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Umpires should not be discouraging emotion

Jun 2, 2013, 9:00 PM EDT

San Francisco Giants v St. Louis Cardinals Getty Images

Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina was ejected after being called out on a bang-bang play at first base to end the bottom of the third inning this afternoon in a 4-2 loss to the Giants. After first base umpire Clint Fagan called him out, Molina took off his helmet and slammed it on the ground in frustration, causing Fagan to immediately eject Molina. Manager Mike Matheny rushed out to defend his catcher and he, too, was ejected. Fagan assumed Molina’s behavior was directed at him, but as Molina told the media after the game, that wasn’t the case. Via MLB.com’s Jenifer Langosch:

The frustration, he clarified later, was not at the out call made by first-base umpire Clint Fagan. In fact, he said the call was correct. The reaction was to the play itself, as Molina, when he made contact, first thought he had an RBI hit in a game the Cardinals trailed by two.

“It was a big situation,” Molina said. “I thought I got a base hit, and they made a play. I knew I was out. I wasn’t upset that he made the call. I was upset with myself. I tried to hold my helmet.”

Fagan’s assumption speaks volumes to the mindset of umpires particularly in recent years — that everything is about them. Players can’t possibly be frustrated with themselves or with the situation; only actions directly related to umpiring are enough to get participants emotionally invested.

The antics of players across baseball help make the sport interesting. Expressive players who would otherwise not stand out can endear themselves to fans. When I was younger, Javy Lopez became one of my favorite non-Phillies for a short while because I saw him snap a bat over his knee in frustration one time. If he did that in 2013, he would have been ejected on the spot and given an equipment fine. As umpires continue to crack down on even the tamest displays of emotion, they will push players closer and closer to each other until the only thing that separates one from the other is their on-field competency. And that’s boring.

Fans like Yadier Molina not just because he’s one of the best catchers in the game, but because he very clearly cares about the game. Molina’s passion is infectious (in a good way). Allowing umpires to reign in Molina and the scores of players with a similar level of passion for the game because their egos got bruised is actively harmful to the game.

  1. brewcrewfan54 - Jun 2, 2013 at 9:11 PM

    I don’t think this is as large a problem as you’re making it. Yeah guys get tossed sometimes when an ump misinterprets the situation (Greinke last year) but guys still toss equipment plenty without getting tossed.

    • uwsptke - Jun 3, 2013 at 4:47 PM

      This is exactly like the Greinke situation last year. He’s disgusted with himself for failing to make a play and slams his glove or ball (I forget which), and the ump tosses because he thinks he’s showing him up. It’s total crap.

  2. charlutes - Jun 2, 2013 at 9:12 PM

    I totally agree but then why do you call it something else when it’s Brett Lawrie?

    • 1943mrmojorisin1971 - Jun 2, 2013 at 9:51 PM

      Maybe because Brett actually disrespected the ump by throwing his helmet at the guy and getting right in his face?

  3. randygnyc - Jun 2, 2013 at 9:15 PM

    Bull shit. I don’t care what Yadier said AFTER seeing the replay. His actions were in reaction to being called out. This should be a learning experience. When showing poor sportsmanship on the field, for whatever reason, you’ve got to hit he showers.

    • paperlions - Jun 2, 2013 at 9:23 PM

      Bullshit.

      His reaction was not in response to the umpires call, it was in response to being out. He didn’t look at the umpire, he didn’t say anything to the umpire, he even turned away from the umpire and was walking to the dugout when he realized he had been tossed.

      What I want to know is what the umpire said to him. He started the follow the ump (who wisely walked away), but stopped and was turning away. At that point, he wasn’t emotional toward the ump at all. Then suddenly he went after the guy. The ump said something at that point that set him off.

      Even the umpires guidelines for player ejections state that players may be ejected for throwing equipment in response to a call (not just for throwing equipment out of frustration) if the violation is sufficiently severe. But the guide lines suggest a warning is what is appropriate in that situation, if anything.

      • skids003 - Jun 3, 2013 at 8:00 AM

        I’m with you randy. Maybe we should start an encounter group to meet after a call the players don’t like, have a kumbaya session, and it would get these bleeding hearts happy before we play on.

      • greg551 - Jun 3, 2013 at 8:02 AM

        Clint Fagan should be sent to the Minor leagues for retraining.

        Him and Mitchell Boggs deserve each other.

    • stlouis1baseball - Jun 3, 2013 at 10:09 AM

      Bullshit Randy. He did NOT do it as a result of being called out. It was obvious (had you seen the play live). Obvious by his immediate reaction…obvious by his comments during the argument…and obvious by his comments after the game. The difference here is he did it away from the ump. He didn’t do it toward the ump. It didn’t hit the ump (like Brett Lawrie). Hell…he was walking back to the dugout after it happened. Only after learning he was ejected did he start arguing.

