Nationals Baseball: Zaprudering the Ejection

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Zaprudering the Ejection


OK so here goes. Bryce takes a pitch low that gets called a strike. Bad call. 


Bryce chirps at the ump about it (by his own admittance he said he did this).


Then he steps well out of the batters box. Definitely showing displeasure here. 
 

Ump says get back in. Bryce gets back in. It appears ump is chirping back at Bryce at this time. Probably along the lines of "don't you argue with me or step out of the box again, rook!" because baseball and manliness. But Bryce is in and pitcher is getting set looks like the storm has passed until...


Ump takes off mask to argue with bench. Williams made it seem like this came out of nowhere but come on, when have you ever seen that? An ump just deciding mid at bat to yell at a relatively quiet bench? Williams surely was chirping at ump at this point (bad move) and the ump decided not to just let it go (bad move)


Seeing the Ump out of the box,  Bryce steps out of the box. Way out of the box. If you are generous to Bryce you could just say he's stepping out to a logical stopping point (the grass), but it seems more likely he's trying to insinuate himself in the conversation by stepping kind of between ump and bench. This becomes apparent when...
 

Bryce points to place he says he was standing. The ump was still facing the same direction at this point so it appears he was still arguing with Williams and Bryce was reacting to something said. Most likely it was "He was outta the box!" "He was in the box!" "He was outta the box!" Bryce is saying "Hey no, I was right there."  


The ump now faces Bryce and they twice have the same discussion with both the ump and Bryce pointing toward the box. Finally Bryce comes over and with his foot shows the ump where he was standings and the ump runs him.

There's a lot you can say against the ump and manager. The ump didn't have to keep chirping at Bryce to begin with, or engage Williams, or engage Bryce. Williams didn't have to insert himself into this. But I kind of see both of those. The ump chirping is typical baseball just like Bryce's first chirping. It happens you have a back and forth and then the bat goes on. Williams interjects because he's looking especially at watching Bryce's back. The ump goes after the bench because he was just telling the player not to do this and now the bench is doing this. He argues with Bryce because at this point what the hell is going on.

I'm very confused at Bryce's actions. Not the initial chirping. Like I said that's very typical. If the ump were to eject players every time that happened you'd lose a handful a game. Bryce was just letting off steam like ball players do. But why did he feel the need to interject himself into the bench vs ump argument? And even more strange why was he so adamant he was in the box when he was so clearly wasn't? Even in the post-game while the ump and Williams both implied Bryce was out of the box after that strike, Bryce implies he never did step out. But he did. I don't get the sense he's purposely lying. I kind of think he really did think he had a foot in the box the entire time. But he so clearly didn't that the ump felt like this kid was mocking him or something.

I don't know. As a twitter follower of mine (Steven Maguire) said it's a shame that because not one of three guys could cool it that Bryce had to be thrown out.

31 comments:

SM said...

The vitriol was like the magic bullet. It went through three guys and lay there, perfectly intact, right up to today.

Harper said...

I saw a puff of smoke from the Red Porch.

Chaz R said...

Yeah, I think Bryce was pissed the ump was telling him to get into the box while the ump was walking and jawing with MW. If the ump wanted Bryce in the box, I think the ump should have gotten behind the plate and put his mask on.

Bote Man said...

A poster (bunyon, in comment 6) of the Baseball Think Factory thread on this topic reported that Harold Reynolds noted the change in umpires as a result of Questec. Before they were rated they would adjust their strike zone based on the chirping from either hitters or pitchers.

Now they rigidly hold to their strike zones to avoid getting bad Questec ratings so arguing balls and strikes is a powder keg just waiting to happen.

Post-game comments from Bryce indicated that this was over him stepping away from the batter's box more than a balls/strikes dispute, so who knows?

All I know is that the umpires should never lose their cool. Their authority comes from being calm and assertive; when they lose that they have nothing, they're just another yammering hot-head and we already have enough of those on the field and in the dugouts.

Kenny B. said...

The plus side of this is that each time Bryce is ejected, MW has gotten ejected with him, so complaints that MW has some kind of disdain for Harper seem unfounded.

Anyway, the whole thing was ridiculous. What would the bench have said that would warrant stopping the at bat, taking off the mask, getting out from behind the plate, and having a protracted shouting match? I mean the call was a bad one, but it wasn't that egregious, and I don't believe anyone in there would have made *that* big a deal out of it.

Also, if you watch the feed, there's a great shot of Zimmerman in the background with his arms up like, "what the hell just happened here?"

Obviously Bryce has a target on his back because he's young and awesome. But he seems to me like a pretty down-to-earth guy who takes his job and his role seriously, and I wonder why so many have developed this narrative that he's arrogant or cocky.

Harper said...

Chaz R - I think there was confusion post-game. I think the ejection was about the argument than ensued about Bryce being out of the box directly after the strike call but all the post-game questions were about Bryce being out of the box after the ump took off his mask. So there's some decoding of answers to do.

Bote Man - Questec has taken gamesmanship out of the game.

Harper said...

KB - I don't disagree. The turning point was the bench/ump interaction. Neither had to react.

Even watching this I don't see Bryce as cocky. the arguing at first was standard and the later argument I just get a vibe that that was what Bryce believed. Why are you saying I was out of the box when I was in the box?

Froggy said...

Umps job is to call balls and strikes and make calls on balls in play. After the back and forth chirping between Donkey and Bryce, Bryce composed himself and waited for the next pitch. That should have been the end of it except your Zapruder film has no sound where one would have heard Donkey aka Captain Obvious telling Bryce to get in the box, which he already was. Leading to MW defending his player by calling out Captain Obvious aka Donkey who proceeded to call a defacto 'time out' by taking his mask off and engaging Williams.

At this point Donkey is wrong and proper baseball decorum would be to finish with Williams and then put his mask back on and point to the plate / batters box and resume play.

Bryce might be a hothead but at worst he committed a borderline fineable infraction not a tossable one. The league should make Donkey apologize for losing control of the game.

Harper said...

Froggy - Kind of doubt the ump was saying "get in the box" when Bryce was in the box. More likely he was saying "when I say get in the box, do it" or "Don't get out of the box" or something along those lines.

I don't disagree with anything else but you do leave out the fact that while arguing with Williams (potentially to the conclusion you point out) Bryce added himself to the conversation. Not adversarily or argumentatively but still he did it?

I get why the ump and MW did what they did. I don't really agree with either but I get it. I don't get why Bryce did what he did in the 2nd half of this situation. Like I just don't understand and would like to.

Anonymous said...

That was a clown ejection bro.

Rob Evans said...

I don't know what needs to change, but I'm tired of cowboy Umps like Joe West and I'm tired of Bryce getting tossed. Like he said, 40K don't come to see Umps do their jobs.

cass said...

My take is that Bryce got ejected for Matt Williams' arguing with the ump. The umpire wanted to send Matt Williams a message and ejecting him would not have been as severe a punishment as ejecting Bryce. Sort of how when a team retaliates for a hit-by-pitch, they throw at the best player, not the pitcher himself. The umpire felt insecure about his authority so he felt the need to eject Matt's best player.

Froggy said...

Point is the ump lost control period on multiple counts. He obviously knew he missed the call on the pitch and didn't like it when Bryce objected. Kind of like when you do something stupid and you know it was wrong your wife calls you a dumbass for A) doing something stupid, and B) acting like a Neanderthal by denying it on top of it.

All you have to do is look at the expression on Jim Joyce's face to know the ump was wrong.

Anyway, there is that whole history thing when he ejected Davey Johnson during the Atlanta game a few years back. Too bad replay wasn't around as that call led to the Nats losing the game...but I regress.

Froggy said...

...I mean I digress...

Eric said...

"Captain Obvious aka Donkey who proceeded to call a defacto 'time out' by taking his mask off and engaging Williams."

