Welcome to Better Know An Umpire, an effort to educate ourselves on the human elements who have ultimate decision-making power over some 2,500 Major League Baseball games a year.
Name: Bob Davidson (a.k.a. Balkin’ Bob)
Uniform number: 61
Height/weight: 6 feet, 230 pounds
First year as MLB umpire: 1982
Total MLB games worked through 2011: 3,298 (home plate: 840)
Previous experience: Midwest League, Florida State League, Florida Instructional League, Southern League, Dominican Republic Winter League, American Association
Career ejections: 148 (eight in 2011)
No-hitters called: Zero
Over/under record (1999-2011): 99-95
Hated in: Every stadium he works
Claim to fame: On Aug. 23, 1989, Davidson ejected Youppi!, the Montreal Expos mascot, after repeated complaints from Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda. It seems Youppi! had been dancing on top of the Dodgers dugout roof while dressed in a nightgown.
Scouting report from Major League Umpires’ Performance, 2007-2010, by Andy Goldblatt:
Davidson is the game’s angry old man. His career ejection rate of 4.4 percent is twice the major league norm. … When it comes to plate judgment, Davidson isn’t at all controversial.
Scouting report from a legendary sports columnist:
Davidson has a history of grandstanding to draw attention to himself, whether it be his incessant balk calls, his meddling into other umpires’ calls, his rabbit ears, thin skin, and quick ejections.
Baseball players, managers and coaches have come to expect Davidson to hot-dog his way through games.
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.
Average K/9 (2010): 14.2
Average BB/9 (2010): 5.92
Sample PITCHf/x strike zone: May 25, 2010. Rays manager Joe Maddon and outfielder Carl Crawford were ejected for arguing balls and strikes. (Called strikes against Tampa Bay hitters are shown as red triangles.)
True fact: On September 7, 2010, before Trevor Hoffman recorded his 600th career save, Davidson pulled off the holy trifecta of ejections: the home team (Brewers outfielder Chris Dickerson), the road team (Cardinals pitching coach Dave Duncan), and a drunk fan.
I fucked it up. I’m the one who thought it was a damn foul ball. I saw it on the replay. I’m the one who fucked it up so you can put that in your paper. … Bolts and nuts, I fucked up. You’ve just got to move on. No one feels worse about it than I do.
Strike 3 Call: