So last night, Russell Martin and home plate umpire Laz Diaz got into it over balls and strikes early in the game, and according to the Yankees catcher, Diaz took it upon himself to punish Martin in a bizarre fashion. We'll let Martin explain, via the Daily News:
"Laz actually, hurt my feelings," Martin said. "The umpire wouldn't let me throw the ball back to the pitcher. That's never happened to me before. That's a good story, right?
"He said that it was a privilege that I had to earn, for me to throw the ball back. Because we kind of got into it with balls and strikes or whatever.
Martin, in case it isn't clear, is referring to new baseballs that are being put into play for the first time. (The catcher, who said umps typically grant his request to throw the ball back to the pitcher, said he explained to Diaz, to no avail, that throwing the ball back keeps his arm loose when men are on base.) It's worth remembering that this is Martin's account of things — Diaz was unavailable for comment after the game — but still: a privilege he had to earn? Ignoring the fact that Martin is no rookie, what kind of nonsense is that? Little League umpires don't pull things like this.
Martin, by the way, wasn't shy about expressing his thoughts about Diaz after the game. According to ESPN (censorship theirs), as Martin entered the clubhouse after the Yankees 6-5 win, he shouted "Laz Diaz is a d---. Write it hard." Then, in case it was unclear whether Martin thought Diaz was a dick, he mentioned it a couple more times. Also via ESPN:
"I think it happened in the second inning or something," Martin said at his locker after the game. "And then even at the end of the game, after I got hit in the neck, I'm like, 'can I throw the ball back now?' He's like still, no. I'm like, 'you're such a d---. You're a d---, dude. Like, for real. Unbelievable.'"
Perhaps the most intriguing thing about this is that it's not necessarily over. Explains Martin: "I know he can hold a grudge with the best of them."