Brett Lawrie’s outburst on umpire Bill Miller during Tuesday night’s baseball game leaves a lot of people questioning the relationship between umpires and players in Major League Baseball.
At the end of a close game, Lawrie was at the plate when Fernando Rodney threw a ball that was in fact, a ball — quite obviously to everyone else, except Miller, who called it a strike. That was unbeknownst to Lawrie though, who tossed his bat and started jogging towards first base. A little embarrassed, Miller called a now-confused, and probably a bit angry, Lawrie back to the plate. Rodney threw another ball, and Miller called another strike. But there would be no casual jaunt to first this time for Lawrie. Being the emotional player that he is, he threw his helmet down on the ground, enraged at the last two calls. Unfortunately, the helmet took a weird bounce and ended up hitting Miller. The game continued on and at the end of it all, Lawrie was given a four-game suspension, a suspension that he’s now appealing.
The incident has some questioning the relationship between umpires and players, and wondering what can be to ease tensions between the two. Some even think that the two sides just need to sit down for a good heart-to-heart. But really, is that the answer?
If the many years of sport-playing history have taught us anything, probably not. No, the two groups don’t need to learn about each other’s families or even discuss their seasons. The fact is, nothing at all needs to be done. This was an ugly incident, yes. But the umpires have their union to protect them, and the players have theirs — just like in all other major sports. If there really is an issue, it will be solved between the two.
But there’s likely not going to be a need for such a call to action. There will always be incidents between umps and players, and refs and players. Is it a sign that the league, or the sport, is crumbling? Just the opposite, in fact. These rare occurrences, whether between umps and players, or players of opposing teams, are just one more reason why we love to watch the game.