Actually, I'm 90% certain he stands up, audibly calls "time!" and then takes his mask off and steps out from behind the catcher.

Check it:
http://m.mlb.com/video/v123478083/nyywsh-harper-williams-get-ejected-in-the-3rd

Also, check out the action starting at around 1:20 in that clip.

You can’t see Williams' feet too well, but I'm pretty sure he's clearing dirt OFF the plate, rather than kicking it ON the plate. Then, he goes and points at the ump’s box.

The story in my mind is that he clears the plate to "help" Hudson see the zone better, then points to the ump’s box and says to Hudson, “now GET BACK IN THE BOX!"

a m s said...

Regardless of the umps Bryce would be wise to watch Werth's plate demeanor. Werth gets a lot of favorable calls and handles like Michael Jordan would.

If you want to make an ass out of an ump, you're going to get less production and more frustration.

And suspend that clown ump for stupidity.

Jeden said...

Pretty wild looking at Hudson's ejection history:

http://www.retrosheet.org/boxesetc/H/Phudsm901.htm

Including last night's ejections of Harper and Williams, he's ejected 10 players/managers from the Nationals. Since 2005, that makes up 34% of his total ejections during that timeframe (next closest team is TOR with 3, one of which was Yunel).

Not crying conspiracy or anything as the numbers are padded due to HBP, Manager ejections and brawls, but still a crazy stat.

Does he just happen to call more Nationals games than others? How do Umpire crews rotate throughout the league, or is it pretty standard to stay in a geographical area?

Froggy said...

@Eric - good catch on Hudson calling time. It reinforces my point that literally or otherwise time was called requiring the necessary procedure to resume play.

I would love to hear the raw audio between MW and Donkey but in lieu of that I'll go with your 'in your mind' version. LoL!

Eric said...

Yeah, I would LOVE to hear unedited audio of the entire episode from the moment the low strike hits the mitt until Taylor steps in.

Harper said...

Froggy - yeah but what I'm saying isn't that Bryce was ejected for not getting in the box right then (that's also agrees with what the ump said post-game) he was ejected because he was arguing about being out of the box prior to that - immediately post strike, before getting back in. Bryce knew what he the ump talking about but didn't think he was ever out of the box. The ump thought that was showing him up because he was clearly out of the box. Matt didn't know what they were talking about was arguing with ump more about jawing to Bryce than the box stuff.

JQuest said...

Breaking news -- best hitter on the planet gets tossed for telling ump to keep his panties on.

Eric said...

Here's my rather unprovable theory on what happened:

Harper dislikes the called strike, takes one foot out of the box and comments about it, but leaves his other foot in place. After a second or so, though, Harper seems to almost reluctantly remove his other foot from the box. He was clearly observing the "keep one foot in the box" rule up until that moment. I have a funny feeling that Hudson told him to "get in the box" for the first time while he still had one foot in the box, and that Harper expressed his further disapproval by stepping out fully. I'm thinking it was something like, "that was a little low, wasn't it?"

"No, now get back in the box"

::: steps out of the box :::

Some additional sketchy evidence for this view comes at around 20 seconds. Here, you see Williams for the first time, and you can see him talking. I believe he says "He was in the f****** box. Don't bait him!"

I can't prove any of this, but I really don't think Harper stepping out of the box the first time was part of an ongoing reaction to the called strike.

One thing I'm almost absolutely certain about, though, is that Hudson tossed Harper for looking him directly in the face as he used his foot to indicate where he had been standing.

Froggy said...

Harper - I should have complemented you earlier on the Zapruder metaphor as it is apropos.

I agree with your read on why the ump said he was ejected, and I think we both agree that ejection of Bryce was unwarranted. Regardless, MLB is a franchise organization where everything is controlled to the point of what brand of equipment and or clothes can be worn by players on the field, and their behavior off the field.

