Skip to content


August 11, 2009

Over the weekend, perhaps the two biggest stars in the game, Alex Rodriguez and Albert Pujols, were hit by pitches. In neither case does it seem that the pitcher was actually throwing at the batter. On Saturday, Jim Joyce ejected Ramon Ramirez for hitting Rodriguez with one out and a runner on base in a 2-0 game, in the seventh inning. A warning had been issued in the first inning, but it seems extremely unlikely that Ramirez was throwing at A-Rod. I have a certain sympathy for Joyce in this situation, in that any Yankees-Red Sox game is a powderkeg and he was most likely trying to keep anything from starting. But it seems clear there was no intent here, and Ramirez was unfairly tossed. Not that it mattered; the Red Sox wouldn’t have scored if the game had gone twenty innings.

On Sunday, it happened again; Pirates closer Matt Capps, who had just blown a 3-2 eighth-inning lead by giving up a two-run homer, hit Pujols, and was ejected by Mike Estabrook. Tony LaRussa thinks that Capps was throwing at Pujols, but I generally ignore anything LaRussa has to say, and Pujols in his turn (though he stared out at the mound) said he didn’t think Capps was throwing at him. (Capps, of course, denied it, but that’s meaningless.)

I think in both cases the umpires overreacted, but were overreacting in a situation where it’s understandable, because things could get out of hand. I should point out that in both cases the HBP (and maybe the ejection) cost the pitcher’s team. Rodriguez scored on a bases-loaded walk, giving the Yankees a 3-0 lead that might as well have been 30-0. Pujols scored in front of a Ludwick double as the Cards broke the game open. There’s already a cost to hitting a batter, and it’s why you generally aren’t going to throw at anyone in a close game. It’s in the blowouts that the umpires need to be cautious.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. Steve permalink
    August 11, 2009 3:38 pm

    I am wondering if this is really an instance where the umpires have the discretion we generally assume they have. I think MLB shares much of the blame for situations like these two with their high-handed and inconsistent punishments related to pitching high and tight or hitting guys; and there most certainly have been edicts to umpires to toss guys when there is any doubt at all in a misguided attempt to “control” that which is not controllable.

  2. Stu permalink
    August 11, 2009 6:16 pm

    *Matt* Capps, Mac.

  3. August 11, 2009 6:36 pm

    Oooooops. Chris Capps was a bad Alabama offensive tackle of a few years ago. I called him “turnstile”. Watching your quarterback get constantly pummelled by defensive ends sticks in your mind, I guess.

  4. mikemc permalink
    August 11, 2009 7:56 pm

    August 10 game Dodgers-Giants. Hohn tosses Bochy after 2 missed calls, See SF Chronicle for story.

  5. Grst permalink
    August 12, 2009 12:47 am

    I agree with Steve. I don’t like these ejections for HBP’s, but I think it’s coming from the top. It’s not just the ejections, it’s also the fines and suspensions, etc.

    The sad thing is it’s all unnecessary. The players can police themselves, especially in the national league where pitchers (rightly) have to take their turn in the firing zone.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: