Umpires should not be discouraging emotion

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Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina was ejected after being called out on a bang-bang play at first base to end the bottom of the third inning this afternoon in a 4-2 loss to the Giants. After first base umpire Clint Fagan called him out, Molina took off his helmet and slammed it on the ground in frustration, causing Fagan to immediately eject Molina. Manager Mike Matheny rushed out to defend his catcher and he, too, was ejected. Fagan assumed Molina’s behavior was directed at him, but as Molina told the media after the game, that wasn’t the case. Via MLB.com’s Jenifer Langosch:

The frustration, he clarified later, was not at the out call made by first-base umpire Clint Fagan. In fact, he said the call was correct. The reaction was to the play itself, as Molina, when he made contact, first thought he had an RBI hit in a game the Cardinals trailed by two.

“It was a big situation,” Molina said. “I thought I got a base hit, and they made a play. I knew I was out. I wasn’t upset that he made the call. I was upset with myself. I tried to hold my helmet.”

Fagan’s assumption speaks volumes to the mindset of umpires particularly in recent years — that everything is about them. Players can’t possibly be frustrated with themselves or with the situation; only actions directly related to umpiring are enough to get participants emotionally invested.

The antics of players across baseball help make the sport interesting. Expressive players who would otherwise not stand out can endear themselves to fans. When I was younger, Javy Lopez became one of my favorite non-Phillies for a short while because I saw him snap a bat over his knee in frustration one time. If he did that in 2013, he would have been ejected on the spot and given an equipment fine. As umpires continue to crack down on even the tamest displays of emotion, they will push players closer and closer to each other until the only thing that separates one from the other is their on-field competency. And that’s boring.

Fans like Yadier Molina not just because he’s one of the best catchers in the game, but because he very clearly cares about the game. Molina’s passion is infectious (in a good way). Allowing umpires to reign in Molina and the scores of players with a similar level of passion for the game because their egos got bruised is actively harmful to the game.

The Adam Eaton/Todd Frazier feud continues

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Nationals outfielder Adam Eaton and Mets third baseman Todd Frazier had to be separated in between innings yesterday in New York, MASN’s Dan Kolko reported. Nothing happened other than an exchange of words, but it continued a years-long beef between the two players.

Julia Karron of NBC Sports Washington chronicled the Eaton-Frazier history. Things began in 2016 when Eaton tried to step up as the leader of a rebuilding White Sox team, but Frazier — whose locker was next to Eaton’s — wasn’t buying it. The two came to blows in the clubhouse and had to be separated.

In 2018, Eaton slid hard into second baseman Phillip Evans, injuring Evans in the process. The Mets were upset that their player was injured and felt Eaton had violated the “Chase Utley rule.” Later that month, the Mets exacted revenge as Zack Wheeler threw at Eaton. He missed and Eaton ended up walking. As Eaton made his way to first base, Frazier yelled some choice words across the diamond. After the game, Eaton said of Frazier, “When he usually talks or chips, usually he says it just loud enough that you can hear him but you can’t understand him. So I’ll just leave it at that.” Eaton was hit in the hip by a Wheeler pitch later in the game. MLB found Eaton’s slide to be legal.

After Monday’s game, Eaton said of Frazier (via NBC Sports Washington), “He must really like me cause he wants to get my attention seems like every time we come here.”

Meanwhile, Frazier said to the media (via Yahoo’s Matt Ehalt), “You ask guys when I played for the White Sox in 2016, ask all 23 of those guys, they know what happened, for (Eaton) to even talk after that, I don’t know how you talk after that.” Frazier continued, “Men usually settle it on the field, they don’t need to talk about it. He started it, coming at me with that kind of, I’m a man, I got a mortgage to pay, two kids. Pay off your mortgage, I don’t know what to tell you.” He added, “Immaturity. If you know Adam, like every team he’s been on, you hear what people say, you understand it. I was part of it for a year and a half.”

Can we just get these guys a reality TV show already?