    • spudchukar - Jun 3, 2013 at 10:28 AM

      Once again Randy, you have displayed total ignorance. No one who witnessed the Molina incident could come to your analysis. Fagin is a “replacement” ump, recently elevated from the minors. He is an arrogant little man, who jumped to a conclusion, one he didn’t see immediately, and if Baseball had one grain of integrity they would censure him. But they won’t cause of “the thin blue line”.

      If “sportsmanship” were a Hardball guideline you would have been tossed from this site long ago. But, you are tolerated, ignorance and all, cause that is a better course of action. You and Clint Fagin ought to go have a beer, you deserve each other.

  4. commonsenseisnotcmonman - Jun 2, 2013 at 9:17 PM

    If umps focused more attention to getting calls right maybe they wouldn’t have to worry about players reacting to their calls.

    • brewcrewfan54 - Jun 2, 2013 at 9:34 PM

      Why do people all of the sudden think umps don’t want to get calls right?

      • bendover09 - Jun 2, 2013 at 9:38 PM

        Las Vegas. NBA already has front row seats

      • brewcrewfan54 - Jun 2, 2013 at 9:50 PM

        NBA sure because we all know they want the big markets winning the championships. Baseball though, the calls are missed against both the haves and the have nots so the Vegas argument doesn’t hold water with me.

      • dentals1 - Jun 3, 2013 at 9:19 AM

        Why do poeple think umpires don’t want to get calls right? Angel Hernandez?

      • dentals1 - Jun 3, 2013 at 9:19 AM

        Why do people think umpires don’t want to get calls right? Angel Hernandez?

  5. churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Jun 2, 2013 at 9:21 PM

    While I understand the umps need to control their emotions, isn’t throwing your helmet an automatic ejection? Where’s the issue?

    • paperlions - Jun 2, 2013 at 9:26 PM

      Nope, it is an automatic fine. Throwing equipment can only be an ejection if it is in response/protest to a call and if it is “severe”.

      “Throwing equipment in disgust over an umpire’s call may be grounds for ejection. If the umpire deems the action severe, the umpire may eject the offender. If league regulations permit, the umpire may instead warn the offender by issuing an equipment violation. If issued, the offender is to be notified immediately.”

  6. hockeyflow33 - Jun 2, 2013 at 9:28 PM

    Yea the ump is a db but how about act like an adult and just go to the dugout?

    • Bill Baer - Jun 2, 2013 at 9:32 PM

      Not sure why acting like an adult is the ideal here when we’re watching grown men wearing pajamas chase a ball around a field.

      • hockeyflow33 - Jun 2, 2013 at 9:34 PM

        Because there’s nothing like watching grown men throw temper-tantrums right?

      • paperlions - Jun 3, 2013 at 7:21 AM

        Says the hockey fan. Irony much?

      • hockeyflow33 - Jun 3, 2013 at 1:45 PM

        Not sure what that has to do with hockey since it is very frowned upon in the hockey community to make the game about yourself but sure.

      • wretchu - Jun 4, 2013 at 1:48 PM

        You must not watch much hockey then if you’ve never seen a goalie smash his stick on the pipe, or a player retaliate against another by slashing him in the knee, or a random goon going out and fighting the other team’s top player.

        Look, I love hockey too, but c’mon, that’s not all sportsmanship and grown-up behavior either.

    • stlouis1baseball - Jun 3, 2013 at 10:11 AM

      Hockey: He was going to the dugout…until he realized he got tossed.

  7. ncm42 - Jun 2, 2013 at 9:39 PM

    Because of their repeated inability to get calls right, even when they have instant replay at their disposal.

  8. creek0512 - Jun 2, 2013 at 9:44 PM

    The important thing is that the fans go to the ballpark to see the umpires and that’s what they got today, so everybody wins!

  9. wardmanone - Jun 2, 2013 at 9:46 PM

    It’s was Yadie who shouldn’t have slammed helmet, and umpire who should have walked away. In game against the Royals and Cards Jeff Francour did the same thing and didn’t get tossed umpire walked away. Need we state the obvious no one is paying to see the Umpires. So if Bud has clue fine Yadie and fine the Ump

  10. jonirocit - Jun 2, 2013 at 10:06 PM

    Did u even watch the game ? What if the helmet would have hit someone ? He needs to be checked for elevated testosterone levels after that outburst . He tried to kill that ump and that shows he has no control … Either way throwing your helmet is ridiculous. The greatest hitters of all time in their best got out 6 outta 10 times take it easy big guy … Dude made a great play and you didn’t hustle if you want get pissed go in the tunnel and punch yourself in the nuts you freak .. And any of the “greatest fans on earth that defend his behavior are idiots ” either way they still are need I remind you about the Big Mac era …

    • kylewo - Jun 2, 2013 at 11:36 PM

      Trying for “Most Deranged Post Ever”?

