NEW YORK - General manager Mike Rizzo confirmed his confrontation with members of last night’s umpiring crew following the Nationals’ 9-7 loss to the Mets, calling it “unfortunate” but more a reflection of frustration over the inconsistent implementation of Major League Baseball’s new takeout slide rule than the specific call that went against his club in the top of the ninth inning.
According to a New York Daily News reporter who witnessed the confrontation outside the umpires’ clubhouse at Citi Field, Rizzo accosted second base umpire Jim Joyce, telling the crew chief “you blew it” on the play in which Jayson Werth was called for interference when oversliding the bag trying to break up a double play on Daniel Murphy’s sharp grounder to the hole at shortstop. The two had to be separated by security personnel, according to the report.
“It was unfortunate,” Rizzo said. “I had words with the umpires after leaving the game last night. It was more about frustration of the inconsistency and ambiguity of the rules than it was about any specific call. There were three calls last night that were interpreted different ways. There was a call May 10 against the Detroit Tigers that was interpreted a different way. It was about that, and it was unfortunate.”
Rizzo said he hadn’t heard anything from MLB today about the incident, but a spokesman said the league is looking into it. Rizzo was disciplined by the league in 2011 after a similar incident in which he confronted umpire Phil Cuzzi in the same Citi Field corridor following a controversial ninth inning call.
Werth and other Nationals expressed frustration last night with the way the new takeout slide rule has been enforced or not enforced this season, insisting two similar slides earlier in the game were deemed legal.
“There has to be a consistency to the interpretation of it,” Rizzo said. “Until we get that, the players don’t really know what it is, and they’re searching for different ways to do it. The infielders are searching for what’s legal and what’s not. So until we get some consistency with it, it’s really making it a mystery to the players. We need the players to be clearer on what they need to do, for the safety of the middle infielders and the baserunners.”