The decision of now semi-famous umpire Clint Fagan to eject both St. Louis Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina and manager Mike Matheny during Sunday’s third inning has rightfully drawn a lot of attention.
Many believe the young arbiter was completely in the wrong, displaying an incredibly short fuse by almost immediately ejecting the backstop for throwing his helmet after being correctly called out at first base.
Matheny did what he had to do in defending his catcher. Not doing that would risk damaging the support of his players, especially arguably his most valuable one.
Speaking of most valuable, Molina is rightfully being represented as a legitimate National League Most Valuable Player candidate for 2013. His leadership behind the plate with an unexpectedly young staff, his managing the running game and consistent offense all provide strong support for his case.
On Sunday, Molina did not carry himself like an MVP, in my opinion. The 30-year-old explained he was upset at himself for grounding out and ending a two-on, two-out threat with his team down by two runs at the time. Yet, the act of throwing his helmet was more Little League than Major League.
It is not the first time Molina has gotten into hot water with umpires. Molina missed five games due to suspension after inadvertently spitting on umpire Rob Drake during a heated August 2011 argument over balls and strikes.
It surprises me that especially given the importance of the catcher-umpire relationship, that Molina can lose his composure so completely at times with arbiters, even when the umps appear to be wrong.
The Cardinals cannot control the umpires, but they need to be able to control themselves. That is doubly the case for their team leader. Molina needs to learn to step back and let others less important to the outcome of the game argue his points.
It would be impossible to know if this latest incident will cost Molina any MVP votes down the road, but even more importantly, will this cost him any future games due to suspension?
First and foremost, Molina should remember his importance to the Cardinals by doing what it takes to remain on the field. Managing his temper no matter the situation has to become a part of that.