You know something has to be way out of sorts for Ben Zobrist to be tossed from a game, which he was Tuesday afternoon. And the mild-mannered utility man’s explanation of the events revealed that he’s a little more salty and acerbic than he lets on publicly.
With the Cubs down 6-0 in the bottom of the 6th, Zobrist worked a full count against Brewers starter Jhoulys Chacin. After taking what he thought was ball four, Zobrist tossed his bat to head to first and was taken aback when home plate umpire Phil Cuzzi rang him up. As you can see from the image below, the pitch was clearly outside the zone. Not egregiously so, but still bad.
Visibly upset by the call, Zobrist shared his thoughts with Cuzzi and looked to be in danger of getting run. That’s when Joe Maddon came out to protect his player, which earned the manager an early trip to the showers.
Zobrist was removed at the conclusion of the 8th inning prior to getting another at-bat, but that didn’t stop him from heading back out the plate for another word with Cuzzi. What first appeared to be a gentlemanly conversation quickly became less so, with both parties getting visibly heated. Zobrist was then ejected from the game, which he later revealed came as the result of a pretty sick burn.
Well, sick by Zobrist’s standards.
“I basically said, ‘that’s why we want an electronic strike zone,’” Zobrist explained to the media after the game. “That’s what obviously got me tossed. I’m not going to lie, I think he was going toss me anyway, before I said that, just because I wouldn’t go away.”
You know who wouldn’t have given Zo the heave-ho for that comment? A robot ump. Of course, the robot ump wouldn’t have rung Zobrist up on an incorrect called third strike, either.
Listen, Phil Cuzzi didn’t cost the Cubs the game. Their total lack of offense wears the blame for that. And that failure to push runs across may have had Maddon and Zobrist feeling a little more sassy than usual. But, man, it’s hard to watch some of these games and believe that having highly fallible human beings calling balls and strikes they can barely even see is a good idea.