I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again — fans don’t want to go to Major League Baseball games to watch umpires officiate, period.
The latest instance of an MLB umpire over-flexing his muscle came in the top of the second inning in the Los Angeles Dodgers’ game against the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park. That’s when home plate umpire Angel Campos ejected Matt Kemp for allegedly arguing from the on-deck circle during an Andre Ethier at-bat.
The Dodgers had been warned unofficially by Campos for arguing balls and strikes, but the ejection was clearly unwarranted.
Kemp told ESPN Los Angeles following the game, “Then I said, ‘Let’s go ‘Dre,’ and he tossed me out of the game,” he told reporters. “You’ve got two teams going at it in a pennant race. We’re trying to build the lead against the Giants and Arizona, and I get thrown out for cheering my teammate.”
It’s all too familiar and an unwelcome site for Dodgers fans and baseball fans in general. The fact that we even know Campos’ name is proof in itself that the incident went too far and was unwarranted. For whatever reason, these officials seem to want to make a name for themselves, are overly sensitive, or simply have no clue as to how to take control of a ballgame.
Manager Don Mattingly was equally unimpressed with the decision to eject Kemp.
“This isn’t about being mad,” Mattingly said. “This is something that has to go above me. It needs to go to the league. We’re in a pennant race, and I’ve got a guy who was second in the MVP (voting) last year, and you can’t take him out of the game for cheering for a teammate. If we had gone out of control, that’s different. This is just unacceptable behavior (by Campos).”
There’s just no excuse for taking players out of games for trivial reasons. It’s one of the worst things we see in sports, and it has to stop. The Dodgers are in the thick of a fight for their playoff lives and it’s a shame to see the outcome of such critical games decided by anything other than actual balls, strikes and runs.
Major League Baseball needs to take a look at this and other incidents like it moving forward — not just for the Dodgers’ sake, but for the integrity of the league.
Michael C. Jones is the Editor of Sports Out West. You can follow him on Twitter @MikeJonesTweets.
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