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After the umpires union threw down the gauntlet Tuesday, publicly throwing a fit about the perceived leniency of Manny Machado’s one-game suspension, it’s probably best for them to take Taylor Swift’s advice.
“You need to calm down.”
It started with MLBUA’s wild Twitter post featuring 12(!) hashtags (including some gems like #MakeanExampleof).
They got even more extreme later in the day, dropping a 213-word paragraph of a Facebook rant that may have been copied verbatim from your crazy uncle’s timeline.
“It is NOT okay to throw a temper tantrum and physically touch someone of authority, just because you don’t agree,” they said on Facebook.
That sentence basically confirmed what umpire critics have been arguing for years: the umpires view themselves as some kind of law enforcement officers that command the utmost respect.
We won’t even get into a whole thing about the amazing irony of throwing a temper tantrum to accuse someone else of a temper tantrum, but bashing the league in such a childish manner on social media is a horrible look for the umpires union. If they were hell-bent on making a public thing out of it, why not just be professional and issue a press release?
Cincinnati Reds pitcher Alex Wood tweeted on Tuesday what we were all thinking: “I don’t understand how this tweet is permitted by the Umpires union or @MLB ? There’s a reason players don’t take to social media on a daily basis to bash umpires or call them out. It’s because it is simply not allowed and if a guy does it he gets fined.”
The league agreed with Wood’s sentiment, issuing a statement Tuesday which said “we do not believe it is appropriate for the union representing Major League Umpires to comment on the discipline of players represented by the Players Association, just as it would not be appropriate for the Players Association to comment on disciplinary decisions made with respect to umpires.”
Getting back to the specifics of the case in question, Machado should not have spiked his helmet. He should not have thrown his bat (“VIOLENTLY … against the backstop with absolutely no regard to anyone’s safety” as the union asserted).
Machado certainly lost his cool after a very quick ejection and it’s hard to tell from the video if he actually made chest-to-chest contact with umpire Bill Welke but if he did, it was just a grazing and certainly not intentional.
MLB’s umpires do good work as a whole and that needs to be acknowledged. It’s not an easy job, particularly in this era of high-definition cameras and live strike-zone overlays.
But that’s a separate conversation.
The union’s actions Tuesday were unacceptable, setting a dangerous precedent for future disagreements.
Before getting mad online again, the union should focus on its own shortcomings and make sure that its own members do their part to make the game better for everybody involved.