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.

Matt Shoemaker to undergo MRI on sprained left knee

Matt Shoemaker
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Blue Jays starter Matt Shoemaker has been diagnosed with a left knee sprain following his early departure from Saturday’s game. He’s scheduled to undergo an MRI on Sunday, after which the club will be able to determine the extent of his injury and draw up a more definite timeline for his return to the mound.

The right-hander held the A’s scoreless through three innings of three-hit, one-strikeout ball on Saturday. In the bottom of the third, with two outs and Matt Chapman on first, Shoemaker helped complete an inning-ending putout after Chapman tried to steal second. He tagged Chapman between first and second base, but appeared to twist his leg in the process and immediately started limping away.

Shoemaker was helped off the field after the play and was swiftly replaced by righty Sam Gaviglio in the bottom of the fourth. This is the first serious injury the 32-year-old has sustained since he underwent forearm surgery and missed nearly all of his 2018 campaign with the Angels. While he’s not expected to be sidelined for quite as long this time around, it’s still a concerning setback for the Blue Jays’ no. 2 starter, who currently boasts a sterling 1.57 ERA, 2.8 BB/9, and 7.5 SO/9 through his first 28 2/3 innings of 2019.

The Blue Jays will undoubtedly feel the lack of Shoemaker’s presence over the next few days, but they managed deliver a blowout win on Saturday even without his help. Behind six innings of one-run ball from Gaviglio and Elvis Luciano, the offense mustered up 10 runs — the most they’ve collected in a single game all season — and kept the A’s hardest hits at bay with impressive catches from Billy McKinney and Freddy Galvis.