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John Hirschbeck tried to pick a fight with Yasiel Puig

Aug 20, 2013, 12:30 PM EDT

I didn’t see this happen and can’t find video, but Jeff S., a reader and HBT correspondent, alerts me to something that happened in last night’s Dodgers-Marlins game.

In the fifth inning, Yasiel Puig struck out. Strike two was a bad call. After the call and after the strikeout, Puig didn’t say a word to home plate umpire John Hirschbeck. He rolled his eyes and showed some displeasure as he walked, but barely turned his head.  No biggie, right? Small beer in the grand scheme of players being upset at umpires’ calls?

Except then Hirschbeck ripped off his mask and yelled at Puig, apparently trying to goad him into an angry reaction.

source: Getty Images

Why are umps allowed to jaw at players and managers? If the player gets out of line, sure, eject them. But when someone merely rolls their eyes or notes his disapproval with a call — and when the player is all the way back to the dugout — why shouldn’t the ump be expected to keep doing his job and ignore it? What possible reason does Hirschbeck have for staring down Puig like this?

It has nothing to do with his authority being undermined. Indeed, by not reacting at all to the player, the umpire would be showing him that his authority is not even subject to being questioned.

Maybe that’s harder than it sounds, but it’s what the goal should be.

  1. Blackhawks5xchamps - Aug 20, 2013 at 3:13 PM

    These umpires are partially the reason I can’t watch this sport any longer. They make themselves think that they are more important to the game than they actually are. I’m sick and tired of these old (I seriously think some of these guys have eye issues) blind and ignorant umpires ruining the game. What happened to umpires actually caring about making the right call or not? It seems that these guys are just making a spectacle out of themselves more than the sport itself.

    • deaninajijic - Aug 20, 2013 at 4:13 PM

      I keep watching, but for the 2nd time in a week the Angels were robbed of a run on a call. They keep saying one play doesn’t affect a game, but who knows what would have happened if the 3rd out hadn’t of been called incorrectly on both these plays. Do they do eye checks \\during the season?

    • spursareold - Aug 20, 2013 at 4:25 PM

      They’re turning into NBA refs.

      Here’s a clue, arbiters of sports games: if the fans know your name, you’re probably not doing your job.

      No one is paying to see you call the game.

    • lawrinson20 - Aug 20, 2013 at 4:59 PM

      One of the ‘issues’ with human nature. Put someone in front of an audience and/or camera, and that person modifies his behavior to ‘be a star.’ Umpires ought to be invisible. But, (too) many allow small-mindedness and egos to insert themselves into the games. One, in particular, has a very delayed Ball/Strike call. Either he’s got a buffering issue, or he’s just calling attention to himself. Another ump has a very demonstrative and unique B/S call… Another preening schmuck.

      MLB ought to make efforts to standardize all this and to eliminate the nonsense. No one in the history of the world has ever attended or watched a sporting event because of an attraction to the refereeing.

  2. senioreditor2 - Aug 20, 2013 at 3:22 PM

    I say, miss a sign or two and that’ll snap them back into shape!

  3. gagnestyle - Aug 20, 2013 at 3:43 PM

    Keep in mind, Puig does not speak English. Because of this, umpires might be quick to interpret his body language as a substitute for a foul demeanor that with most other players would be expressed in words, both mild and distasteful. English is the spoken language of baseball here in the US even though the percentage of foreign-born players is rising.
    Puig had every right to be upset about the call but I think he needs to focus on improving upon the fundamentals, on the diamond and with the English language. Swinging at the high fastball for strike three might have been avoided had the call on strike two not gotten to his head. Let Don Mattingly deal with the umpires in this case. Big deal if Donny gets tossed. Puig is too valuable to the Dodgers to be tossed, especially in a one run game. The Wild Horse has a bright future and I enjoy watching him play every day. I hope he can learn from players like Mariano Rivera, who Puig had a chance to meet a few weeks ago in Los Angeles and New York, how to navigate the game with class.

    • deaninajijic - Aug 20, 2013 at 4:18 PM

      Players swing with 2 strikes at pitches they would never swing at with 1 strike, just as a ball call forces the pitcher to often throw a different pitch on 2-0 or 3-1 then 1-1 or 2-2, so that part of your argument doesn’t hold water. Also, while it’s a tough job, it’s no excuse for the umpires losing their tempers so often.

      • gagnestyle - Aug 20, 2013 at 4:25 PM

        I agree with you that John Hirschbeck was out of line.

      • gagnestyle - Aug 20, 2013 at 8:24 PM

        Okay, my apologies to Yasiel Puig for being so critical of his play last night. I just read the news that he was in the club in Miami the night before this game partying with Lebron James.

    • raysfan1 - Aug 20, 2013 at 8:49 PM

      It does not matter whether the batter speaks English or not–if he walks back to the dugout/does not get in the ump’s face, the ump needs to not get offended and escalate what is otherwise a nonevent.

  4. chunkala - Aug 20, 2013 at 11:34 PM

    Knocking off a few umps would be a good start. Maybe they’ll concentrate a little harder knowing their lives could be on the line.
    If that’s too extreme for you, I suggest either multiple pitcher-catcher mixups during the game or simply targeting them with baseballs between innings when they aren’t looking.

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