It just seems like the umpires feel like they are part of the game as personalities when in actuality they are more akin to chalk lines, foul poles and outfield fences. Some umps get it and others like West and Hudson don't.

TV1026 said...

Ridiculous call and chirping aside, I thought the pace-of-play and one-foot-in-the-box rules were meant to be a guideline more than an actual rule and any offenses would be dealt with by the league. When did it become OK for an umpire to yell at a player "Get in the box!", much less eject him for not complying? Am I missing something?

JE34 said...

Thankfully the percentage of overbearing blowhard umps has gone down a lot since the breaking of their union many years ago. Unfortunately several jerks still remain.

The other major sports have generally maintained better player/official and coach/official relationships than the MLB has. Officials that maintain a dialogue with players and coaches simply manage games better. I love baseball above all other sports, but the one big baseball culture thing I've never quite grasped is how questioning an ump's call is an unacceptable affront to their dignity. There's the sin of "showing up" the ump with some obvious gesticulation - which I guess I can understand to a point, but a umpire's insecurity should not have that big an impact on a game. Here's hoping the league deals with this one.

J. Henry Waugh said...

The bottom line is that at the beginning of the season, the rules committee said that no player would be ejected for stepping outside the box on a first violation--only warned. Bryce was officially thrown out for stepping outside the box. On a first violation. Hudson was more irked about MW interjecting himself into the situation and took it out on Bryce. Ryan Zimmerman's reaction says it all--"What the hell just happened here?" Not to mention most former baseball players and analysts agreeing that there was no way Bryce should have been ejected.

Anonymous said...

When Paul O'Neil, former Yankee and current Yankee broadcaster is questioning the Ump's call and toss of Bryce, and several dozen other professional commentators and former players are also questioning the running, not to mention the look on Joyce's face, it's a bad run and bad day at the office for Hudson.

The fact that Joyce has had to eat major crow after the blown perfect game, (And major kudos to him for standing and taking that deserved media beating post-game) and that you can tell he doesn't like Hudson's call, just further makes the point for MW and Bryce.

MASN had some video with bleeped audio that was shown later in the game, and pretty much MW's argument was telling Hudson the rulebook says he can't run him for the batter box infraction. Then a long string of bleeps gets him tossed.

blovy8 said...

I think the umpire's role as on-field authority is a little different in that they can't apply lesser penalties or fouls to a player - it's pretty much ejection or nothing. So, there's a high level of crap they have to be willing to withstand to not have to go to that extreme, but if they let themselves become punching bags, you have delays while everyone complains and acts like babies instead of getting on with business. This was clearly a quick fuse, but it's why the ball/strike thing is there - it would take forever if you let a guy bitch about every pitch. So, in a sense, it is a pace of play type deal, but Hudson's action made it take LONGER, but once Williams is out of the dugout, the die is cast.

blovy8 said...

From the last post, I'd say the drop in K rate and rise in BB rate for Tyler Moore might hopefully indicate a bit of a progression in his approach perhaps, though, yes, he will always be subject to small sample since those are all he's ever going to get from the Nats. 8.9BB/22.2K would be pretty good rates to hold onto with his power, but he's got a lousy BABIP holding his numbers down if anything. I know his flyball tendencies will keep it low, but not .214 low. Two extra singles and he's at 268/333/537, and then you wouldn't get upset with him getting starts in left. Mostly though, that was just a good matchup for him with Adam Warren since he'd also hit a homer off him previously.

HammerAce said...

This is another example of why the business of calling strikes and balls should be taken away from the hands of the umpires. Let the computer make the call, and there is never a reason to argue about it. Surely a soulless automaton can see the wisdom in that.

Anonymous said...

The dynamic between MW and Harp suggests something like a bromance. You know, like they're in a bar and one of them gets into a heated argument with some burly biker guy and pretty soon everybody's throwing punches. It's not clear who threw what punch when, just that the two dudes have each other's back, they're both swinging. And in the end, like in one of those buddy films, they both get arrested. I like those films, actually.