In an interview in Sunday’s New York Times, Major League Baseball vice president Joe Torre came down hard on current on-field behavior across the game. In doing so, he sees players more at fault than umpires.
“Players have really gone over the line a lot in their behavior,” Torre said in a telephone interview. “The relationship is obviously not going to get better unless players understand that with the privilege of playing the game, there’s a certain amount of respect you have to play with.”
Among a group of examples cited, the former manager of the Cardinals, Braves, Mets, Yankees and Dodgers called out St. Louis catcher Yadier Molina. Torre suspended the Cardinal backstop for five games for bumping and spitting on umpire Rob Drake last weekend. Molina served his second game out on Saturday night and will be eligible to return next Wednesday.
“What happened the other day is certainly unacceptable, with Yadier Molina,” Torre said. “To me, that’s a sign of disrespect. And I recognize the passion in the game. But you have to understand we’re all part of this thing, and we just can’t have that take place.”
In his short time as head of all of MLB’s on-field affairs, Torre has increased his knowledge of and appreciation for the job umpires do in trying to keep peace.
“A lot of it is common sense, and a feel for how the game is going,” Torre said. “They’ve done a much better job keeping players in the game and warning people at the right time. I’m sure a big part of that is they’re letting the game play out a little bit better.”
Recognizing that fines and suspensions aren’t the answer, Torre wants to bring the two groups together to try to solve the problem.
“We certainly have to find a way to make the relationship better, and you can’t legislate that,” Torre said. “You have to find a way to gather these people and have a meaningful understanding, and the only way to do that is to be able to talk about it. I’m hoping to put something in motion, and we’re getting closer to it.”
In the Times article, no mention was made of any concern over showboating umpires or ones that have demonstrated a high level of inconsistency.
In the first inning of Saturday night’s game, the Cardinals were the beneficiary of a blown call that enabled them to score what would become their only and winning runs. A catch by Florida right fielder Mike Stanton of a sinking liner off the bat of Rafael Furcal was ruled a trap – even after all four umpires conferred. Albert Pujols soon followed with a two-run home run in what would be a 2-1 St. Louis victory.
Marlins manager Jack McKeon, understandably upset over what became a game-changing mistake, spoke out about what he perceives to be a double standard regarding umpiring:
“We get kicked out of the game,” McKeon told the Palm Beach Post. “The players perform poorly they’re sent out. But there are no consequences if they continue to make bad calls.”
Footnote: Drake tossed Alex Gordon and manager Ned Yost of Kansas City on Sunday. Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports felt the ejections were unnecessary.
Earlier article: “Ejections rise with temperatures“.