Friday, June 1, 2012

Bud Selig Meets with Ken Hawk Harrelson over Umpire Rant

Ken "Hawk" Harrelson and MLB Commissioner Bud Selig spoke on Thursday regarding comments Harrelson had made during Wednesday's White Sox-Rays game after home plate umpire Mark Wegner ejected Chicago pitcher Jose Quintana for throwing at Tampa Bay right fielder Ben Zobrist. Manager Robin Ventura was ejected during the subsequent pitching change for arguing Quintana's ejection.

White Sox/Comcast/WGN broadcaster Ken Hawk Harrelson
News of Selig's meeting with Harrelson was broken by the Hawk himself: "I talked to Bud Selig yesterday, we had a talk. Actually, Bud talked and I listened. If it was a prize fight, they would have stopped it in the first round."

White Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf also addressed Harrelson regarding his on-air comments directed at Wegner, while Sox senior vice president of sales & marketing Brooks Boyer said Harrelson will address his behavior during Friday night's broadcast: "We've discussed it, and we'll talk about it on the air and it will be gone as of tonight."

Boyer additionally hinted his support of Wegner's call while obliquely criticizing Harrelson's judgment in choosing to blast the umpire: "I could certainly be wrong but I think this was a good way for [Harrelson] to understand the importance of what's going on on the field. I think moving forward those type of bursts and snaps will be limited if not eliminated."

On Wednesday, Harrelson angrily vented and ranted about Wegner and several other unnamed MLB umpires: "You've got to be bleepin' me! What in the hell are you doing? What are you doing Wegner? You've got to be kidding me. That is so bad that is absolutely brutal. That is unbelievable."

Had Harrelson stopped there, he might have saved Selig the trip. Instead, Harrelson continued: "I'll tell you what, they have got to start making guys be accountable. That is totally absurd. Here's an umpire in the American League that knows nothing about the game of baseball. They have got to do something about this. They have got some guys in this league that have no business umpiring. They have no business umpiring because they don't know what the game of baseball is about and he is one of them. We have always had problems with this guy right here. I'll tell you, he ought to be suspended. He ought to be suspended and if they want to keep him as an umpire, send him back to school and teach him what the game is about."

Even after the pitching change commercials, Harrelson continued, showing off his math skills: "This guy behind the plate, Mark Wegner, has just made one of the worst calls in…I’ve been part of this game in all of part of 7 decades, 53 years, that is one of the worst calls I have ever seen in my whole career. He has no clue what this game is about. Wegner has no clue. He has no clue. None. Zero. We have seen him make not that bad of a call, but we’ve seen him make some terrible calls in the past. And now he throws out Robin. Robin is gone….There’s got to be some place…some place there is accountability. Incompetence like that…That’s sickening…It is an embarrassment to the game of baseball. It is an embarrassment to the profession of umpiring. I guarantee that is an embarrassment to Mike Winters, the crew chief."

The next inning, Harrelson wasn't quite finished: "[Mark Wegner] has no business being a major league umpire because he does not understand the game...Should this guy be umpiring postseason play? Because he's done it. No way!"

Boyer went on to praise Hawk's passion and dedication to the White Sox organization, but clearly differentiated between passionate homerism and umpiring rants: "He snapped."

Stay tuned tonight as the UEFL presents coverage of Hawk's on-air discussion of Wednesday's comments.

5:00 p.m. (PT): No, this isn't quite The Decision, but it is rare for a broadcaster to be counseled by an MLB Commissioner concerning remarks he has made on air. White Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf also spoke with Hawk and has promised us a "talk about it" during tonight's Mariners-White Sox broadcast. We're calling it Hawkmaggedon.

5:01 p.m. (PT): The Comcast Sportsnet broadcast has begun and the Hawk is set to address his audience, looking chipper in his sunglasses and Comcast jacket. Harrelson and partner Steve Stone have begun by previewing tonight's matchup before throwing to commercial.

5:07 p.m. (PT): As fate would have it, Hawk will enjoy Joe West's crew for the Mariners-Sox series. Andy Fletcher has the plate and the crew chief is at second base. We anxiously await the first balk call.

