Via Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press, Sano explained what happened.
“I didn’t want to say anything wrong to him,” Sano said. “I only said, ‘Why did you call that pitch? You don’t feel like you want to be here?’ And he threw me out.”
“He told me, ‘Get the (expletive) out of here,’ ” Sano said. “He told me that, like, two or three times. I heard it when he told me. I said, ‘You’re not supposed to (tell) me that. You’re supposed to listen to me about that pitch.’ ”
If Sano’s account is true, that’s pretty terrible on Hirschbeck’s part. It would be one thing if Sano had thrown a temper tantrum, but having watched the replay, it simply looked like he wanted an explanation. Why questioning an umpire’s judgment on balls and strikes results in immediate ejection, in the year two thousand sixteen, is beyond me. Why an umpire feels like he can instigate a confrontation with a player or manager is even more baffling.
Twins manager Paul Molitor also thought Hirschbeck’s call was terrible, but he also went to bat for the umpire. Molitor said, “Most umpires will tell you if Joe Mauer tells them he thought that ball was away, they’re going to pay more attention than if you have a young hitter who has less than 400 at-bats in the big leagues. It’s something you do have to earn over time, unfortunately, but there’s a right way to handle those situations. Hopefully the umpire takes the high road and you move on.”
I know that if I’m looking for strike zone judgment, I’m definitely listening to Sano over a veteran like Adam Jones, who has an absurdly low career walk rate of four percent. Age doesn’t beget strike zone wisdom.