TORONTO -- Following the Game 2 loss to the Cleveland Indians in the American League Championship Series, Toronto Blue Jays slugger Jose Bautista seemingly called into question the integrity of the umpires’ strike zones by saying “circumstances” were preventing his teammates from hitting as they normally would.
Prior to Game 3 at Rogers Centre, which the Indians won, 4-2, to take a 3-0 lead over the Blue Jays, Toronto manager John Gibbons said he was not going to lose any sleep over Bautista’s comments.
“Jose is a journalist’s dream or media person’s dream because he tells you what is on his mind,” Gibbons said. “He always has been, but he’s also a guy that steps up. He’s had some controversy before. Some guys shy away from that. It’s never been him. A lot of times, that kind of motivates him to be honest with you.
“I don’t worry about it. I’ve heard it before. Jose, if you ask him a question, he’s going to answer. He’s a writer’s dream, but no, that’s part of it. That’s part of it. That’s kind of who we are. A lot of people don’t like that, but that’s really who we are.”
With some baseball leagues testing the waters of computerized umpiring systems, Gibbons was asked if that would potentially clear up any discrepancies as to what pitches are balls and what should be called strikes.
Gibbons was quick to say he “would never be in favor of that,” thinking it “would be bad for the game.”
“Umpires, they’ve got the toughest job on the field,” Gibbons said. “Somebody is upset about something regardless. I don’t care if it’s one side or the other. That’s just kind of how the game works. They’re never going to make anybody happy.
“They always give it their best effort, but all umpires are different too, and there’s been some guys that pitch in the series that are tough to call balls and strikes on because they have such a great arm and some pretty devastating-type pitches.”
Like Gibbons, Indians manager Terry Francona would not be in favor of the computerized system for calling balls and strikes.
“I think the umpires have done an incredible job,” Francona said. “I’m not talking about this series. I’m talking about because here’s so much scrutiny now when a ball is this far off, everybody sees it.
“Back in the day, those strikes could get pretty wide, and there wasn’t any replay or anything to show it. I think they do a pretty good job.”