Bill Plaschke: Why does MLB allow arguments with umpires?
In the eternal conflict between baseball’s uniformed personnel and umpires, it’s the dog-you days of summer.
The temperatures soar, the season drags, and everyone wants a piece of each other.
Managers charge umpires. Players scream at umpires. Entire teams physically restrain star players who are literally attempting to attack umpires, which, by the way, looks especially dumb. It’s so bad, the other day I saw Boston Manager Terry Francona arguing with an umpire who had just made a home-run call after examining instant replay.
Baseball officials continually say they want everyone to make nice, and this week they suspended the St. Louis Cardinals’ Yadier Molina for five games for bumping and spitting on umpire Rob Drake, but it's another lukewarm answer that raises an obvious question.
Why does baseball continue to let its uniformed personnel argue with umpires in the first place? Why is this the only sport where these childish rebellions against authority are not only accepted, but condoned and sometimes even celebrated?
Can you imagine the NBA allowing its players to leave the bench to jump in the face of a referee? Not quite. If an NBA player even takes one step off that bench to support a teammate in a fight, he is immediately suspended.
Can you imagine the NFL allowing its coaches to run across the field to scream at a referee? Not exactly. So many flags would be flying, his team would be penalized into next week.
Yet, using culture and history as an excuse for boorishness, baseball nightly allows its participants to publicly challenge, embarrass and even threaten umpires over calls that are never changed anyway. The better the fight, the bigger the cheers, and, hey, if you spend a lifetime attempting such intimidation and humiliation, you will become a legend. Just ask Earl Weaver.
These arguments are all wrong. They undermine the umpire’s authority. They cheapen the game’s integrity. Baseball needs to pass a rule in which public and prolonged challenges to an umpire’s decision -- any decision, all decisions -- will result in immediate ejection.
In other news, baseball is currently examining a recent charge by Detroit Tigers’ Manager Jim Leyland that today’s umpires have become overly confrontational.
-- Bill Plaschke
Photo: Yadier Molina is restrained by Cardinals teammate Daniel Descalso as he argues with umpire Rob Drake on Tuesday. Credit: Morry Gash / Associated Press