alex Rodriquez pulled the ‘Phantom HBP’ manuever last night (4/16) against the Texas Rangers. Replays clearly showed it did not hit him. I’d have to give him a mixed review however. His double hop/limp made it look like he was hit twice but his immediate run to 1B was very well executed. Result, he scored later in inning and seemed to rattle the Ranger pitcher who walked half way to the plate to question the HBP.

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  60. Baron Samedi says:

    Some guys just have too much sand in their vaginas.

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  61. BagOfHammers says:

    They don’t call him Pieceofsh*tski for nothing!

    okay…just I call him that…but it’s not for nothing

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