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Another Umpire Runs Afoul of Major League Baseball

Jun 1, 2010 – 4:55 PM
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Josh Alper

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Another day, another story about an umpire finding himself in hot water with the league office for the way he conducts himself on the field. And it isn't even Joe West this time!

Bill Hohn ejected Astros starter Roy Oswalt from Monday's game after Oswalt expressed displeasure with the way he was calling balls and strikes. At this point, you'll probably say to yourself that getting in an umpire's face and disputing he knows the strike zone is always grounds for ejection but take a look at the video and see the way things unfolded.

Oswalt is clearly upset with Hohn's call, but he turns away from home plate and says something while facing the first-base line. He doesn't yell at Hohn or even in Hohn's direction. The umpire then takes it upon himself to leave the plate and confront Oswalt who most lip readers will agree is saying something along the lines of "I wasn't talking to you." No matter, because Hohn ejects him anyway.

That's going to earn him a phone call from Mike Port, MLB's vice president in charge of umpires. Bob Watson, who is in charge of all discipline for the league, told a Houston radio station that Hohn can expect a stern talking to from Port while Oswalt shouldn't expect any further discipline.

If umpires want their decisions about whether pitches are balls and strikes to be absolute, they have to be thick-skinned enough to take a little disagreement from time to time. When that disagreement is as non-confrontational as Oswalt's, it has to be ignored or else it will be impossible to feel that the umps are being anything other than defensive, something that should be impossible when you are doing your job the right way.

Beyond that, it is good to see MLB finally stepping in and doing something about the adversarial nature of some umpires. West's fine last week for escalating the situation with Mark Buehrle was the right move and whatever punishment they dole out for Hohn, who invented a fight out of thin air, is totally deserved. These are the men who are supposed to be imposing order on the field, but they are far too often the people creating conflict.
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