Let’s talk about a hypothetical situation. You’re a Major League Baseball pitcher, and you’re on the hill. The home plate umpire has been, at least in your eyes, squeezing you all game long. Either that, or he’s Angel Hernandez and nobody really knows what the hell he’s doing. You’re battling and struggling, but keeping your team in the game, all the while keeping your mounting anger at the plate ump’s perceived slights at bay. Then it happens. The manager comes out to get you. You’ve reached your pitch limit, or maybe got into a jam, and you hand him the ball. You can say whatever you want now, right? Oh sure, you might get run, but who cares? You’re not on the hill again for another five or six days.
Umpires have a pretty tough job. Some verbal abuse from players and coaches, and a lot of it from fans, is part and parcel of the deal, but MLB benefits when everybody gets along for the most part. These umps range in ability and performance from outstanding to appalling, and everything in between. I’d also bet Pete Rose a substantial sum of money that at least a few of them have a serious gambling problem — for what other explanation can there be for their consistent mind-bogglingly poor performances? They also tend to have fairly short memories, so by the time a pitcher who berated a particular umpire gets around to that same umpire calling balls and strikes again, he’ll have been hollered at by so many other players that it’s a non-issue.
But does that make it right?
Just in the past few days, Chris Sale and Madison Bumgarner were tossed out of games they were departing anyway. Sale is purported to have called the plate umpire…uh…one who does un-biblical acts with his maternal parent, while Bumgarner… let’s just say I have a tough time writing about him without bringing my personal feelings into it so you can read about his ejection here. And in a few days, both ace pitchers will take the hill for their respective teams again.