Umpire John Hirschbeck goes looking for trouble, finds it

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I have long believed that an umpire is best seen and not heard, a line often used to describe children. Like children, some umpires tend to think they are the center of attention and their offenses are of the utmost importance. John Hirschbeck was among them this afternoon, when he went looking for a confrontation and found it in Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper.

Harper check-swung on a 2-2 slider from Pirates starter Wandy Rodriguez, which just barely escaped the edge of the strike zone. Home plate umpire Bob Davidson appealed to third base umpire Hirschbeck, who ruled that Harper had swung at the offering. Harper, exasperated, expressed his disagreement with the call some 100 feet away. Hirschbeck immediately threw up his hands and yelled at Harper, like a drunk guy looking for trouble in a bar. He walked towards home plate, continuing to gesticulate and shout as Harper quietly talked to Davidson from the batter’s box. Third base coach Trent Jewett intercepted Hirschbeck as he stomped towards Harper, but it was no matter as Hirschbeck ejected Harper from the game shortly thereafter.

This reminds me of an altercation a few years ago between Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard and third base umpire Scott Barry. The circumstances were similar, though much later in the game. Barry, like Hirschbeck, was looking for a fight and got one. He ejected Howard in the bottom of the 14th inning, which forced the Phillies to use Roy Oswalt in left field.

I bring that up only as a secondary example to what happened this afternoon. An umpire should never be looking for a fight; rather, an umpire should always be striving to prevent one when possible. Like a customer service employee being yelled at by an unhappy customer, an umpire should stand statuesque, speaking calmly (or not at all). Hirschbeck’s behavior this afternoon is Exhibit A  when baseball fans plead for less reliance on “the human element”.

Watch the conflict:

Phillies acquire Mike Morin from Twins

Mike Morin
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On Saturday, the Phillies completed a trade with the Twins for right-handed reliever Mike Morin. The Twins will get cash considerations in the deal.

It’s a fairly quick turnaround for the 28-year-old Morin, who was designated for assignment on Tuesday after the Twins returned first baseman Eddie Rosario and outfielder C.J. Cron to the active roster. In 23 appearances for Minnesota, the righty registered a 3.18 ERA, 0.8 BB/9, and 4.4 SO/9 through 22 2/3 innings, a brief but promising improvement over the rough patch he weathered with the Mariners in 2018.

As the Phillies intend to move Morin to the 40-man roster this weekend, they’ll transfer fellow right-hander Seranthony Domínguez to the 60-day injured list in order to clear a spot for the new reliever. Domínguez, 24, suffered a UCL tear in his right elbow last month and is still working his way back to the mound — though there’s speculation that he may undergo Tommy John surgery at some point in the near future.