      • theskinsman - Jun 3, 2013 at 4:22 AM

        Top ten nominee.

      • thomas655 - Jun 3, 2013 at 5:58 PM

        “He tried to kill that ump”? I think we have a winner for Most Deranged!!!!

    • perryt200 - Jun 3, 2013 at 1:35 AM

      Ya foul balls, broken bats, bats that get loose and fly in the stands; all that pales when compared to the dreaded helmet injuries…

  11. junglerat524 - Jun 2, 2013 at 11:28 PM

    Pretty simple. Don’t throw your helmet. They teach that it little league.

  12. mullman76 - Jun 2, 2013 at 11:30 PM

    Baseball is struggling. From blown calls to power tripping umpires.

    I love my ball, but it has become hard on the eyes as of late.

  13. ndnut - Jun 2, 2013 at 11:31 PM

    Douchenozzle award nominee for the ump?

  14. soutsidemike - Jun 2, 2013 at 11:41 PM

    Umps are so worried about being shown up, that they forget how THEIR actions actually come across

  15. nothanksimdriving123 - Jun 3, 2013 at 4:24 AM

    Same damn thing happened last year to Bryce Harper. He was, to most of us watching, pissed at making a crucial out at first and down went his helmet and the it’s-about-me umpire tossed him instantly. Seems they now focus heavily on mind-reading at umpire schools, but like everything else they teach there, more work would seem to be needed.

    • danh35 - Jun 3, 2013 at 12:18 PM

      If I recall it right, it was CB Bucknor that ejected Harper, he’s the worst umpire not named Angel Hernandez. Let’s hope the ump that called Yadi out doesn’t become as bad as either of those two.

  16. armstrongsmissingball - Jun 3, 2013 at 7:20 AM

    The ump got the call right on both accounts…he was out at first then tossed Molina. He slammed his helmet to show up the ump. If anyone thinks he slammed it because “he was upset because he was slow getting out if the box” I got some real estate in the dessert to sell you.

    • paperlions - Jun 3, 2013 at 7:27 AM

      Please provide evidence to support your conclusion considering the fact that Molina didn’t say anything to the ump, or look at the ump, and that he immediately turned to walk to the dugout.

      • fearlessleader - Jun 3, 2013 at 9:24 AM

        Paper, personally, I’m a lot more interested in this “real estate in the dessert” proposition. What I wouldn’t give for an acre of prime property right in the middle of a really outstanding German chocolate cake….

  17. tanzkommandant - Jun 3, 2013 at 7:44 AM

    Fagan is a bigot, plain & simple. Look at his performance the whole series. He was just waiting for a chance to make that call.

  18. skeleteeth - Jun 3, 2013 at 8:16 AM

    Wow. Take it to the tunnel, man. Why would you let the other team see that?

  19. cwtstraydog - Jun 3, 2013 at 8:18 AM

    Bill Baer you ignorant slut. You do not have to look at someone to make your point about them. The rules of sportsmanship are very clear and defined in baseball. This sport was and is suppose to be a gentleman’s sport.
    this molina guy is a brute and a hot head to portray him as a greats sportsman because be behaves like a moron is everything that is wrong in journalism.
    poor sports is not entertaining and he can say what ever he wants after the fact but again the rules are very defined and written for everyone to follow.
    behave like a true competitor or get the heave hoe as a spoiled brat.

    • paperlions - Jun 3, 2013 at 9:32 AM

      If you really believe that baseball was ever a gentleman’s game. You have no knowledge of the brutal history of the sport at all. Baseball was never about sportsmanship (which is a relatively new concept), and was always about winning at all cost.

      You apparently also know nothing about Molina….or, it seems, it anything else about baseball.

      According to the official umpire standards for ejection, Molina shouldn’t have been ejected. To be ejected for throwing equipment, it must be in protest of the call (for which there is no evidence) and “severe”, which this was not. The standards advise umpires to remain calm, be patient, and issue warnings in an attempt to diffuse any situation.

      The sad thing is that this is a rookie ump, and he if this is how he responds now, it seems more likely that he’ll always have a short fuse rather than become a good arbiter of the game.

