Someone 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.
Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis has been diagnosed with a strained rotator cuff in his right shoulder, MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian reports. Kipnis has received a cortisone shot and will be shut down from throwing for the next four to five days.
There’s a lot of spring left, so it’s perfectly sensible for the Indians to play it safe with their star player. The club already had Kipnis on a shoulder strengthening program.
Kipnis, 29, helped the Indians to the playoffs after batting .275/.343/.469 with 23 home runs, 92 RBI, 91 runs scored, and 15 stolen bases in 688 plate appearances during the regular season last year. He then helped the Indians reach Game 7 of the World Series against the Cubs, where they were eventually stopped, as he provided a .741 OPS including four homers and eight RBI in 15 playoff games.
According to Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the Cardinals are keeping an eye on outfield prospect Luis Robert. The 19-year-old left his native Cuba last November and is expected to command interest from multiple MLB teams as he approaches free agency. Goold adds that the Cardinals sent scouts to evaluate Robert’s workouts in the Dominican Republic as recently as last week.
There’s still a good chance that the club won’t get a shot at signing him; as Craig mentioned last month, it seems likely that Major League Baseball won’t declare Robert a free agent until after June 15. By July 2, the new Collective Bargaining Agreement’s policies on international bonuses will go into effect, handcuffing teams with the maximum penalty for bonuses to a $300,000 signing figure for any available international prospect. It’s designed to effectively take away those teams’ abilities to sign additional international talent, and the Cardinals have already spent a reported $9.35 million in bonuses on Venezuelan outfielder Victor Garcia, Cuban outfielders Jonatan Machado and Randy Arozarena and Cuban right-hander Johan Oviedo.
Until the cutoff in mid-June, the Cardinals are likely to continue actively scouting other international talent, including Robert. MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez quotes an anonymous National League scouting director who describes Robert as the No. 2 talent behind Japanese wunderkind Shohei Otani. The 19-year-old hit .286/.319/.397 with a .716 OPS during a 16-game run in the Canadian-American League in 2016, following up an impressive three-year tenure with the Ciego de Avila in the Cuban National Series from 2013-2015.