July 23, 2017

MLB Should Fire Umpire Phil Cuzzi For His Chronic Incompetence


Boston's David Price faced Kole Calhoun of the Angels in the second inning last night. Phil Cuzzi was the home plate umpire and made those calls, and awarded Calhoun a walk.

I have been watching baseball games for 42 years and that is quite possible the worst called at-bat I have ever seen in my life. How can anyone look at that and still wonder whether MLB needs to start using an electronic strike zone immediately?

Cuzzi has been a major league umpire for more than 20 years. He was actually fired after about a decade in the minor leagues in 1993, but somehow was later recommended to be a National League ump. He has proved time and time again that he is extremely shitty at his job.

According to this Reddit post written by a Giants fan, Cuzzi "is the Mr Magoo of MLB Umpires and has a propensity for temper tantrums". Cuzzi has trouble distinguishing fair from foul balls, is often unable to correctly tell when a batter is safe or out, and he has a problem counting to four. He once awarded a batter first base on a walk after only three balls.

In 2009, Keith Law wrote that Cuzzi is "the worst umpire in the majors. Bad at his job, enjoys confrontations, too quick with the hook." A blown call in 2010 cost the Giants a victory. Cuzzi screwed up another Giants game in 2015 and this Giants website announced its desire for robots:
The pitcher gets paid to be able to place a pitch on the black, right at the knees, and to see an umpire make mistake after mistake - with impunity - and get away with it, defies explanation.
Cuzzi is still pissing players off in 2017.

I wrote about Cuzzi after he had a truly horrible game on September 26, 2010. In the ninth inning, the Yankees took 19 pitches thrown by Jonathan Papelbon and Cuzzi blew the call on eight of them. He got 42% of the pitches wrong!

Here's Brooks Baseball's zone of Calhoun's plate appearance:


As I wrote in that 2010 post:
Give me a process that gets the correct calls as close to 100% of the time as possible. It has been shown time and time again that humans cannot do it. So let's use technology. In track meets, we don't have guys muttering "one one thousand, two one thousand, three one thousand ...", we have sophisticated machines that can tell us, with certainty, the winning time was 28.735 seconds.
Seven years later, MLB remains content to have the umpires - not the players - decide the outcome of games every single night.

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