Monday, March 25, 2024

NCAA Ejection for Helmet Toss During Walk-Off HR

Georgia batter Kolby Branch found himself ejected and suspended after tossing his helmet while celebrating a walk-off grand slam, umpires opting to enforce NCAA baseball's unsportsmanlike conduct rule after the game had ended, meaning that pursuant to the post-participation ejection rules, Branch was effectively "ejected" (or suspended) for the team's next game, which was Game 2 of a doubleheader vs Alabama.

To be clear, NCAA Rule 5-17, Unsportsmanlike Conduct, states that "Game personnel shall not use language that will, in any manner, refer to or reflect negatively upon opposing players, coaches, umpires or spectators. Any orchestrated activities by any player or dugout personnel designed to distract, intimidate or disconcert the opposing team or reflect poor sportsmanship shall not be allowed."

We knew that bat flips during a game were grounds for ejection, but a celebratory helmet toss after a game-ending four-run home run?

The roots of college's decision to adopt 5-17 and emphasize its enforcement stems from a benches-clearing incident that occurred after a bat flap mid-game, but in this case, the game was already over and indeed, the plate umpire had already started walking off the field with his back turned to home plate—the first base umpire was the only official who appeared to witness the throw, convening the crew shortly thereafter to impose the ejection penalty for a violation of NCAA 5-17.

Are we going too far in legislating celebrations or is this a correct application of rule within its spirit to head off a potential game management situation in Game 2 of the Alabama-Georgia doubleheader?

Video as follows:

Alternate Link: Umps eject Branch post-game after helmet toss on walk-off granny


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