Star Unfairness

Roy Halladay pitchers for the first time at Rogers Centre in a Phillies Uniform

Being unable to challenge our current beliefs. It’s a black mark on our society. We continually accept things because it’s the way it has always been done. I wish we could change that.

Related: Significant Injury?

Sports are similar to life in so many ways. The elite of society get the benefit of the doubt. For example, rich men get beautiful women and the beautiful women are so often let off the hook.

In this sense, professional sports are no different.

The Wade’ and Kobe’s in basketball get more fouls called, the Brady’s and Manning’s in football get more yellow flags tossed in their favour and the Roy Halladay’s of the world get a bigger strike zone.

And here I am thinking that equality was something society strived toward.

The Blue Jays and Phillies game today featured Roy Halladay’s long awaited return to the city of Toronto. The game also featured some very inconsistent but typical game calling from home plate umpire Alfonso Marquez.

The fans sure let him know it and more so than any regular season game I have ever seen.

For 9 innings, Alfonso Marquez was giving the benefit to Roy Halladay while Blue Jay pitchers were forced to pitch in a confined strike zone. It all culminated in Blue Jay reliever Jon Rauch’s very amusing ejection. He had reason to be upset considering a 3-2 curve ball that caught the knees on Ryan Howard, that would have ended the inning, was called a ball. He blew up after the next batter, Shane Victorino, hit a single to drive in a run.

He didn’t blow up because of the one call though. It was the frustration of an entire game in which the better team and the better pitcher received better treatment. According to Pitch FX, the Blue Jays had 10 strikes called balls while the Phillies had 1.

The typicality in this kind of umpiring is nothing new. It is everything that is wrong with the mentality of society and how we see people above us. These people are special and we believe they should be treated in that way. Apparently, they have earned something that puts them above the rules.

Greg Maddux built a career on being able get strikes called on pitches thrown 3, 4 and even 5 inches off the plate. These were Pitches that batters had less of a chance at hitting than a chess champion has at picking up Jessica Alba. I guess umpires felt bad for Maddux and his perfect control. He needed extra room off the plate too.

The plate that is supposed to be set in stone. It is there for a reason yet umpires continually choose to expand it for stars like Roy Halladay and Mariano Rivera. It makes great pitchers absolutely unhittable.

Star players haven’t earned the right to bend the rules and rookies shouldn’t have to earn the right to get calls within the rules. The rules are put in place to ensure fairness. Every single player should have earned the right to get the same call as the next no matter how many years they have played in the league or how many 0’s are in their contract.

Referees, umpires, fans, players, former players, writers and analysts all seem to find this appropriate. That should make us livid.

We expect superstars to get better treatment when it should not be the case. It is another one of those instances in society where we accept it because it is the norm and always has been.

Do you think it’s fair when multi-bizzilionaire Alex Rodriguez gets out of paying a speeding ticket and you don’t when you’re struggling to pay the bills with 2 kids and a second mortgage on the house? I didn’t think so.

It also isn’t fair for Carlos Villaneuva to have to fight for every strike when his considerably more talented counterpart Roy Halladay does not.

I’m not sure what makes me angrier. Star players receiving every edge imaginable or people unwilling to challenge completely illogical societal norms.

When are fans going to step and say that this isn’t okay? When are fans going to step up and say that we can’t ignore this any longer?

Talent across sports will never be on an equal plain but there is no reason why the rules can’t be. Stop excusing the problem with “he has earned it” and start challenging the issue at hand.

As similar as sports can be to life it still isn’t the real world. This might be a fact of life but it doesn’t have to be a fact in sports.

Agree? Disagree? If you have any questions, comments, suggestions, please feel free to reply in the comments section below. Or you can e-mail me at Also, follow me on twitter @paintstheblack and I will gladly return the favour.

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About Chris Ross
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13 Responses to Star Unfairness

  1. patton26 says:

    That’s very unfortunate that this happened. Bad calls happen every game, but to have that much disparity in calls is just plain atrocious.

  2. Pingback: Star Unfairness, MLB | BallHyped Sports Blogs

  3. Bobby Charts says:

    Nice thoughts and great read. Players that put in the work and reach the level of greatness and stay put of trouble get the calls. Younger players want these call with out putting I’m the work or effort. Right or wrong I don’t know, bit that’s the way it works. Even at our daily jobs. The ones that get to a high level and doing it with humility get to respect. Just thoughts of mine not saying umps were right in this game. Keep it up chris.

    • Bobby Charts says:

      Trust me not saying it right, hello I’m a Kings fan, be there done that with Lakers!! I just don’t think it will ever change, I thinks ita human nature.

  4. inurbase says:

    Having watched this game, I’d argue it’s more of an anomaly than anything. Umpiring and refereeing is a very subjective job, and humans cannot be expected to get it right 100% of the time. Just like everyone else, umpires and refs have doubts and when they’re unsure, they’ll err in the favor of the player they feel is most likely right. While this isn’t ideal, it’s better than the alternative, as removing the human element would ruin sports for what they are.

  5. spike8 says:

    I agree that this is becoming a problem in major sports, particularly basketball. I’m not as familiar with baseball, so I can’t really evaluate officiating particularly when it comes to balls and strikes. What I do know is that I don’t trust electronic systems for traditional judgement calls in sports. i.e. offside calls in football (soccer) and balls and strikes in baseball. Part of the game is learning how the umpire is calling it on that day. Obviously, if there is clearly a difference in the way it is being called for one player over another, then there is a problem, although I think it’s a little more subjective than you make it seem. My main question is what do you propose for fans to do as far as protesting this kind of stuff, whether in basketball, baseball, or any other sport? Do you mean that more blog posts like this one or twitter posts should be made calling for it to stop, or do you have any other ideas? It’s definitely a problem, but I’m not exactly sure what fans can do to stop it beyond being disgusted when it happens.

  6. Hey Chris…nice post. I agree that umps tend to favor the experienced pitchers sometimes, but they make bad calls all the time regardless of who is on the mound. That is the nature of the game. Sometimes it works for you, sometimes it works against you. I’d like to think that in the end, it balances out, but there is no way to tell. Makes me nuts when they screw up, which I have posted about before. There should be some accountability for really bad calls. If I go to my job and screw up, I get in trouble. Should be the same way for the umps, but it is an imperfect system and that may never change. Remember when Jim Joyce blew the call & the perfect game last year? He admitted he screwed up, but even so, they could not change the outcome of the game after the fact. That is exactly why it may never change. Sad, but the human element is just part of the game.


  7. David Hill says:

    The Yankees have always gotten their share of bad calls made in their favor. It annoys the hell out of me. This is also why guys like Kobe, LeBron and Dirk in the NBA are always looking for a foul when they miss a shot because of course we all know they’re too good to miss a shot on their own,

    Alas, I think it is the human element that makes baseball the great game that it is. Calls are subjective. You just never like it when it goes against you but hopefully it all evens out in the end.

  8. “Stars” have been getting extra-benefits since the beginning of time and, unfair as it may be, nothing’s going to change any time soon.

  9. This is so true and has been going on for a long time. The first player I remember hearing about special treatment is Gretzky. No one was allowed to touch him. Same thing now with Crosby.
    Jordan got same treatment and so do many stars now.

    If you watched the NBA finals Lebron got pissy cause a foul was called on him, and it was such a obvious foul and right in front of the ref. He flipped because in reg season he never gets called.

    The last time the Heat and Mavs were in finals back in 06 Dwade broke the record for free throws in playoff or finals. Everyone knew it was because the powers that be hate Cuban and wanted Miami to win. Even Tim Donaghy, who got busted for gambling as a ref, said they were told, in not so many words, the team that should get more of the calls.

    I hate this and unlike alot of other people i think refs/umps have way to much influence in games. There are so many bad calls. The Perkins play where he reach through the hoop wasn’t called. We have technology to make the games better and more accurate. In base ball games take 3 1/2 hrs at best and all people think is not to make game longer.

    If you have, like in NHL, a ump who’s job is to watch they game on screen. Just phone up when he there is issue it will take 10 secs, less time then both managers and the 12 umps discussing the play.

    I hate refs, the ruin sports. I watch to see players play the game not see fat guys screw up calls and become famous for it

    Lou from

  10. bikey1277 says:

    I don’t really like baseball.

  11. Bobby Charts is right, it is human nature, sadly, there’s nothing we can do to stop it. We favor the well-known stars, not the other guys (I mean no offense to Toronto but going against Roy Halladay?)

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