THE STRIKE ZONE
Sometimes Sports, Sometimes Sportsmanship
In a society where people are innocent until proven guilty, we must preface this story by stating that we cannot prove intent. The only judgment we can give is that from the court of public opinion, not one with any actual legal weight.
Last season, an incident occurred where MLB umpire Quinn Wolcott was hit with a fastball up around the head/neck area from Detroit Tigers pitcher Buck Farmer. The incident immediately followed Wolcott's ejection of both Tigers catcher James McCann and then manager Brad Ausmus over balls and strikes.
The problem wasn't just that Wolcott was hit, but that the immediate reaction was incredibly telling by the Tigers. As soon as Wolcott went down, Cleveland Indians batter Yandy Diaz was the only one to tend to Wolcott until base umpires Brian O'Nora and Paul Emmel made it to the plate at a dead sprint, meeting the Indians training staff at the same time.
Replacement catcher John Hicks and pitcher Buck Farmer paid zero attention to Wolcott.
The key to this incident is in Hicks' response. Catchers and umpires have a kinship because they both wear the gear behind the plate. They are both subject to the bumps and bruises of foul balls and other minor injuries throughout the course of a game. They work together to get strikes called for pitchers. Even though they're not on the same "team," per se, they are on the same team. When one goes down, the other tends to him.
So when Hicks immediately ignored Wolcott, that told you all you needed to know.
No postgame comments from anyone on the Tigers could sway the opinion otherwise. Following the incident with the Yankees earlier in the year, it was pretty clear that the 2017 Detroit Tigers were no longer playing for their late owner: they were in a selfish free fall that can best be described as unfortunate.