Umpires are becoming increasingly soft, evidenced by Brett Gardner's bat banging ejection

I don’t think I’m alone in my opinion that Brett Gardner banging his bat on dugout roofs (both at the Rogers Centre in Toronto and at Yankee Stadium alike) in protest of bad umpiring, is a display that is nothing short of iconic.  

Photo Credit: New York Post

Yankees Twitter will see and use that GIF for many years to come, and Gardy’s teammates seem to love it, too.

However, “iconic” is not the only adjective that can be used to describe the latest Gardy Party in the dugout.  It is spirited, much like the "Savages" that have stepped up to lead the Yankees to first-place by nine-and-a-half games in the American League East.  It is a sign of just how much passion is on this team, and that is a factor that will set this team apart in the hopes of leading it to World Series #28.  It is a sign of camaraderie -- Gardner smacked the bat, in both instances, when coming to the defense of teammate Cameron Maybin (who appreciated the efforts). 
It also reminds the fans not to count Gardy out, in spite of his age and his less than stellar performance during the 2018 season -- though his recent hot streak leading to the best season of his long career helps that, too.

However, while I may not be alone in my opinion, MLB certainly doesn’t agree with me. After the first bat-whacking incident in Toronto on August 9, it certainly appeared, on August 17, as though umpires were on alert for it. 

“I felt like they were looking in the dugout quite often,” Gardner told the press following the August 17th game, from which he was ejected by umpire Phil Cuzzi.  “I can understand coming over there, maybe telling me to knock it off, you’re making too much noise.  But, to come over, the rabbit ears kind of thing, just constantly looking for something, I thought it was pretty quick.”

It certainly was, especially by comparison, as seen in this humorous take courtesy of Talkin' Yanks' David Mendelsohn.
Which brings me to just how much, I believe, umpire sensitivity has gone too far.  Just 23 years ago, in 1996, umpires issued a warning during an argument between the players on both the New York Mets and the Chicago Cubs, before throwing eight Mets out of a game played on John Franco Day (including Franco himself).  A warning -- what’s that? Aaron Boone did not receive a warning and neither did Brett Gardner. As he said himself,  it was pretty quick.

Let’s get back to the current season, where umpires appear to throw players and managers out of games for saying almost anything they deem to be out of line. We’ve all heard by now, the “Savages in the Box” speech (potentially brought to you by Jomboy’s NSFW play-by play), which probably merited Aaron Boone’s ejection from that game -- especially since arguing balls and strikes is clearly prohibited by MLB.  While that speech was also, well, iconic, it’s a far more understandable ejection.  And yes, Gardner was mistakenly thrown out of the game on August 9th, not for anything to do with his bat -- umpires thought Maybin was arguing the call.  But, where’s the rule against bat banging?

“I didn’t receive any memos saying that was illegal,” Boone told the press.

The ejections didn’t stop with Gardner.  They continued, when Cuzzi threw out CC Sabathia for heckling, when Sabathia was still on the Injured List and was attending the game as a spectator.  I may have to watch what I say the next time I attend a game, I could get thrown out of Yankee Stadium, too.

In conclusion, Boone and the Yankees may have to watch their behavior going forward, but I think all of us fans (or most of us, anyway) hope that these "snowflake" umpires don’t break the Yankees' spirits.  Their savage spirit, above their skills, is what is going to carry them to the postseason and beyond.

Article by: Mary Grace Donaldson


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