Players vs. Umpires: Umps 3, Players 0
It’s been quite a week for heated arguments between players and umps. Earlier yesterday, I had planned on writing about one of these incidents, and when I sat down to write this morning, BOOM. Suspensions and ejections everywhere.
Suspension 1: Mariners OF Keon Broxton
Kids, don’t throw your toys.
Keon Broxton is having a pretty shitty season as it is. He’s been shuffled around to three different teams this year (Mets – Orioles – Mariners). His numbers are garbage, looking at his slash line: .173 / .241 / .286. A person wouldn’t blame him for being in a bad mood most of the time these days. But he took his frustration out in the wrong way, near the wrong guy and now it’s going to cost him.
Monday night, Broxton was rung up on a 3-2 pitch from Yankee’s P AJ Happ, and while he thought he was taking ball four (which, if you watch the replay, it likely was), he got called out looking by umpire Manny Gonzalez. Then, in an embarrassing display by both Broxton and Gonzalez, the drama began to unfold. Broxton slowly tossed his bat to the side, tossed his helmet, and threw his gloves behind him. One of these gloves ‘made contact’ with Gonzalez’s face as he took off his mask. When I first heard the story, before actually seeing what happened, I imagined Broxton tossing the glove at Gonzalez, hard, and getting ejected. Or slapping him with it, a la Bugs Bunny inciting a duel with Yosemite Sam.
And the reaction from Gonzalez is about as dramatic as one can get. You guys. The glove literally lightly grazed the side of his face. You can see him saying “IT HIT ME ON MY FACE”. Dude. It it was a batting glove that grazed your face, maybe your arm. The wiping of his face at the end of it all, as though he was wiping away blood was my favorite. And while Broxton was being a big baby about the strikeout, Gonzalez also blew that call. Watch the whole thing here:
MLB has handed Broxton a 2-day suspension and an undisclosed fine for the whole tantrum, which he is appealing.
Suspension 2: Dodgers 3B Justin Turner
More tempers flared on Monday night while Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner took issue with home plate umpire Rob Drake’s inconsistency at calling balls and strikes, as he struck out to end the game in a loss to the Padres. (Spoiler, it WAS a strike, calm down Justin.) Turner started barking at Drake, and apparently bumped him during the argument. (I still can’t really see where he did, but I wasn’t there). See for yourself:
Due to this ‘ump bump’ that I still can’t see, he was suspended for one game. Turner is arguing his suspension, saying that Drake walked into him during the argument. He wasn’t in the lineup on Tuesday, but was supposedly just having a night off anyway. It’s sort of like, oh, I’m not suspended, I’m just taking a night off because I want to, not because you’re making me.
This isn’t the first time this season where Justin Turner has had beef with umpires. He claimed innocence back in June when he was tossed from a game for allegedly just saying Hi and waving at umpire Chad Fairchild when the whole Dodger bench was arguing about his calls.
Perhaps it’s time that Justin learns that you’re not allowed to argue balls/strikes with the umps. Or perhaps it’s time to get robot umps. Either way, just shhhhhhhhh, stop arguing with them, it’s not a good look on you… especially when that last strike was clearly in the zone.
Ejection: Astros P Justin Verlander
You guys, I’m struggling with Justin Verlander this season. He’s one of the best pitchers currently in the game, and no doubt will make it to the Hall of Fame within a year or two of eligibility. In his 15 seasons in the bigs, he’s got almost 3,000 strike outs, won a Cy Young, been MVP, and made the All Star game 8 times. He was Rookie of the Year in 2006. He’s led the entire MLB in wins twice – with TWENTY FOUR in 2011 and nineteen wins in 2009. I’m a Twins fan and still loved this guy that beat up on my team/the AL Central for most of his career so far.
But this season? He’s starting to annoy me with his belly aching.
You might recall his whining about the ball being juiced this season, and therefore home runs are happening more than they should be. (To this, I’ve said maybe, maybe not, but not all pitchers are giving up homers at an accelerated rate, soooo… yeah. There may be less drag on the balls, giving them more distance, but if you’re doing your job right, these balls won’t be flying out of the park. But… I digress) Or you may recall just recently when he refused to give a press conference if a certain Detroit Free Press reporter, Anthony Fenech, was in the locker room, due to ‘unethical behavior in the past.’ (The relationship between the two may have soured over some quotes about a solar eclipse a few years ago making Verlander look like a nerd.)
The 36-year-old hurler is turning into a grumpy, stubborn old man, complaining about anything and everything these days, it seems. Verlander was handing Tampa Bay a complete ass-kicking on Tuesday night, already up 9-0 in the 6th when he took issue with home plate ump Pat Hoberg. After Hoberg called what Verlander thought to be strike 3 on Tommy Pham a ball, his next pitch got taken deep for a double. Verlander started barking about Hoberg and got ejected from the game, and then had to be somewhat held back from the ump that dared toss him. See it here:
The Astros were able to hold Verlander’s lead, adding another 6 runs to pummel the Rays 15-1. As Verlander said later, it’s an emotional game, and he was expressing his displeasure with the previous pitch call with his back turned to Hoberg. Newsflash, Justin: just because you have your back turned to the ump, doesn’t mean he can’t hear you verbally unloading on him. Also? You were up 9-0, a double isn’t going to lose the game for you at this point.
And, I will say it louder for those in the back: YOU. CAN. NOT. ARGUE. BALLS. AND. STRIKES. Even when those calls are clearly a mile away from the plate and they call strike three on a batter, or it’s straight down the middle and they call ball four on a pitcher, these are unfortunately calls that can’t be overturned. In the age of replay, it’s one of the few things left that MLB still gets away with screwing up. It sucks, but there’s not much you can do about it. For now.
<whispers> The robots are coming for your jobs, umps.
And now, for your viewing pleasure, the epic scene from the Naked Gun spoofing how badly umpires tend to call a game. (If you’re too young to remember these movies, I’m sad for you and you should go watch them right now.) Watch as Detective Frank Drebin is very poorly umping a game trying to find a killer: