Wednesday, August 14, 2019

What We Learned from Segal, Gardner, and Torre

After MLB Chief Baseball Officer Joe Torre publicly backed HP Umpire Chris Segal's ejection of Yankees slugger Brett Gardner in Toronto, we decided to read between the lines, tracing the Commissioner's Office-Umpires Association relationship back to Manny Machado's ejection and one-game suspension in June 2019, and noticing that ever since the fallout from that incident, Torre has made an effort to publicly bolster his sport's officials.

To recap, Bill Welke ejected Machado on June 15, 2019, leading to MLBUA's June 18 tweet criticizing the Office of the Commissioner of Baseball for inaction when MLB suspended Machado, a player with a purported history of misconduct, for just one game. MLBUA invoked the term "workplace violence," and MLB responded that it was inappropriate for the umpires' union to comment on a suspension levied against a player.
Related PostA Kick Too Far? Manny Machado's History of Misconduct (10/17/18).
Related PostMLB Ejections 092-94 - Welke, Everitt (SD) (6/15/19).
Related PostMLBUA Objects to MLB "Inaction" on Machado (6/18/19).
Related PostMLB Rejects MLBUA's Workplace Violence Tweet (6/19/19).

Less than a week later, after HP Umpire Doug Eddings ejected Asdrubal Cabrera in Texas on June 20, MLB suspended Cabrera four games when Cabrera's post-ejection batting glove toss from the dugout wound up at Crew Chief (and MLBUA President) Bill Miller's feet.
Related PostMLB Ejection 096 - Doug Eddings (1; Asdrubal Cabrera) (6/20/19).
Related PostMLB Suspends Cabrera - Too Harsh or Just Right? (6/21/19).

And ever since, with MLB-MLBUA contract negotiations in the middle, Torre seems to have been going out of his way to be kind to umpires in public, going so far now as to back Segal's ejection of Gardner because Gardner was unsporting enough to have earned an ejection, even though Segal mistakenly ejected him for something teammate Cameron Maybin said.
Related PostTorre Doesn't Want Robot Umpires in MLB (7/26/19).
Related PostJoe Torre Backs Ump Segal in Gardner Ejection (8/13/19).

In Gil's opinion, MLB feels badly about MM.
So what have we learned? Gil's Call: MLB feels badly about the underwhelming quality of its Machado suspension and has been making it up to the umpires ever since, going so far as to support an umpire who clearly made an error.

Second, we've learned that umpires should be 100% sure when communicating a reason for ejection. Had Segal told Aaron Boone he ejected Gardner for his bashing the bat against the dugout ceiling or had Segal ejected Maybin for the unsporting verbal comments, we likely wouldn't be here today. Maybe in the future, the bat-roof-slam necessitates immediate attention and possible dismissal to prevent an untenable situation from festering further and giving teammates (e.g., Maybin) the green light to say something worse.

In the end, umpires can learn a lesson from Segal's apparent misattribution of Maybin's comments to Gardner: Sometimes less is more. If the proof isn't in the pudding, the phrase "unsportsmanlike conduct" works wonders. Video as follows:

Alternate Link: What We Learned from Segal, Gardner, and Torre (CCS)


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