Earlier this week a video went viral depicting then-Mets manager Terry Collins getting into a heated argument with umpire Tom Hallion after Noah Syndergaard was ejected from a game for throwing behind a batter. We didn’t do a post about that video for its own sake because (a) it was from May 2016, so it wasn’t exactly current; and (b) it contained about 50 F-bombs in it and, while we’ll occasionally drop some PG-13 language here, we try to keep things relatively clean. Standing alone, it was just a funny video of a mic’d-up argument with some blue language. If I wanted to make content out of that I’d just post the Earl Weaver Manager’s Corner video twice a week. Which, well, maybe I should, but I like having a job.
The video, however, has become a bit more newsworthy in the past 24 hours because, we learned yesterday, Major League Baseball is trying to make it disappear:
That’s a pretty legitimate reason, actually. The purpose of such recordings is for Major League Baseball to evaluate umpires’ handling of confrontations, not for public release. Yes, the video was fun — I imagine you can still find it bouncing around the web with a cursory search if you haven’t seen it — but, really, if your bosses and you had an agreement about such things, you’d expect it to be honored.
We’ll leave the unauthorized release for MLB and its security apparatus. For now, given that the thing is back in the news, I have two takeaways from the video, which I’ll explain in a way that makes sense even if you haven’t seen it.
First, the confrontation itself. It was super heated, and for a pretty good reason actually. Syndergaard was tossed because he threw behind Chase Utley. You’ll recall that Utley, the previous postseason, broke Mets shortstop Ruben Tejada’s leg with a hard/dirty slide. The Mets were mad about this for a long time. Probably still are. This was their first shot at retaliation. I’m not condoning the retaliation, but this is what that was.
The thing about it, though: Collins did not really back down a bit from admitting it. When Syndergaard got tossed, Collins made a very brief and not-convincing attempt to argue that there was no warning to his pitcher or whatever, but Hallion noted that “we all know the situation here” or words to that effect. Collins came off his denial and, quite passionately, argued that it was crap for Syndergaard to be tossed because Utley had not been punished by the league and his guys should get their shot. Hallion acknowledged that he knew where Collins was coming from, but that he couldn’t allow that kind of retaliation to stand.
It was really an enlightening exchange. Partially because of the insight into how a guy in Collins’ position views such things and again, quite passionately, advocates for his players and their own particular sense of justice. It was also enlightening because of just how well Hallion handled the situation. He didn’t get confrontational himself and he allowed Collins to vent, but he likewise did not back down from his position. You could imagine this going one of two ways, each of them bad, with either Hallion himself getting all huffy at Collins or, perhaps, him being dismissive and taking an unimpressed “are you done yet?” approach that, while not itself aggressive, likely would’ve still pissed Collins off. Hallion, who was umping first base that night, likewise ran interference when Collins initiated things with the home plate umpire, protecting his crewmate. I have no idea how MLB actually evaluates umps for these sorts of situations, but in my book that was some A+ handling on Hallion’s part.
The second part is a bit more fun.
In a phrase that is quickly going viral itself, Hallion tried to explain to Collins that, while he got where he was coming from, his crew had to toss Syndergaard because if they didn’t they themselves would be in trouble. The specific phrase — and here’s some of that PG-13 language — was, “our ass is in the jackpot if we don’t do something here.”
The meaning of the phrase is pretty obvious, but the particular phrasing — ass in the jackpot — is absolute magic. It’s not one you hear very often if at all, but it just works, perfectly, in that way pithy little phrases like that work. Baseball is great for that, by the way. Little phrases guys use freely amongst themselves but which the outside world doesn’t really use that often or, in some cases, even know that well. The broadest example is the term “horse s**t.” Most people use the bovine, not the equine, variety in that case, but in baseball it’s always “horse s**t.” There are a lot of others, most not as obscure as “ass in the jackpot.” Not that “ass in the jackpot” is going to be obscure for long. I’m assuming 25% of all fantasy teams have been renamed to something like that by now already.
Anyway: good luck to Rob Manfred in his search for the leakers. I’m a little sad that this video can’t be featured far and wide at legitimate outlets because it’s so good, but as a pro-union guy I get that he has to police this for the good of labor relations. It’s a hard case, but I understand.
One thing that’s totally clear, however: the ass of whoever leaked it is gonna be in the jackpot if they get caught.