5:11 p.m. (PT): As the contest begins, Harrelson remains mum on the issue.

5:19 p.m. (PT): At the conclusion of the first half inning, Harrelson has sounded especially dispassionate this evening and hasn't questioned a call, even though pitch f/x indicates Fletcher missed at least one call against Chicago (strike called a ball). Not one "he gone."

5:23 p.m. (PT): The first officiating controversy of the night goes against Seattle, Eric Wedge puts up a brief argument concerning an Alejandro De Aza hit by pitch vs. foul ball call. Harrelson stays out of the argument and does not give an opinion one way or the other.

5:26 p.m. (PT): Perhaps Gordon Beckham's two-run home run has awakened the Hawk. Harrelson excitedly gave his "you can put it on the board" and "mercy" calls and appears back to his old, passionate self.

5:30 p.m. (PT)CSN Chicago has reported the following quote: "I’m going to do everything in my power not to let it happen again, but who can say? I’ve snapped before. If I tell you right now it won’t happen again, I mean it. But I couldn’t guarantee it." Hawk also characterized Selig and Reinsdorf's counseling as decidedly one-sided.

Is Hawk truly done ranting about umpiring?


Adam said...

I'm not a fan of Hawk and I thought his rant was about as unprofessional as could be, so much that I wrote an e-mail to Comcast sports and WGN stating my opinion of his performance and saying I thought an apology would be necessary. Glad that Selig stepped in and talked with him as well, but he's not an employee of MLB so what can Selig actually do to him? He can penalize the Sox but that is not likely, at least I don't think it is. Of course WGN/Comcast can fire him but what i'd be most interested in knowing is what is his penalty if he goes on another rant? I'm not opposed to him criticizing umpires but I think we all agree he crossed the line.

Anonymous said...

article from yahoo, despite the title asking for replay, it has a relatively even-handed and sympathetic analysis of umpires.

Anonymous said...

What a joke. A homer announcer goes off about a call against the home team. Next thing you know the commissioner is stepping in because he hurt the umpires' feelings. MLB needs to hire some grown men to be umpires and send this Generation Thin Skinned Bunch packing.

UmpsRule said...

@ Anon 2:05

And just how do you know Wegner's feelings are hurt? Has he even commented on the situation yet?

Actually, I think you are just channeling the typical umpire hatred that is seen in the vast majority of baseball fans today, a hatred sometimes fueled by people like Harrelson.

UmpsRule said...

Hmmmm, close vote going on right now. Actually, I find the current 63-1 disparity to be somewhat hilarious.

Anonymous said...

The worst announcer in the history of baseball. I will now go to the White Sox's website just to view the videos of bad plays for the Sox to hear how upset he gets. It's HILARIOUS.

Anonymous said...

I find Bud's actions disingenuous. Earlier this year, Bob Brenly stated that C B Bucknor should be sent to the minor leagues. Hawk only says Wegner should not be working playoff games. Which one is worse?
Of course, Brenly also works for a National Network, so Bud is certainly not going to talk to him.

Anonymous said...

Lee... did you miss the part of Hawk's rant where he says Wegner should be: (1) suspended, (2) sent back to school because (3) he knows nothing about baseball, (4) has no clue and (5) has no business being an umpire?

I think it's most telling that Hawk's boss in Chicago, Brooks Boyer, admitted that Selig's stern talk, "was a good way for him to understand the importance of what's going on on the field."

Read between the lines—even Boyer knows Wegner had some merit.

UmpsRule said...

@ leeballanfant

Let's not forget that Bucknor is considered one of the worst umps. However, if Brenly did say that about him on television, with millions of people listening, then Brenly should be reprimanded as well. He should also not get any playoff assignments this year.

TXWrangler said...

As a Cubs fan I was watching the game when Brenly went off on CB. The exact quote was "If the batters had as much trouble at the plate as CB does behind it, they would be in the minor leagues or carrying a lunch bucket somewhere." LOL LOL LOL OK, was it professional? NO, but it was a FAR CRY from the rant that Hawk made. I actually thought it was pretty damn funny!

Anonymous said...

