Major League Umpires are one of the most tightly night brotherhoods in professional sports. If a player is labeled as someone that consistently argues balls and strikes, he's never going to get the call on anything close when it's a 3-2 count. If a pitcher stares down the ump after one supposed bad call, the same will go in turn for him. Players that have been identified as juicers, will never get a call from an umpire.
In recent days, umpires have been mulling over ejections based on hit batsmen. The issues began to garner attention this week. Milwaukee Brewers first basemen Prince Fielder was hit in the leg by Los Angeles Dodgers relief pitcher Guillermo Mota in a blowout game. After the game Prince Fielder went to the Dodgers clubhouse in an attempt to do, God knows what, to Mota. Fielder was essentially restrained by twenty of his teammates that were able to corral him and bring him away from the clubhouse doors. Fielder was fined by major league baseball but the amount was not public knowledge.
Further back than that, Tampa Bay Devil Rays pitcher, Matt Garza admitted that he intentionally hit Mark Teixeira of the New York Yankees, which makes me very happy by the way:
They can take whatever they want from it from it, but I just kind of got tired of people brushing him back. It's about time someone made a statement. I hate to be that guy, but someone had to take a stand and say we're tired of it. You can go after our best guy. Well, we'll make some noise, too, and that's what happened.
That statement also led other pitchers to announce when they had or hadn't hit batters intentionally all week. This rise in hit batters and pitchers claiming intent has resulted in umpires giving premature ejections and also allowing some pitchers to throw intentionally with no consequence whatsoever.
I'm not one to bash umpires for making one bad call. They have one of the toughest jobs in the world when you're in an away stadium and making a close call in favor of the visiting team. The issue rose to me when Ramon Ramirez of the Boston Red Sox was ejected on Saturday afternoon when he went high and inside, walking Teixeira, followed by hitting Alex Rodriguez in the next at bat. Home plate umpire Jim Joyce ejected Ramirez after just entering the game with the Sox down 2-0. No pitcher in their right mind would intentionally hit a batter, down 2-0 in a pennant race.
Intentionally hit batsmen is the hot commodity of the week. Teams have been raking in the points in standings in their fantasy umpire ejection leagues. Maybe those two fake umpires from Toronto, Tim Williams and Joe Farrell could start to call a few games. I wonder how their ejection policy works.
Thanks to MNicoleM for the photo of the Atlanta Braves Umpiring Committee.