Another Cardinals game, another weird thing happening. Here it is:
Home plate umpire Will Little ejected Matt Carpenter from Tuesday night’s game. Let’s break it down. Here is How to Eject a Team’s Best Hitter From an Important Game During a Playoff Chase, in Five Easy Steps:
Step 1: Make a terrible, no good, very bad call
At risk of sounding like a bitter homer, Will Little’s call was trash. Umpiring is hard, yes. That ball was framed well, which makes it more difficult. But this pitch is called a strike only 4% of the time.
matt carpenter was called out on a pitch that looked about 8 feet outside, then got tossed by the umpire who made the worst strike call I've seen all year— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) September 26, 2018
Step 2: Make sure your bad call results in striking the hitter out
Matt Carpenter had worked a 2-2 count to this point. The game was tight: the Cardinals were down but three in the seventh inning, but had no one out and one one. It was a key spot. That is the time to make a bad call.
Step 3: Let him chat with you about it face-to-face
He is going to be angry after he gets rung-up. Let him pump himself up by arguing a little.
Step 4: Throw him out as he is walking away
Now is the moment to shine. Matt Carpenter is furious, but he knows he walks on dangerous ground. Let us review the rules.
Unsportsmanlike conduct is addressed in section six, subsection four of the Major League Baseball Official Rules. Here the part relevant to this discussion:
(a) No manager, player, substitute, coach, trainer or batboy shall at any time, whether from the bench, the coach’s box or on the playing field, or elsewhere:
... (2) Use language which will in any manner refer to or reflect upon opposing players, an umpire, or any spectator;
...PENALTY: The offender shall be removed from the game and shall leave the playing field, and, if a balk is made, it shall be nullified
This is left intentionally vague so as to be up to the discretion of the umpire. To maximize the frustration, the best way to throw out a team’s best hitter is to toss him when the situation is deescalating, when he least expects it.
Step 5: Throw out the manager for good measure
The manager is not going to allow you to not throw him out at this point. This is just a gimme.
See those fans? Hear them? They are clapping for you. Take a moment to enjoy it.
On a more serious note, Matt Carpenter is not completely innocent here. Was that call terrible? Absolutely. Was the umpire a little quick on the draw? Perhaps. But this is an important game in the middle of playoff race. He cannot get thrown out there. He just cannot.
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