This old bag has been announcing 53 yrs apparently...TIME TO RETIRE or pretty much FIRE HIM! What he said and did is a disgrace to baseball,and broadcasting. He had NO business saying what he did. FIRE HIM! Talking to someone doesn't get the message across....firing does.

Curt Crowley said...

UmpsRule, not trying to be argumentative with you, but am trying to understand where you're coming from. If Bucknor is considered by so many to be one of the worst umpires, what's wrong with a commentator saying so?

If an umpire is consistently bad, is no one permitted to say it out loud?

UmpsRule said...

@ Curt Crowley

If Brenly wants to simply state that Bucknor is regarded as one of the league's worst umps, that's fine. But announcers seem to have trouble doing something like that in any sort of classy way.

UmpsRule said...

Also, if you want to see more Tigers ejections, you should be pleased to know they currently have the Layne-Davidson-Wendelstedt-Bellino crew.

SJR said...

Bah, I wanted to hear Hawk eat crow on the air tonight, but WGN is broadcasting the Cubs game. I hope somebody uploads his comments tonight on YouTube.

TXWrangler said...


Thank goodness for MLB Extra Innings. Gonna dial it up at 7pm and hear what the old bat has to say.

LOL I saw that crew was in Detroit, should make for a wild weekend. Maybe some "in your face" F-BOMBS from Davidson tomorrow at Leyland? LOL

UmpsRule said...

Sounds like Adrian Johnson missed a fair/foul call that may give Johan Santana a no-no.

Anonymous said...

Hawk is a tool. Has been for a while. Its one thing to be a homer but he is consistently over the line.

Anonymous said...

Hawk is a tool. Has been for a while. Its one thing to be a homer but he is consistently over the line.

Anonymous said...

Hawk is a tool. Has been for a while. Its one thing to be a homer but he is consistently over the line.

Big Marc said...

I think you guys are missing why the hawk got the talk (from selig). He called out MLB to "do" something about Wegner. He called for Mark to be sent back to the minors and be retrained.
Now do you understand his problem?
He's saying MLB can't train umpires, and they don't know what the hell they are doing. And He basically told Selig how to do his job.
I actually think if he would have just went on and on about Mark was horrible he would have been fine. He started to call for MLB action on live TV to millions. I'm sure a few misguided calls were placed on the Hawks behalf asking what MLB was going to do. After MLB had a look, I'm sure THEY thought........ WTF Hawk? We need to Talk.

In your Ear Hawk Harrelson!
I still like the guy, sorry, I like passionate baseball people, crazy or not.

Anonymous said...

Leave hawk alone, im sure will hear from him very soon. You can put it on the boards!!!!!!!, Yes!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Arik said...

The tally has gotten even funnier... 102-6 for Hawk to stick his foot in his mouth again.

LouOCNY said...

Doesn't MLB have right of refusal on announcers? I mean, usually it is a rubber stamp, but I bet Selig told both Harrleson and Comcast that the rubber stamp COULD become a hammer, if Harrelson did not apologize....

Anonymous said...

"Harrelson continued, showing off his math skills: "This guy behind the plate, Mark Wegner, has just made one of the worst calls in…I’ve been part of this game in all of part of 7 decades, 53 years..."

Before you ridicule his math skills, maybe you should read the quote. He was quite correct. "... part of 7 decades, 53 years." He was signed by the A's to the minors in 1959. 50's, 60's, 70's, 80's, 90's, 00's, 10's ... that's part of 7 decades.

No fan of Hawk (in fact, can't stand him), but just sayin'...

UmpsRule said...

Harrelson appears to have apologized to Wegner:

Anonymous said...

It's funny, Harrelson is adamant he didn't "apologize" to Wegner, but he DID have a meeting with the president of the World Umpires Association... who is Joe West.

Joe West quote:
"Hawk and [White Sox chairman Jerry] Reinsdorf came into see me, and Hawk was very sincere with his comments about what he had said," West said (ESPN Chicago). "He told me 'Joe, I would rather have a fistfight with you then go through what I have over the last few days.' What Hawk did showed a lot of class, and we really appreciate that he called Mark as well. This is a good day for everyone in baseball."

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