You Should Have Kept Your Helmet
What happened toward the end of Tuesday night's game between the Toronto Blue Jays and the Tampa Bay Rays is a classic example of overreaction from every side possible.
By now you've probably seen the clip of Toronto third baseman Brett Lawrie going absolutely bonkers at home-plate umpire Bill Miller for calling a questionable third strike. If you haven't here it is:
Miller pulled the classic "don't show me" routine on the young player. His actions were filled with contempt.
But so was Lawrie.
I am not advocating umpires be questioned on balls and strikes. Yet in the shadow of Tim Welke blatantly missing a call at first base during a recent Los Angeles Dodgers game, umpires are going to face closer scrutiny from the fans, as they should.
Let's start from the moment things went wrong, with the count at three balls and one strike:
Rays relief pitcher Fernando Rodney threw what looked like a pitch off the plate but at waist level. Lawrie innocently began the trot down to first, only to be called back when Miller ruled strike two. This is the classic "don't you walk away on me" routine that every umpire has pulled at one point or another.
Miller sensed Lawrie was going to argue about the call. That was when he made his big mistake.
Unless the pitch was blatantly off the plate, Lawrie was going to be toast. In short, if that ball crossed the plate, no matter what point of Lawrie's body the ball was at, Miller would ring him up. This is the classic "how dare you show me up" routine.
Except Miller was wrong. That ball was way too high, perhaps at Lawrie's neck level. This is Umpiring 101. The strike zone is over the plate between the chest and the knees. How hard is that to call? Naturally, Lawrie and then Blue Jays manager John Farrell were tossed. After all, the umpire is never wrong, right?
Here is where things got ugly.
In the heat of the argument, Lawrie flung his helmet down. It bounced off the dirt and brushed Miller's hip. That, baseball fans, is a no-no.
I don't care whether the umpire is right or wrong in this case. You simply do not hit an umpire or throw a piece of your equipment anywhere in his direction.
The same goes for the fan in the stands that threw a beer at Miller. Voice your frustration with the umpire, but don't throw anything at him.
An ugly situation all around...
I wrote something previously at FanIQ when Welke made his egregious call. I promise I am not a one-trick pony constantly calling out bad umpiring. However, Major League Baseball won't do it. It's almost afraid to take on the powerful umpire's union.
Either that or Miller had money on the Rays. (I DON'T want to go there, but after the Tim Donaghy referee scandal in the NBA, you have to ask that question these days.)
Whatever the case, Lawrie is likely headed for a suspension. He deserves it.
The fan is likely headed for a date in court, or at least a temporary ban from the Rogers Centre/Skydome. He deserves it.
Miller, on the other hand, gets off scot-free.
He doesn't deserve that.