Skip to content

Umpire John Hirschbeck goes looking for trouble, finds it

May 5, 2013, 7:20 PM EDT

bryce harper getty Getty Images

I have long believed that an umpire is best seen and not heard, a line often used to describe children. Like children, some umpires tend to think they are the center of attention and their offenses are of the utmost importance. John Hirschbeck was among them this afternoon, when he went looking for a confrontation and found it in Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper.

Harper check-swung on a 2-2 slider from Pirates starter Wandy Rodriguez, which just barely escaped the edge of the strike zone. Home plate umpire Bob Davidson appealed to third base umpire Hirschbeck, who ruled that Harper had swung at the offering. Harper, exasperated, expressed his disagreement with the call some 100 feet away. Hirschbeck immediately threw up his hands and yelled at Harper, like a drunk guy looking for trouble in a bar. He walked towards home plate, continuing to gesticulate and shout as Harper quietly talked to Davidson from the batter’s box. Third base coach Trent Jewett intercepted Hirschbeck as he stomped towards Harper, but it was no matter as Hirschbeck ejected Harper from the game shortly thereafter.

This reminds me of an altercation a few years ago between Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard and third base umpire Scott Barry. The circumstances were similar, though much later in the game. Barry, like Hirschbeck, was looking for a fight and got one. He ejected Howard in the bottom of the 14th inning, which forced the Phillies to use Roy Oswalt in left field.

I bring that up only as a secondary example to what happened this afternoon. An umpire should never be looking for a fight; rather, an umpire should always be striving to prevent one when possible. Like a customer service employee being yelled at by an unhappy customer, an umpire should stand statuesque, speaking calmly (or not at all). Hirschbeck’s behavior this afternoon is Exhibit A ¬†when baseball fans plead for less reliance on “the human element”.

Watch the conflict:

Latest Posts
  1. Johnny Cueto expected to return to Reds’ rotation Sunday

    May 27, 2015, 11:27 PM EDT

    cueto getty Getty Images

    Reds ace Johnny Cueto was scratched from a start last week after experiencing stiffness in his right elbow, but an MRI taken Tuesday afternoon came up clean …

  2. Video: Bryce Harper slugs his 18th home run

    May 27, 2015, 10:14 PM EDT

    bryce harper getty Getty Images

    Harper has slugged 13 home runs over his last 19 games.

  3. Cardinals GM John Mozeliak: Matt Adams out 3-4 months, possibly the year, with torn quad

    May 27, 2015, 9:01 PM EDT

    matt adams getty Getty Images

    Cardinals first baseman Matt Adams tore his right quadriceps muscle Tuesday while legging out a double.

  4. Dodgers designate Sergio Santos for assignment

    May 27, 2015, 8:23 PM EDT

    sergio santos getty Getty Images

    Santos had registered an underwhelming 4.73 ERA, 1.50 WHIP, and 15/7 K/BB ratio in 13 1/3 innings of relief this season for the Dodgers.

  5. Video: Jimmy Paredes stole home

    May 27, 2015, 7:18 PM EDT

    jimmy paredes getty Getty Images

    Just call him Jimmy “The Jet” Paredes.

  6. Red Sox acquire outfielder Carlos Peguero from Rangers

    May 27, 2015, 6:25 PM EDT

    peguero getty Getty Images

    Peguero was designated for assignment by the Rangers on May 20 after batting .186/.310/.414 with four home runs and nine RBI in 84 plate appearances.

  7. Cardinals first baseman Matt Adams out indefinitely with torn quadriceps, may need surgery

    May 27, 2015, 5:19 PM EDT

    matt adams cardinals getty Getty Images

    Adams was off to a slow start this season, but he’s hit .277 with a .770 OPS in 320 games for the Cardinals since debuting in 2012.

  8. Al Kaline’s last game

    May 27, 2015, 5:09 PM EDT

    Portrait of Al Kaline

    Everything ends badly. Otherwise it wouldn’t end.

  9. Scott Kazmir leaves the Tigers-Athletics game with an apparent injury

    May 27, 2015, 4:34 PM EDT

    Scott Kazmir AP

    A bad season for the A’s is starting to look worse.

  10. Felix Hernandez and Chris Archer dueled. Chris Archer, by one measure, pitched better. Felix Hernandez won.

    May 27, 2015, 3:36 PM EDT

    Felix Hernandez Getty Images

    Game scores are interesting things. Wins — the team kind, anyway — are far more satisfying.

  11. Orioles drop $5 million outfielder Alejandro De Aza

    May 27, 2015, 2:18 PM EDT

    Alejandro De Aza AP AP

    De Aza played very well for the Orioles down the stretch last season.

  12. Angels acquire outfielder Kirk Nieuwenhuis from Mets

    May 27, 2015, 12:50 PM EDT

    Kirk Nieuwenhuis Getty Images

    Several reports last week had the Angels in the market for outfield help.

  13. The “Selig Experience” attraction opens this week at Miller Park

    May 27, 2015, 12:36 PM EDT

    MLB Commissioner Bud Selig speaks during a news conference in New York Reuters

    “A multimedia show featuring a virtual Selig.” Yes, that’s actually a thing.

  14. Matt Wieters begins rehab assignment with two hits

    May 27, 2015, 11:50 AM EDT

    Matt Wieters Getty Getty Images

    He’s about 11 months removed from Tommy John surgery.

  15. Cubs release left-hander Phil Coke

    May 27, 2015, 11:19 AM EDT

    Chicago Cubs relief pitcher Phil Coke throws against the Milwaukee Brewers during the seventh inning of a baseball game, Saturday, May 2, 2015 in Chicago. (AP Photo/David Banks) AP

    Coke signed a one-year, $2.25 million deal with the Cubs this offseason.

  16. Buster Olney: The Marlins should hire A-Rod to be their next manager

    May 27, 2015, 11:01 AM EDT

    Alex Rodriguez AP

    And you think my A-Rod trolling kung-fu is the best. Heck, I’m an amateur.

Top 10 MLB Player Searches
  1. J. Hamilton (3305)
  2. J. Lucroy (3139)
  3. D. Wright (2947)
  4. Y. Puig (2904)
  5. R. Castillo (2705)
  1. D. Travis (2633)
  2. A. Pujols (2509)
  3. J. Cueto (2497)
  4. A. Garcia (2477)
  5. P. Fielder (2378)