Arguing balls and strikes is generally a no-win game for hitters, pitchers and managers in Major League Baseball.
Chirping over a questionable strike call usually results in an early shower. That was the case for Toronto Blue Jays third baseman Brett Lawrie on Tuesday night at Rogers Centre, but before he left the diamond, he went a little bit crazy.
Okay... a lot bit crazy.
After umpire Bill Miller called Lawrie out on a pitch up and away in the ninth inning of a one-run game against Tampa Bay, Lawrie — who was on his way to first base — turned to argue the call. Miller immediately ejected him, and Lawrie then spiked his helmet on the turf. It bounced up and hit Miller on the hip as Lawrie proceeded to berate him. Miller then tossed Blue Jays manager John Farrell after he came to his player’s aid.
Needless to say, there’s a suspension coming for Lawrie — and it could be a long one.
“That was not my intention at all,” Lawrie said after the game. “I’ve never, ever done anything to go at an umpire before in my life, and I didn’t mean to tonight. I apologize for that.
“It’s just my passion for the game. I wanted to help my teammates out as best I could. That’s the pride I have in this game. I leave my emotions on the field.”
After the game, Miller — who remained relatively calm amid the chaos — addressed the incident.
“Upon seeing that he was ejected, he took several steps toward me and fired his helmet. It hit me in the right hip,” Miller said.
“That was quite extreme.”
One could also argue that Miller’s calls on strikes 2 and 3 where quite extreme considering their lack of proximity to the strike zone. (Lawrie was a good third of the way up the first-base line when the 3-1 pitch was called a strike.) But umpires blow calls every day, and hurling a helmet isn’t going to change that.
It was a rough night for the Jays, who managed only six hits on the night and lost ground in the American League East. But it was also a rough night for Miller, who was nailed in the shoulder by a full beer cup tossed by a fan as he walked off the field (video here from Deadspin).
How long should Lawrie’s suspension be? And is it time for umpires to face discipline for blown calls?
(H/T Big League Stew)