By:  Holly Horning

Ok, I will admit that I had a blog already written for today. But then, I couldn’t escape the Umpire Uproar all day yesterday. It filled many a social media thread and was the hot topic on MLB Radio and tv all day. So I gotta go there. I just hope I don’t get thrown out of somewhere.

Gone are the days of affable Ron Luciano or the chuckles we got when an umpire threw out the organ player because he played “Three Blind Mice” after a particularly bad call. This is serious stuff now, folks! And a possible division title and playoff berth are riding on it.

And the thing that hit me today was how differently all the fans interpreted Saturday night’s Umpire Elimination Challenge of the Tigers’ organization. Fans who saw it totally the fault of the umpire, the players, the manager and even the entire umpires’ union. Rob Manfred also took his lumps.

But after hearing numerous discussions in the media from former players, umpires and GMs, it appears that this may be a case of a lot of men behaving badly. Let’s go wallow in the mess, shall we?

Here’s what we do know and what the experts were saying:

· Umpire Everitt has a long reputation of calling pitches as he did last night. Even the broadcasters thought there weren’t that many mistakes made, however they deemed the pitches as being “50/50” and open to interpretation for the most part. Yes, some of the griping was justified, but some of it also wasn’t.

· It was noted that the Tigers’ dugout was chirping from the first inning. Everitt gave them no warnings at all until the first ejection.

· Several GMs mentioned that from their experience, it’s up to the umpire to issue warnings first to a team’s manager.  He’s supposed to tell him what’s at stake and suggest that the manager communicate this info to his players. Everitt did not do this. But these same GMs also said it’s up to the manager to manage his players and keep them from getting into trouble.

· The GMs also said that at this time of year, umpires must understand the stress that players are under to make the playoffs and how they need to take this into consideration and cut them some slack. They all agreed that umps need to step back here and not impact a team’s ability to stay in contention.

· It was evident that VMart was not going to go quietly into the night. He showed his intent to fight the umpire by immediately putting his hands behind his back (a fine old baseball tradition) as he turned angrily to Everitt.

· Despite Brad’s explanation that he gives veterans some leeway, he was slow going to Victor’s rescue and put consideration of one player over the priority of the team and their stretch drive. His failure to go out right away when he saw trouble potentially could have been responsible for the loss of his DH’s bat.

· VMart’s momma is coming with the soap after what he said to  the umpire. From experience in reading lips, he used the f-bomb at least 4 times including the multi-syllable version considered to be the third rail in cursing. But swearing is not punishable, according to MLB’s rules handbook, until you personalize it to the ump – and that’s when Victor added the word “you” after his curse words. And just in case he didn’t make his point clear, he also threw his helmet out of the dugout which is also punishable.

· Not known was what Wally Joyner said as most of his tirade came during a commercial break. Left to ask is whether Everitt looked to see if the hitting coach had a bat in his hands before he threw him, and his boss, out of the game.

· JD Martinez appeared to be the only good guy in this whole debacle, which unfortunately didn’t mean he’d escape. No swearing, no staring, no angry looks and no questioning the balls and strikes. JD just asked a question in his attempt to help normalize the situation and then was asked to repeat what he said. Baited by Everitt who now appeared to either want his pound of flesh or decided that Brad, Wally and Victor needed a fourth for bridge.

The big question to ask is whether the Tigers considered the consequences of questioning balls and strikes. The rules are clear that this behavior results in ejection from the game.

As all the analysts mentioned Sunday, everyone involved had better hope that one game is not the deciding factor as to whether the Tigers make the playoffs. If it is, Saturday’s game will be remembered and the repercussions won’t be pretty.

But 4 ejections indicate a bigger problem than a single one does. And it doesn’t say good things about either the team or the umpire. What were their motivations? What was the spark that set a whole series of actions into motion?

Was this a failure by the manager and coaches to remind players to stay cool and focused? Was it due to deeply competitive fires burning? Or was it because of overwhelming pressure to gain some ground in the standings? And what was the umpire’s motive?

And in true Totally Tigers form, we’re not supplying the answers. You are. What are your thoughts? Don’t be shy – but please be polite. We don’t wanna have to throw you out of the conversation!

