Sunday, July 8, 2012

Thoughts on Zack Greinke's ejection

Umpires have a pretty thankless job. Fans rarely acknowledge them for making a good call, berate them for making poor ones, and constantly petition to replace them with robots. As great as it would be to wear all-black uniforms outdoors in the summertime and participate in a baseball game almost 200 times a year for a living, I do not envy them. So while I sympathize with their plight, occasionally one of them does something so stupid and childish that it cannot be forgiven or forgotten. Saturday's Brewers/Astors game provided one of those moments. Observe.

On first blush, it does appear that Greinke goes ballistic about the "safe" call. Whether Altuve was safe or not is irrelevant; Greinke struck down upon the baseball with furious anger, and paid dearly for it. However, it quickly became clear that Greinke was frustrated with himself, not the safe call made by first base umpire Sam Holbrook. Nevertheless, Holbrook ejected him, and appeared to have no shits left to give while Greinke tried to explain why he was upset.

Zack initially overreacted, that much is clear. He was quoted after the game as having said, "I put him in a bad position and he had to make a decision". But that does not excuse the actions of the douchecopter that is Holbrook. While pitchers don't often show emotion the way Greinke did, how often are batters allowed to throw helmets, gloves, and bats after striking out? Or how about this bizarre play, where Rays pitcher J.P. Howell has to throw his glove once and a baseball twice before home plate umpire Vic Carapazza finally wakes up and ejects him. Generally, umpires will wait to eject a player until they know for sure what said player is upset at. Brewers manager Ron Roenicke, who was also needlessly tossed after arguing Greinke's ejection, echoed as much to reporters. "He (Holbrook) overreacted. He didn't even see what happened. Zack was behind him and he didn't even see him. You need to know; you need to know 100% what happens when you kick out a starting pitcher."

Although the Brewers lost the game 6-3, it's impossible to blame it entirely on the ejection (the Astros had just scored a run to take a 1-0 lead on the play). After all, since Greinke threw only four pitches before his early departure, he could easily start Sunday's series finale. But Holbrook's ejection of Greinke shows tremendous narcissism, where any negative emotion shown by a player must be directed at an umpire. It's ironic, considering that people defend umpires by bandying about the "human element" excuse, while umps like Holbrook demand that players be robotic and devoid of emotion. The saddest part of all of this is that Holbrook will likely see no punishment. He may be fined (which we have no way of knowing), and at worst will receive no more than a one-game suspension, which is what Balkin' Bob Davidson got for ejecting and hurling F-bombs at Phillies manager Charlie Manuel. And the best part? If Greinke does indeed start Sunday, the scheduled home plate umpire is.....Sam Holbrook. 


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