Jim Leyland is as mad as hell and he's not going to take it anymore

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Lost in Matt Garza’s no-hitter last night was the fact that Tigers’ manager Jim Leyland was ejected in the bottom of the third arguing an obviously blown call on B.J. Upton’s stolen base attempt.  Second base umpire Marty Foster called Upton safe. He was most definitely out. Leyland argued, but he didn’t do anything crazy. Foster tossed him, though.

Why? Watch the replay of the argument in the above link.  Foster made a big show of wiping his shirt off during the argument, right before he tossed Leyland.  Foster, Leyland says, accused Leyland of intentionally spitting on him.  Leyland ain’t having it:

“He accused me of something I didn’t do and that pissed me off and
that’s when I got going. I
had some sunflower seeds and when I was talking some sprayed on him and
he indicated that I deliberately spit on him.

“I’m not going
to take that from anybody. I’m not going to do it. I’m not going to take
that kind of accusation from anybody. That’s a blatant lie. Did some of the sunflower seeds spray on his shirt? Yes they did,
without any question. But I don’t even spit on the
ground.

“And I’m not going to take that. I’m tired of
protecting umpires. I’m tired of not being able to say anything. I’m
defending myself. If you want to kick me out, that’s fine. I don’t care
about that because it sprayed on his shirt, but when you start to accuse
somebody of doing something you better be careful.”

Leyland was asked what he’d do if he got suspended or something due to the alleged spitting. His response: “I don’t know what they’re going to do and I don’t give a s— . . .I’m tired of it.”

I don’t blame Leyland for being angry. Maybe you should get ejected if you’re arguing so much that some sunflower seeds land on the ump, but on what planet does an umpire actually think that Leyland was intentionally spitting on him, as Leyland says that Foster thought?

My guess: Foster knew he blew the call and was on edge anyway. When Leyland started giving him what-for, he was emotionally prepared to eject him as soon as possible out of sheer defense and insecurity. If, as Leyland says, Foster accused him of spitting intentionally, it was borne of some emotional need to grab whatever high ground he could in the course of the argument. My second guess: Major League Baseball watches the video and comes to the same conclusion, and that Leyland is not further disciplined.

But Foster won’t get disciplined either, of course, because disciplining an umpire would be pure crazy from Major League Baseball’s perspective.

Oh good, it’s “Yasiel Puig is a showboat” season

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With the Los Angeles Dodgers punching their ticket to the World Series, Yasiel Puig is now going to be the subject of commentary by people who tend not to care about Yasiel Puig until it’s useful for them to write outraged columns or go on talk radio rants about baseball deportment.

We got a brief teaser of this last night when, after scoring the Dodgers’ ninth run on a Logan Forsythe double, TBS analyst Ron Darling criticized Puig for his “shenanigans” and “rubbing it in.” Never mind that his third base coach was waving him home and that, if he didn’t run hard, he was just as likely to be criticized for dogging it. In other news, baseball teams don’t stop trying in the fourth inning of baseball games, nor should they.

That was just an appetizer, though. The first real course of the “Puig is a problem” feast we’re likely to be served over the next week and a half comes from Phil Mushnick of the New York Post, who wrote it even before the Dodgers won Game 5 last night:

If you were raised to love baseball and to recognize the smart, winning kind from everything less, the Dodgers’ Yasiel Puig is insufferable. As the sport is diminished by professionals who disregard the basic act of running to first base as a matter of style, Puig, an incurable home-plate poser, often makes turning doubles and triples into singles appear effortless . . . In the postseason, Puig continues to behave as if he’s in the Home Run Derby. He even seems to relish his high-risk flamboyant foolishness despite frequent backfires.

This may as well be a fill in the blanks column from 2013 or 2014, when “Puig is a flashy showboater who costs his team more than he gives it” columns were all the rage. It ignores the fact that Puig, commonly dinged for being lazy, worked his butt off in 2017, particularly on defense, to the point where he has a strong case for a Gold Glove this year. It also ignores his .455/.538/.727 line in the NLDS sweep of the Diamondbacks and his .389/.500/.611 line against the Cubs in the NLCS. In the regular season he set career highs for games, homers, RBI, stolen bases and almost set a career high for walks despite having seventy fewer plate appearances than he did back in 2013 when he walked 67 times. He’s not the MVP candidate some thought he might be, but he’s a fantastic player who has been a key part of the Dodgers winning their first pennant in 29 years.

But the dings on Puig from the likes of Mushnick have rarely been about production. They’ve simply been about style and the manner in which he’s carried himself. To the extent those issues were legitimate points of criticism — particularly his tardiness, his relationships with his teammates and his at times questionable dedication — they have primarily been in-house concerns for the Dodgers, not the casual fan like Mushnick. On that score the Dodgers have dealt with Puig and, by all accounts, Puig has responded pretty well. An occasional lapse to be sure, but nothing which makes him a greater burden than a benefit. I mean, if he was, would be be batting cleanup in a pennant-clinching game?

So if the beef with Puig is not really about baseball, what could Phil Mushnick’s issue with him possible be?

I, for one, have no idea whatsoever.