In the sixth inning of the New York Yankees game against the Cleveland Indians on Saturday, all hell broke loose. It’s time for Major League Baseball to hold umpires accountable for their conduct on the field.
When Major League Baseball players blow games, they stand at their locker afterward and explain what happened. They answer questions like, “What was going through your mind on that play?,” and, “Did you feel something mechanically off in your swing?”
They stand there and answer questions when they do something stupid. Maybe they started a brawl or maybe they yelled at a teammate. It doesn’t matter. After the game, the media will ask them what happened and we hear their side of the story.
However, major league umpires don’t fall under the same media availability guidelines.
Umpires can retreat from the field after the game and disappear without having to answer for anything.
For context, please see this fantastic breakdown from the video wizard himself …
Aaron Boone, Brett Gardner, and CC Sabathia get ejected, a breakdown pic.twitter.com/oaUUv4qIDJ
— Jomboy (@Jomboy_) August 17, 2019
As you can clearly see, the umpires straight up lost all sense of personal pride and sanity for a few minutes there.
Following the game, the Yankees expressed their belief that the umpires targeted them. They believed that, as a result of the “Savages in the Box” incident, Phil Cuzzi and the umpiring crew for this series was getting back at them.
Of course, the Yankees might have a point. The umpires were clearly looking for a confrontation as soon as Cameron Maybin complained about a bad strike-three call. They stared into the dugout just waiting for anyone to whisper the slightest comment under their breath. Then, they tossed Aaron Boone the first opportunity they got.
Following that, Brett Gardner began banging his bat on the roof of the dugout, which is clearly not against the rules. That didn’t stop Cuzzi from running over, making a motion about the bat banging, and throwing Gardner out too. CC Sabathia’s comments probably warranted an ejection as I assume he used a combination of language that would ruin Christmas dinner in most households.
Of course, after all of this went down, Yankees fans wanted answers. They wanted the umpires to explain what was going on, what they heard, and what led to their decision to toss people out left and right.
Unfortunately, Yankees fans didn’t get those answers. Big-league umpires don’t need to answer to the media. However, they did give the media a bare-minimum report. In that report, they took zero accountability for the incident and explained nothing.
From the umpires room… pic.twitter.com/8QuNSjoxk8
— Erik Boland (@eboland11) August 17, 2019
Of course, bad calls happen all the time. Umpires blow calls each and every day. Those blown calls can change the very outcome of the game. Certainly, we all remember when a (perfect game/no-hitter) was taken away on the last out due to an atrocious call by Jim Joyce …
Jim Joyce mistakenly calls Jason Donald safe, leaving Armando Galarraga's bid at a perfect game one out short. pic.twitter.com/AFwaRSqiJH
— Baseball Pictures (@BasebaIl_Pics) February 20, 2014
But at least Joyce had the guts to stand in front of the media and say that he messed up. Umpires don’t need to do that. He very easily could’ve walked out of the stadium, saying only “my comments will be in the official report to the league” and washed his hands of the whole situation.
By introducing immediate accountability for umpires, the league sends a message that petty incidents like Saturday’s won’t be tolerated. If an umpire has to stand in front of 20 reporters answering questions after a game, you can bet he won’t go out of his way to create a bad narrative.
Umpires won’t seek conflict out of some need to stand up for a fellow umpire. Cuzzi won’t explicitly tell Brett Gardner that he’s throwing him out for something that isn’t breaking the rules.
Why? Because after the game, those umpires answer for their decisions. And those reporters want to know the explanation for such childish and petty conduct.
By requiring umpires to answer questions after games, we require them to act professionally. No longer will umpires be allowed to act in a petty and childish manner. “Revenge calls” become a thing of the past, because they can’t be explained after the game.
We get answers to the questions every fan wants to be addressed regarding whatever blown call or ejection changed the game that day.
It’s time for Major League Baseball to start holding umpires accountable. We live in an age where calls are dissected within minutes. While not all calls come with such atrocious disregard for an umpire’s role in the game, fans deserve an explanation for them.
And fans deserve to see umpires like Phil Cuzzi standing in front of reporters, answering questions on why they ejected a player who hadn’t done anything against the rules.