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One umpire's rough night

I've talked to Bernie Miklasz many times. He is not some wild-eyed reactionary. So when he complains about an umpire -- specifically, Bob Davidson, who went on an ejection-fest Tuesday night -- I listen:

    Baseball players, managers and coaches have come to expect Davidson to hot-dog his way through games.

    ... Davidson went on to eject Cardinals pitching coach Dave Duncan, a Milwaukee center fielder Chris Dickerson, and even a fan. And his strike zone? Davidson was off all night. His strike zone was as wide and as out of control as his ego.

    This is nothing new. It's business as usual. Davidson blew a call in the 1992 World Series, calling a runner safe at home when the runner (Deion Sanders) was clearly out. Davidon incorrectly took a HR away from Mark McGwire late in the 1998 season. Davidson embarrassed himself by blowing a call in a game between the U.S. and Japan in the 2006 World Baseball Classic.

    More recently, Davidson cost the Florida Marlins a game with a bad fair/foul call that gave a win to Philadelphia.

    I don't even know why I'm mentioning specific episodes; if I listed every call that Davidson got wrong I'd be typing for the next 48 hours at least. He's a disgrace to the game and has been for many, many years. Baseball people laugh at him.

    But here's what worse: that MLB continues to employ this clown. Davidson is living proof of the low, almost non-existent, standards for MLB umpiring in today's game.

Actually, if you believe PITCHf/x the problem with Davidson's strike zone last night wasn't that it was too wide; it's that it wasn't wide (or tall) enough. Especially when the Cardinals' Kyle Lohse was pitching. Though Lohse lasted only five innings, Davidson missed 10 strikes that Lohse threw -- again, if you believe PITCHf/x -- but didn't give Lohse a single questionable strike.

Meanwhile, Milwaukee starter Chris Narveson, in seven innings of work, got jobbed out of three strikes but also got the benefit of three highly questionable strike calls (PITCHf/x here).

The World Umpires Association would scream bloody murder if anyone important tried to present this data as any sort of evidence, and it's certainly not perfect. Still, you can understand why someone following the Cardinals -- or writing about the Cardinals, or managing for the Cardinals, or pitching for the Cardinals -- might be a little frustrated with Davidson's strike zone last night.

As I've mentioned before, it's a little surprising to me that nobody's systematically evaluating umpires with the PITCHf/x tools. I mean, someone at Major League Baseball is doing it, I'm absolutely sure. But I'm just as absolutely sure that MLB is contractually prohibited from letting us see those numbers or firing a veteran umpire because of them.

Yes, it would be a wonderful thing if an umpire's employment was tied to his performance. But it's just not, and probably never will be. We're just stuck with the umpires we've got, and essentially we have to wait until the likes of Bob Davidson retire and younger, better umpires take their places.