      • stevekimlaw - Jun 4, 2013 at 6:18 PM

        Actually, you are wrong. The rules grant the ump discretion to eject for unsportsmanlike conduct. Which Yadi demonstrated. I like the guy, but he is a hothead who put himself and the team in a bad position due to his lack of self-control.

    • stlouis1baseball - Jun 3, 2013 at 10:13 AM

      “This sport was and is suppose to be a gentleman’s sport.”

      Signed,
      The person who called Bill Baer an ignorant slut

  20. greg551 - Jun 3, 2013 at 8:24 AM

    To all Cardinal and Molina fans….

    Umpire Clint Fagan made a second bad call in the game.

    First bad call..

    The San Francisco player was safe at first and he called him out earlier in the game.

    I used my slow-mo on my DVR to check it out.

    I hope MLB sees the same.

    Umpires should get calls right.

    Second bad call….

    Ejecting Molina.

    MLB should consider sending Clint Fagan back to Little League for retraining.

    It’s a shame

    • thomas655 - Jun 3, 2013 at 5:54 PM

      You are absolutely right on both calls. I saw the same thing with I think it was Pence at first being called out and was definitely safe. And Yadi being thrown out for being mad at himself was terrible. He knew he was out at first. His slow running out of the box caused him to be out at first, and he knew he had caused his team to miss a chance at a big inning.

  21. bengalsucker - Jun 3, 2013 at 10:34 AM

    Yadier brings this stuff on himself. He’s known to have a bad attitude and started probably the biggest brawl of the season in 2010 all bc he’s a crybaby and can’t act like an adult. He’s a punk, plain and simple. Had Mike Trout or Buster Posey done that, nothing would have been said. But when you act like a gangbanger on the field, you get treated like one. I didn’t see the play, nor do I care to. But just knowing how Molina is tells me all I need to know as to why he was thrown out. Maybe he’ll learn to not be such a hot head.

    • perryt200 - Jun 3, 2013 at 11:00 AM

      Haters gonna hate.

      http://espn.go.com/mlb/stats/fielding/_/position/c/sort/fullInningsPlayed

      Look at those stats anyway you want to, future hall of famer and currently viable MVP Molina is prob the fiercest catcher in the game; and arguably the most important person on the StL roster. They don’t pay him any extra for catching 57 innings, so far, more than Buster Posey, he wants to do it.

      And the fierce players that play with emotion may do some stupid things. Throwing his helmet was just that a reaction from emotion, not the ump.

    • stlouis1baseball - Jun 4, 2013 at 1:16 PM

      Still delusional huh Sucker? Once again…I will repeat myself.
      I will attempt to type slower this time as it is apparent you have a learning disability.

      The brawl in 2010 happened as a direct result of YOUR BOY totally disrespecting the entire Cardinals organization by running his mouth to the media less than 12 hours prior to the next game. Then…YOUR BOY does his queer ass shin tap to Molina like they are homeboys.
      What did Yadi do? STAND UP FOR HIS TEAMMATES LIKE A GOOD CATCHER IS SUPPOSED (EXPECTED) TO DO.

      Now…carry on Junior. Should you be at the pool or something with school now out.
      Or do you have to take summer school?

  22. thomas655 - Jun 3, 2013 at 5:47 PM

    Yadi was mad at himself. If you watch him running down the line after he hit the ball, he thought that he had a hit and was half-trotting to first until he saw the ball did not get through the infield. He then began to run at his full speed, which is not the fastest. He knew that he cost his team a chance at a big inning, and so he did what he did. There was nothing aimed at the umpire regarding his temper tantrum. Yadi was upset with Yadi for not running at full speed, because he would have been safe at first. Yadi is a tremendous player and is a tremendous team player, and probably knew that he had let the team down. He knew he was out at first.

    • danwilliamsmlb - Jun 3, 2013 at 6:54 PM

      Excellent assessment of what happened. The helmet toss was done in frustration at himself, plus with the helmet itself; after he stepped on first, the helmet – as if to add insult to injury – slipped off his head and down toward his eyes and instead of catching it, he slammed it down. I doubt we will ever know the full story, but I have to believe the umpire said something to provoke Yadi, because he went from relatively calm about the situation to absolutely livid after he had turned to head toward the dugout.

  23. stevekimlaw - Jun 4, 2013 at 6:15 PM

    Who cares who Yadi was mad at? His behavior of bashing his helmet to the ground was unsportsmanlike, on the field, and in full public view. Seen by millions, including kids. If he is angry at himself (which I assume he was), go take care of it in the dugout, not on the field. If he can’t control himself, maybe he should take anger management.

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