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More umpires gone wild: Bill Hohn ejects Roy Oswalt

Jun 1, 2010, 10:20 AM EDT

Roy Oswalt ejection.jpgSomeone at Major League Baseball needs to stage an intervention because the umpires are out of control. Last week we saw Joe West and Bob Davidson decide that the game was all about them. Yesterday it was Bill Hohn’s turn.

The scene (which you can see here): the Astros-Nationals game. Hohn was behind the plate and had been rather erratic with the balls and strikes.  After Roy Oswalt registered his disgust with a call — with his back turned to the plate, mind you, so he wasn’t barking at Hohn directly — Hohn comes out from behind the plate, takes his mask off and seems more interested in confronting Oswalt than officiating a ballgame.

Maybe the lip-readers among you can tell me differently, but to me it looks like Oswalt, when he noticed Hohn approaching, said “I’m not talking to you.”  Apparently telling an umpire that you’re not berating him is enough to get you ejected now, because that’s what Hohn did to Oswalt.  In doing so he changed the complexion of the game, caused the Astros to unnecessarily tax their bullpen and likely affected the outcome of the next couple of Astros games.

Every single person in a position of authority, be they a boss, a teacher a judge or whatever is taught that to maintain respect and control you have to maintain your composure and be the more mature actor. Somehow the umpires never learned that lesson, because they seem to be picking fights right and left these days.

If Bill Hohn wants to make a point about his strike zone, the way to do it is to keep calling his game the way he wants to and let the complaints of others roll off his back. They’ll get the message quickly. Instead he decided that his ego was more important than his authority and he wrongfully inserted himself into the game.

It was yet another shameful display by an umpire. Baseball had better do something about it quickly.

  1. Drew - Jun 1, 2010 at 11:11 AM

    I’m glad you hit on this one, Craig. I came here yesterday expecting to see your outrage at this one, which seems like the most egregious example of umps gone wild so far, but you hadn’t yet seen it. I couldn’t believe what I’d seen. The fact that Oswalt specifically says “I’m not talking to you” and then gets tossed for it is insane. And why Hohn felt he should come out from behind the plate and seek confrontation is anyone’s guess. Clearly, Oswalt was upset with the (totally ridiculous) strike zone, but he didn’t do anything to argue a call. Most of the time he just got a smile on his face, as though he recognized how ridiculous the call was, but knew better than to say anything. Someone’s got to do something about this.

  2. BC - Jun 1, 2010 at 11:19 AM

    MLB won’t do anything about it, and the Umpires Union just buries all this stuff – you never find out anything.
    My suggestion? Selig needs to pull a Reagan-Airtraffic-Controllers thing and just fire them all. Punt the Union, bring up AAA guys next year and start fresh. Over 50% of the umps are worthless.
    ALSO – I am NOT anti-union. I am only anti-bad-umpires and anti-umpires-union. I mean for crying out loud, you have more visibility into the Papal Conclave than you do into the umpires union (does white smoke mean a suspension and black smoke no suspension, or is it the other way around, I forget). They’re like that secret society at Yale. Punt these guys and position so MLB deals with the umpires directly and not this sacred shroud of the union.
    Oh, and by the way, Joe West is president of the union (technically known as the World Umpires Association). So clearly things are very much in order there.
    OK, I’ll get off my soap box now.

  3. sjp - Jun 1, 2010 at 11:49 AM

    The only surprising thing is that it took Bill Hohn this long to make a spectacle of himself this year. He usually is on the leading edge of the curve.

  4. NBCUNIadmin - Jun 1, 2010 at 12:04 PM

    surprising thing…

  5. David James - Jun 1, 2010 at 1:09 PM

    The umpires seem to be the ones that think they are bigger than the game these days.

  6. Robert - Jun 1, 2010 at 1:34 PM

    Maybe its time for technology to replace some umps.

  7. BIGBRUCE11047 - Jun 1, 2010 at 2:08 PM

    After I saw the video of Oswalt on the mound several times, it looks to me like he was “arguing balls and strikes” which can get you ejected. It also looked like Oswalt was trying to upstage the umpire. Hey, if the umpire is being inconsistent on the strike zone, it is OK if the treats each team the same way. I think I would have ejected Oswalt myself.

