THE STRIKE ZONE
Sometimes Sports, Sometimes Sportsmanship
The Theater of the Absurd
On August 31, 2018, a feat occurred in a baseball game between the Yankees and Tigers that doesn't happen too often: both managers were ejected.
Aaron Boone (Yankees) was ejected by Home Plate Umpire Nic Lentz for arguing balls and strikes. Ron Gardenhire (Tigers) was ejected by First Base Umpire Paul Nauert for arguing a check swing no-call. Both cases contained an element of absurdity that further proves that the theater of baseball disqualifications regarding managers is not only a joke to the game, but also an abhorrent way to influence others who witness it.
Boone took exception with the strike zone of Lentz to the point where he made contact with the umpire and put on a demonstration in a catcher's crouch that did nothing more than delay the game and solidify his ignorance towards the arbiters of the game. What Boone probably didn't know is that, according to the official plot of the zone after the game by Brooks Baseball Pitch f/x tool, Lentz really only missed two pitches the entire game.
Further, Boone was clearly upset at his team's lack of offense and used the ejection as a way to "fire up" his team. This translates to the idea of yelling vociferously at an innocent umpire to vent your frustrations over your own team's inability to hit with the hope that your players decide to change their ways somehow.
The fact of the matter is that these arguments are rarely filled with the tirade we think they are. Usually, the manager is yelling about how bad his team is, leaving the umpire the unfortunate target of hate where the fans usually pile on him as the bad guy for tossing the manager (assuming it's the home team). In fact, even if the manager is yelling about his displeasure with an umpire, the confrontation has the ability to make even a professional umpire begin to question his calls, resulting in more displeasure.
On the flip side, Gardenhire was ejected when Nauert ruled that Yankees hitter Luke Voit did not swing at a pitch. It was a close pitch and a tough call to make in real time, but the replay seemed to make me think the call was incorrect: Voit did offer at the pitch. Gardenhire's argument resulted in ridiculous accusations that Nauert could obviously see through, but it wasn't until the argument finished that it was clear it was a joke of an argument.
As soon as Gardenhire turned around to walk back to the clubhouse, he looked right at Voit who was standing on first base (the no-call resulted in a walk) and asked him, "Did you swing?" as he walked by, followed by a smirk .
Even Gardenhire knew this was a joke.
A few days later, Boone was hit with a one-game suspension for making contact with Lentz during the confrontation. To quote Boone:
"I was arguing, I got kicked out of the game, I reacted how I reacted. Unfortunately, I got a little too close, and I do regret that. I always want to be in control of my emotions, to a degree. But sometimes you also have to state your claim and defend certain things that are important. I definitely shouldn't have nicked his cap."
In this brief statement, we got a cop-out about responsibility for one's actions and emotions as well as evidence of misplaced priorities. No mention of an apology...no mention that Lentz actually was doing a good job...just a lame way of getting around talking about something where Boone was at fault.
Sorry, Aaron. Cancer is important. Poverty is important. Borderline pitches are not.
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Baseball player, umpire, coach, fan; professional musician; founder, President & CEO of The OSIP Foundation, Inc.