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  1. Rays

Rays not concerned about umpire backlash

From left, second base umpire Bill Welke, first-base umpire Brian O’Nora and home-plate umpire Fieldin Culbreth talk to Padres third-base coach Glenn Hoffman before the first inning as the Rays play the Padres at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg on Friday.
Published May 12, 2013

With manager Joe Maddon on lead vocals, the Rays have been doing a lot of talking to and about umpires.

Having been on the wrong end of at least a half-dozen calls they consider blatantly bad, plus a tiff with a name-calling and allegedly cursing umpire, the Rays have made their feelings known. Maddon especially, ejected three times in the first 33 games.

But could it be too much? Could all the complaining and whining come back to haunt them and work against them if the umpires — who, granted, as a group haven't looked good with several high-profile mistakes — get tired of hearing it?

"You'd like to think not," said left-hander David Price, who had the run-in with umpire Tom Hallion (and still hasn't received his apology). "But we're not the ones that can answer that."

Right-hander Joel Peralta said the Rays a) aren't the only ones who have had issues and, more importantly, b) they've been right: "I don't think anyone can look at us that we're picking on umpires or we're babies," he said. "The last thing I want is to have an umpire against me. But if they're wrong, they're wrong."

Infielder Kelly Johnson played on a Blue Jays team that was known for going too far and said the Rays' reactions have been "nothing like that." He compared Maddon's rants to those of Atlanta's Bobby Cox, who complained often and loudly but always had his players' backs.

Maddon said there shouldn't be anything to worry about.

"You only get a bad reputation if the complaints are not warranted," he said. "I think if you cry wolf, if you argue at the inappropriate times, if you're always on the field just to make noise, that's different. But I think if they're warranted, I think then you gain even more respect."

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