  8. Joe Average - Jun 1, 2010 at 2:49 PM

    Seems like a lot of hatred for the ump over an incident where I don’t think anyone knows what was actually said. General rule: You don’t show the ump up, which Oswalt was doing by walking around grimacing that his pitches weren’t called as strikes. Specific rule (everyone knows): You don’t whine about balls and strikes. The “I’m not talking to you” defense doesn’t fly. If he’s whining about balls and strikes to the tarp attendants with the idea of sending a message to the ump, he should be outta there…

  9. JBerardi - Jun 1, 2010 at 3:09 PM

    That’s such crap. People pay to see Roy Oswalt pitch, they don’t pay to see Roy Oswalt pitch unless he’s hurting an umpires fee-fees. While it may not reflect well on Oswalt, whining about balls and strikes should not get him run from the game. The Nationals lineup should be responsible for that, because that is the game of baseball. Officials starting confrontations with players over petty disputes is not part of the game of baseball. Craig nails it– “maintain your composure and be the more mature actor”. If they can’t do that, well, I’m sure there’s some umps at AAA who’d love to give it a shot.

  10. Joe West - Jun 1, 2010 at 3:19 PM

    Please visit my website ( and pick up your very own copy of “Diamond Dreams”. Or, the next time you’re in Nashville, look for me at John A’s Little Palace. Thank you for your support – I love you all! Peace, JW

  11. Skids - Jun 1, 2010 at 3:55 PM

    So it’s OK for a player to raise hell at an umpire, then when the umpire wants to say his piece, “I’m not talking to you.”???
    As far as the umpire changing the game, and bullpen, etc ,etc, it looks to me like Oswalt did that. It amazes me at how people think they can talk to or berate an umpire and have no repercussions. Try it before you criticize one, Craig.

  12. bigyaz - Jun 1, 2010 at 4:07 PM

    I know it’s popular to bash umpires these days, but you’re dead wrong here. A pitcher showing up an umpire over balls and strikes will (and should) be tossed every time, from MLB to high school. Anyone who has played the game knows that.

  13. curtis jones - Jun 2, 2010 at 8:43 AM

    Hohn is a joke, and has been for years. Hohn, Joe West, Bob Davidson and Angel Hernandez make all umpires look bad. And that’s a shame, because most of them are professionals.

  14. James - Jun 2, 2010 at 3:59 PM

    Skidz, the “I’m not talking to you” bit wasn’t barating the umpire. Hohn came out from behind the plate while Roy O was showing disgust in himself. He made the comment indicating that it wasn’t towards Hohn. Hohn is a pompous a$$ like several of these umpires and needs to get his shyte in check.

  15. Joe B. - Jun 2, 2010 at 9:03 PM

    Being a Tigers fan and just seeing Jim Joyce blow the final out on Gallaraga’s perfect game , I’m calling for everyone to shout out about these idiots …. If it were you or me , we’d be dismissed !!!

  16. Carl B - Jun 6, 2010 at 1:04 PM

    what the manager could have also done was to request that the umpire in question ask his fellow umpires if the might have had a different angle on the call! by doing this they could have all gotten together and looked like they were discussing the call but in fact giving the first base umpire an out of this situation and reversing his own call!
    But by yelling and screaming at him gave him no choice but to let his call stand right or wrong! No umpire can over-turn or over-rule a call by another umpire unless asked or requested by the umpire making the ruling! calmer heads could have prevailed! and yes I do read the rule book I have umpired aprox two hundred games a year for ten years
    there are ways of handling even the toughest of situations!

  17. Ross M - Jun 11, 2010 at 12:14 AM

    Joe B. I understand your frustration with Jim Joyce, however he did nothing wrong. He called what he thought he saw. When he realized his mistake he apologized to Armando for taking away his clearly perfect game. This article is about umpires who are picking fights with players for no reason other than their huge egos. Bill Hohn is a jackass.

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