18 thoughts on “MEN BEHAVING BADLY

  1. I saw a good umpire having a bad day, and a veteran player going to the defense of a young pitcher who was getting flustered because he wasn’t getting the same calls. Fulmer needed his manager to calm him down and it never happened. So Victor stepped up and blasted the umpire. The rest is history, and a condemnation of Ausmus.


    • Fulmer was not throwing anything down in the zone, the real reason for his issues and he got plenty of calls in other areas, ask Trout about the called 3rd he could barely reach. This had nothing to do with the vet protecting his pitcher.


  2. This incident and the article reminds me of the scene from A league of their own, where Tom Hanks gets ejected from a game after a heated exchange with the ump, telling him he looks like certain male anatomy part. Crowd cheers and he then immediately turns back and says you misunderstood when I called you a…


  3. To easy to blame the manager. Blame the players who know it’s an unwritten rule that you judge an umps strike zone over the first couple innings and adjust to it. Instead, they spent the whole game crying about it. Don’t blame the skipper who shouldn’t have to remind grown men 162 times a year to adjust to the umpire of the night’s strike zone.


  4. Holly called it correctly (as usual). Plenty of blame to go around, with grown men behaving badly (some stupidly). But, bottom line, we got hurt badly in a darn important game!


  5. I’m wondering what you think the potential “un-pretty” repercussions might be? Ausmus and/or Joyner being let go, seems the most likely, but would hardly be attributable to just this incident.


  6. The ejections Saturday night are not the concerns for me. My concerns are what happened Sunday, NOTHING. Rather than coming out and playing intensely to win on Sunday, they scored no runs and lacked fire. And this is the problem with the team. You never know what you will get.

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  7. Tiger fans……………….. ” Are you crying?………. there’s no crying…………there’s no crying in baseball!”


  8. I’m with Lon – Fulmer was not getting the same calls and VMart stepped up. My first thought was: When is Brad going to get out there and protect his player. And for whom says players know what to do, I say they are human and in a pennant race can get steamed and it’s an unwritten rule that the manager has to protect his players.


  9. I remember a game at Fenway late in 04 when the Red Sox played the Yanks. Pedro argued balls and strikes and given the future playoff consequences and intensity of the rivalry, all Pedro got was a “watch it,Pedro!” from the Ump. It does matter who you are and who you are playing and when when you play them when arguing with an Umpire.


  10. In a way, being an umpire is like being President. The mere fact that you want the job is probably a good reason why you shouldn’t have it.


  11. The actions expected of a team playing poorly and looking for an excuse. Then it becomes 1 thing and 1 thing only, no control by the manager and an issue from day 1 in 2014. VMart ranted relatively quietly for nearly 5 minutes and Brad never moved from the dugout. Every umpire that ever blew a ball/strike is going to toss him.


  12. There wasn’t much to be happy about this weekend so I didn’t expect to be laughing while reading TT today. You’ve offered up a comprehensive report on the Saturday night fiasco, so cleverly written, I can’t help but smile. The writing is marvelous! Nobody comes off well but the onus is on Brad. My favorite post so far 🙂

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  13. I’ll repeat. Core problem is MLB modern day strike Zone. The waist to arm pits is gone creating umps giving various “inches” calls around the remaining lower half “matchbox strike Zone. With what’s at stake VM and JD needed to restraint n their lips. Brad caught AGAIN “sleeping at the wheel.”


    • Time to have automated strike zone –Fox track can call it. Catchers disguise what is happening and the umpires have prejudices. What’s with announcers saying the pitcher isn’t going to get that pitch called a strike because of poor current performance? It either is a strike or it isn’t, and much of the time the umpire isn’t sure.

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  14. Cabrera set this whole thing up by arguing right to the limit prior to Vmart. Others followed his lead. Problematic umpire strike zones are a “work-around” Good teams still win. Emphasize teams. A player who puts his ego, temper and emotional needs ahead of what is good for the team is 1) a problem player who needs help from a manager/team to set priorities


  15. The rule states that one cannot argue balls and strikes. So, for both Martinez’s to get thrown out doing so is unacceptable. They HAVE to stay in the game. This loss could be the one that leaves them outside looking in. Ausmus should have made MUCH more of an effort to save Victor. That’s our Brad. Useless tactician. Useless disciplinarian.


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