Josh Donaldson took part in a Zoom call with reporters on Saturday, two days after being ejected from the Twins’ loss to the White Sox by plate umpire Dan Bellino following a home run that gave Minnesota the lead at the time.
Donaldson was miffed that Bellino had called a strike on him on a 2-0 pitch that was out of the zone. Donaldson asked for an explanation, things got heated, Twins manager Rocco Baldelli came out to try to keep the peace and then Donaldson hit a home run. So everything was fine, right? Nope. Donaldson used his foot to kick dirt on the plate as he crossed it and Bellino tossed him.
Donaldson was criticized by many for his actions because his spot in the order came up in the eighth inning of a 4-3 loss. Ehire Adrianza was in the game instead of the Twins slugger and he struck out on three pitches. So had Donaldson calmed down about the situation by Saturday as the Twins prepared to play the Cubs at Wrigley Field? Here are his answers to the questions he was asked and, as you can see, Donaldson wasn’t about to apologize and remained extremely upset.
Q. How did you feel about your decision to kick dirt on the plate?
A. “I felt great about it. Obviously, I did it. But at the end of the day, there was no fallout. People don’t realize how strikes can really swing at-bats, one way or another. I just felt like there were a lot of other things I’m not going to go into at the moment. I’m going to wait to see when I get my piece of paper from MLB (on a fine), and then I’ll be as vocal as I want to about the certain individual that this is about. But I’m going to wait until that moment, just to kind of see where it goes. At the end of the day, 1-1 counts are probably the biggest count in all of Major League Baseball. You can go and look it up on your statistics. I can pull it up instantly right now. A 1-1 count, you have .334 major league batting average, you have .534 slugging, .837 OPS, which is quite good. That pitch that gets called a strike that’s a ball, now you go to a 1-2 count. The expected batting average, Major League average, is .165, on base .172, slugging .249, OPS .422. So I mean you want to start getting into statistics and analytics, well guess what? When those pitches go my way or the pitchers way … whatever that may be, (the) umpire consistently isn’t doing their job correctly. That’s affecting our careers, that’s affecting our success. At the end of the day, there’s no reprimand, no accountability for the guys that are making the decisions. Matter of fact, they don’t care, they don’t care at all. Most of them. They just want to get the game over with for the most part, and it’s pretty sad because guys are making six figures a year and there’s no accountability.”
Q. When did you decide to kick dirt on the plate?
A. “I think when Rocco came out and I asked (Bellino) very clearly, I said, ‘Hey, I want to know where you have the pitch?’ I asked him three times, very clear and he couldn’t answer my question. When Rocco came out, the umpires explanation was, ‘I think he’s just getting excited.’ No, I’m not getting excited. I’m asking you a question and you can’t answer my question. Now, you’re trying to revert the attention back to me like I’m being an (expletive) and I’m not. I’m just asking you a question and you can’t answer it. At the end of the day, it gets reflected towards me. So after (the home run), I saw him right by home plate and he was wanting me to do something and so I gave it to him. I made it a point … the players are the only guys that can hold these guys accountable because there’s no institution of fines, there’s no institutions of suspensions for these guys. They just go out here and show up every day. Show up at 6 o’clock and then they are out of here 30 minutes after the game. It doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter to them. They don’t realize that we’re playing for our families, we’re playing for our livelihoods. Fortunately for me, I have a contract but at the same time I want to win and I compete. But for a lot of these guys who do not, the difference between consistently bad calls against one individual can affect their career one way or another.”
— SKOR North (@SKORNorth) September 19, 2020
Q. Where do you fall on the idea of robot umpires for balls and strikes?
A. “I’ve never been for the TrackMan umpiring system. We started using it a little bit in our summer camp and it wasn’t too terrible. But I’m not able to go watch the video, able to look at overheads to see the accuracy. I know from what my eyes are telling me, seeing the pitches, it was pretty spot on. The whole idea of why I haven’t been a fan of the TrackMan, and I haven’t been a proponent on it, is because they are going to have to make changes to the strike zone in order to actually get it to where it’s appealing to watch for fans. Because the strike zone that is defined by the rule book, as of right now, you’re going to have guys that would throw curveballs, it would bounce in front of the catcher to where a catcher is blocking it, and there could be a possibility of it being a strike call, if they do not go in and make adjustments to the strike zone. So that’s why I haven’t been a proponent for it. I really believe the umpires, for the better part of it, do a great job. I just feel like at the end of the day there are certain guys and certain crews that aren’t holding their end of the bargain and, like I said, the players are the ones holding them accountable for that. … Guys get tossed all the time, I think there were like two other guys the same day who got tossed over balls and strikes, so it is what it is.”
Q. So do you feel you accomplished what you were trying to accomplish crossing home plate or do you think you could have done that without …? (This question was asked by former Twin and FSN analyst Justin Morneau.)
A. No, I think, I pretty much summed it up. I think I nailed it actually. I heard, Justin, that you had a lot of people texting you and saying that they were embarrassed. Well, I’m not. This is my livelihood. This part of what makes me the player that I am, and at the end of the day if I have something on my chest, that’s just going to be what it is. As I said, there will be other things. I just want to kind of see where this goes first off, how MLB is going to play it, and then I’ll come out (to) further things along (on what happened). There’s more things to it than just that one particular moment. It wasn’t, ‘Oh, hey, he called a 2-0 pitch a strike on me and now I’m going to kick dirt on home plate as I cross home plate after a home run.’ That wasn’t my intention. There were a lot of things that kind of boiled up to that situation to where I was like, ‘Look, if he really wants this attention, I’ll give it to him.'”