Sunday, April 12, 2009

Circus baseball

Watching the Angels-Red Sox game, hoping Josh Beckett can put up some fantasy points for me.

Bottom of the first, runner at second, one out. Abreu calls time, for some reason the home plate ump grants time as Beckett is in his motion, so Abreu backs up and the ump signals time ... but Beckett has nowhere to go, and ends up throwing pretty close to Abreu's head. (Which is, in part, because hitters have been setting up on the plate for the last 20 years and not one umpire has ever taken the initiative to enforce the batter's box rule.)

So of course Abreu cries, Beckett walks toward him to explain something, or to tell him to suck it, or whatever, and of course the benches empty, because baseball players are more than willing to avoid being disrepected as long as it doesn't involve actually fighting.

And the umps separate them.

And then as they are separated and sent to their respective dugouts, someone on the Angels starts yapping again, and the benches clear again ... and then there is more yapping ... and more yapping ... and then Torii Hunter is ejected (although that was by Joe West, so it could have been for looking at him funny) ... and then there is more yapping, and finally everyone has been sent back to their dugouts, and we can play again.

Doubtless this would happen much less often if umpires actually enforced rules pertaining to the batter's box, which tends to lead to a lot of these root causes, or possibly if they would have better rules for calling time ... but it's like a basketball game where you start seeing a lot of hard fouls. That usually happens when players get away with a couple of early ones (either uncalled fouls or flagrant/intentional fouls that are not called as such) and the refs suddenly realize what happens when you decide to ignore things in the rulebook.

At least all the Angels doing the ump-directed yapping were ejected (Scioscia, the hitting coach, Speier, and Hunter). I mean, it wasn't like Beckett threw at Abreu with no extenuating circumstances. (That's another thing that needs to be changed, once they fix the Charley Lau syndrome: no more Pedros. Hitting a batter should be the equivalent of a card. Hit one, you're at least warned. Hit two, or one in the head or certain other ways, you're gone, no questions asked. Make a habit of it, and you'll earn some time on your own.)

sigh. Baseball could be much better, except that the commish is a dumb owner, the umps pretty much refuse to improve (although they're better than they were), and the players are still kind of the same group that were responsible for the Roid Days.

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