The Twins lost another demoralizing game yesterday, and at one point frustration got to their young star, Miguel Sano. That came in the seventh inning when he was called out looking by home plate umpire John Hirschbeck. You can watch the video of it here.
Watching that video makes you realize that Sano was justifiably frustrated. The ball was way outside. But don’t rely on your own eyes for it. Check out the plot of the pitch:
Horrible, horrible call.
Which, fine, horrible calls happen. But this little episode grates for a few reasons. One of which is Hirschbeck’s reaction to Sano taking issue with the strike zone. Maybe a hitter isn’t supposed to argue balls and strikes, but an umpire certainly isn’t supposed to take it personally. Ideally, the ump is stoic in such instances and ejects the player if he crosses that line but ultimately doesn’t mix it up himself. Reading the lips of the ump here and seeing his demeanor, you can tell that he’s not doing anything to lower the heat of the conversation. Which, as a judge, not a combatant, he should be doing. He doesn’t answer to Sano and doesn’t have to respond. Major League Baseball should require that umps be above that.
Also annoying is the reaction to at least one observer:
I don’t know why we should just idly accept that umps, after doing a crap job, are justified in later holding it against people who note that, hey, they did a crap job. Why the lesson here is “young player should shut up and bear it” as opposed to “umpire should do better and not react in a petty fashion when he feels his authoritah is not being respected” is beyond me.
I know what people will say. “Hey, that’s baseball. You know how that goes.” Yes, I do. But just because that’s how it has historically gone doesn’t mean it’s not stupid.