Thursday, September 27, 2007

Hey, Mike...Why Don't You Go Ahead And Sit The Next Few Games Out?

There's a reason I don't like to cover breaking news in the world of sports: my "reporting" on such issues is not exactly timely. Much of this problem derives from the fact that I work at a job that does not require my presence at a computer for the majority of the day - much of my time is spent running around from class to class. While that's not a bad way to pass the time, it does little to help my blogging productivity.

That said, I would be cheating myself and the literally hundreds of Google searchers who have passed through here in the past two days if I didn't make note of Major League Baseball's suspension of umpire Mike Winters for his role in The Greatest Player Ejection Of All-Time earlier this week. Winters will miss the rest of the regular season and the postseason for...whatever it was he did - no official reason was given for the unscheduled time off.

As of September 20, Winters was responsible for five ejections this season, second to Mark Wegner's six on MLB's Crew J:

April 14 - Orlando Hernandez, New York Mets, pitcher

Just about the only person who thought Orlando Hernandez was throwing at the opposing pitcher was plate umpire Mike Winters.

He's the only one who matters, though...

"He was getting hit pretty hard. He just gave up a home run," Winters said. "The first pitch right after the home run was right at the hitter. If it didn't hit him in the hand, it would have hit him in the chest."

Randolph, however, thought Winters overreacted. The umpire said he considered issuing a warning, but decided against it.

"It went through my mind, but given the situation, the ejection was appropriate," Winters said.

Long story short: so the Bradley scenario this isn't the first time this season that Winters has exhibited poor judgment in throwing someone out of a game. You could make a case that he had a good reason to toss Hernandez...then again, you can look at the actions of El Duque after the fact, when he calmly spoke to the player he hit (the opposing pitcher) and assured him that there was no ill will involved.

June 22 - Mike Hargrove, Seattle Mariners, manager

Seattle manager Mike Hargrove was ejected in the top of the second for arguing from the dugout with home plate umpire Mike Winters. Hargrove watched the rest of the game from the Mariners' video room.

"I was glad I was there," he said.

Winters did Hargrove a favor. The Mariners were down 9-0 after three innings and ended up losing 16-1. I wouldn't have wanted to watch it either.

June 26 - Ron Gardenhire, Minnesota Twins, manager

But the damage could have been worse were it not for an outstanding play by Alex
Rios
in right field. With Hunter on third and one out, Redmond lifted a fly ball to shallow right. Rios caught it and made a strong throw home to Zaun, who just barely tagged out Hunter before he crossed the plate to end the inning.

Hunter thought Zaun missed the tag and argued with home plate umpire Mike Winters. Manager Ron Gardenhire came to Hunter's aid and was eventually ejected.

"I just wanted to get the focus off Torii," Gardenhire said. "(Winters) made the right call."

Gardenhire made the perfect managerial move, sacrificing himself so that one of the team's best players could stay in the game.

July 12 - Ivan Rodriguez, Detroit Tigers

The 14-time All-Star catcher was ejected after arguing Yuniesky Betancourt interfered with his attempt to throw out Beltre trying to steal in the fourth. An irate Rodriguez got in the face of plate umpire Mike Winters, who then ejected him.

Rodriguez may have touched Winters, "but if I did, it was just lightly."

Rodriguez was later suspended for one game for making contact with Winters.

September 7 - Ned Yost, Milwaukee Brewers, manager

Yost didn't stick around until the end -- he was ejected in the third inning after a walk to Joey Votto.

"I was upset way before the walk," said Yost, who thought several calls went against Bush.

This was also the game in which Yost inadvertently signalled for a steal by absent-mindedly scratching a mosquito bite. No wonder he was annoyed by Winters' strike zone.

Not much you can deduce from this. Winters isn't near the top of the Umpire Leader Board when it comes to ejections (that honor goes to Phil Cuzzi and his temper, which has resulted in eight Fare Thee Wells this year) and he's not even the biggest perpetrator on his crew. On the other hand, at least one of those five ejections (Hernandez) could be considered questionable (and was criticized as such at the time), another involved him throwing out a manager who hadn't left the dugout (Hargrove), and two others were acnkowledged by the ejectee as legitimate.

Aside for Bradley's potential suspension (regardless of the circumstances, he went after an umpire in a threatening manner and probably deserves a handful of games for that), the point of this that interests me most is the end of the AP story I read on SI.com:

The remainder of Winters' crew -- Froemming, Runge and Mark Wegner -- is scheduled to work San Diego's season-ending series at Milwaukee this weekend.

It makes sense to assume that they will bring someone up from the minor league ranks to fill Winters' role against the Brewers - please, God, let it be Brian Knight - but I'd kinda like to see the crew forced to work minus a man for the series. Just because Bruce Froemming is retiring at the end of the season doesn't mean he shouldn't have to bust his ass on the field until then, right?

3 Comments:

Bruce said...

No wonder he's such a prick; he's had to work with the human version of a weeble doll, Bruce Froemming .

Anonymous said...

Bruce Froemming has had a truly awful year, that said, he's an odds on favorite to open up a bar in Wisconsin by 2010.

Anonymous said...

Living in San Diego, I'm obviously a huge Padre fan. I also am aware that Milton Bradley is almost as talented a player as he is a headcase, and I was very leery of him when he joined the Padres. He deserves a suspension, probably for 15 games (retroactive) for his outburst. But I was stunned that MLB bigwigs got this call right, suspending the umpire! Truly amazed. I wonder who actually made the decision, it couldn't have been Selig, he's useless.