MLB umpires are getting out of hand and the league is doing little about it.
Last night's game between the Cubs and Cardinals was yet another example of an umpire trying to make himself bigger than the game.
After getting called out on strikes last night, Matt Adams questioned the call on his way back to the dugout. It was a mild and low-key protest, but apparently, this did not sit well with umpire Dan Bellino, who took off his mask and shoo'd Adams away.
Cardinals Manager Mike Matheny took exception to Bellino's treatment of Adams and, after the final out was recorded, confronted Bellino as he approached the dugout. Needless to say, things got a little heated (video).
Matheny was ejected, after the game was already over, and could possibly face a fine or suspension. Meanwhile, Bellino is free to ump another game.
Here's what Matheny had to say about Bellino at his press conference:
“It had more to do with the umpire and how he mistreated one of our
players. It had nothing to do with the
call. It had everything to do with him going too far. You can’t take
your mask off and motion somebody away. We haven’t had any trouble. We
haven’t been complaining all game long. He wanted to be seen, so now he’s going to be seen.”
Its just another example in a long line of examples where umpires try to make themselves the stars of the game.
Earlier in the year, Tampa Bay's pitcher David Price was furious with umpire Tom Hallion after Hallion allegedly swore at Price as the pitcher walked off the field. Price was fined $1,000, as was Hallion, but it obviously is not enough to deter umpires from grandstanding.
Last year, MLB suspended umpire Bob Davidson for "repeated violations" of baseball's "standards for situation handling" and writer Dave Sheinin of the Washington Post called it a step in the right direction.
However, this year the only umpire suspension occurred after the umpires screwed up the pitcher substitution rules in an Angels/Astros game.
Escalating arguments and (unintentionally) blowing calls are one thing, but there are also instances where it appears that umpires intentionally miss a call to get back at a player for supposedly "showing them up".
One example is the Brett Lawrie incident last year with umpire Bill Miller (video). On a 3-1 count, Lawrie took what he thought was a ball and starting trotting down to first, thinking he earned a walk. Miller called the pitch a strike though, earning a bewildered look from Lawrie. However, you just knew what was going to happen next. Sure enough, the next pitch was even more clearly a ball and Miller still rung Lawrie up. Its just one of many examples of an ump exacting his revenge on a player.
Jose Bautista has been claiming for a while that umpires are out to get him, because of how he reacts to bad calls. His anger probably doesn't help him, but at least one study shows that he gets more than his fair share of bad calls.
Another example of a player who may get unfair treatment because of his reputation as a bit of a hot head is Bryce Harper. Harper was ejected from a game earlier this year when a check swing call by John Hirschbeck went against him. Harper raised his arms in a "what gives" manner, which Hirschbeck took exception to, walked straight at Harper, yelling at him and challenging him to do something to warrant the ejection Hirschbeck was just itching to give. Harper obliged by flipping his bat and helmet and was immediately ejected (video).
Umpires are suppose to defuse situations, not escalate them. There are too many umpires that want to make themselves the center of attention. They intentionally miss calls so that they can eject players for revenge or try to instigate things because of a players' reputation. Yet, they never suffer any consequences. Bottom line, MLB has to start holding umpires accountable for their actions with longer suspensions and stiffer fines, otherwise these incidents will continue unabated.