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.

Neal Huntington thinks players should be allowed to re-enter games after concussion testing

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Pirates catcher Francisco Cervelli, who has suffered many concussions throughout his 12-year career, was hit on the back of the helmet on a Joc Pederson backswing Saturday against the Dodgers. Through Cervelli remained in the game initially, he took himself out of the game shortly thereafter and went on the seven-day concussion injured list on Sunday.

Perhaps inspired by Saturday’s event, Pirates GM Neal Huntington suggested that players should be allowed to re-enter games once they have passed concussion tests, the Associated Press reports. Huntington said, “Any player that had an obvious concussion risk incident should be allowed to be removed from the game, taken off the field, taken into the locker room, assessed by a doctor, assessed by a trainer, go through an extended period of time and then re-enter the game. Because right now, all of this has to happen on the field.”

Huntington added, “The player has to feel pressure as he’s standing there with 30,000 or 10,000 or 50,000 eyes on him. He has to feel pressure to make a decision whether (he’s) in or (he’s) out of this game. He knows if he takes himself out and he’s the catcher, there’s only one other catcher, and the game becomes a fiasco if that other catcher gets hurt.”

Huntington, who has been forward-thinking on a number of other issues, has it wrong here. The concussion protocols were created because players frequently hid or under-reported their injuries in order to remain in the game. Especially for younger or otherwise less-proven players, there is pressure to have to constantly perform in order to keep one’s job. Furthermore, there is an overarching sentiment across sports that taking time off due to injury makes one weak. Similarly, playing while injured is seen as tough and masculine. Creating protocols that take the decision-making out of players’ hands keeps them from making decisions that aren’t in their own best interests. Removing them would bring back that pressure for players to hide or minimize their ailments. If anything, MLB’s concussion protocols should become more stringent, not more relaxed.

The powers that be with Major League Baseball have no doubt followed the concussion scandal surrounding the National Football League. In January, the NFL settled for over $1 billion with retired players dealing with traumatic brain injuries, including dementia, Lou Gehrig’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and Alzheimer’s disease. For years, the league refused to acknowledge the link between playing football and CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy), which is a neurodegenerative disease that can lead to dementia and has many negative effects, such as increasing the risk of suicide. Since baseball isn’t often a contact sport, MLB doesn’t have to worry about brain injuries to this degree, but it still needs to take preventative measures in order to avoid billion-dollar lawsuits as well as avoiding P.R. damage. In December 2012, former major league outfielder Ryan Freel committed suicide. Freel, who claimed to have suffered as many as 10 concussions, suffered from CTE. MLB players can suffer brain injuries just like football players.

Huntington seems to be worried about not having enough rostered catchers in the event one or two catchers get injured. That is really an issue of roster management. Carrying only two catchers on the roster is a calculated risk, often justified. Huntington can ensure his team never has to be put in the position of not having a catcher in an emergency by rostering a third catcher. Rosters are expanding to 26 players next year, by the way.