There are times when a sport has to question what its governing principals are. There are often rule changes to protect the health of players. There have been changes to make certain sports more entertaining or fairer. The NFL is going through major changes at the moment to make the league safer. In general, football has changed a lot over the years. They introduced the forward pass; they went from leather helmets without facemasks to padded plastic helmets with mental facemasks.
Baseball, on the other hand, hasn’t changed all that much throughout the years. It’s still a simple game of throwing, hitting, and catching with a lot of nuisance in between. But a question has arisen recently that might change a few aspects about the game that don’t actually have to do with baseball.
Keller Throws At Robinson
There was a recent almost-brawl between the Chicago White Sox and the Kansas City Royals that was the result of a batter hit by a pitch. Tim Robinson was hit in the backside by Royals pitcher Brad Keller. It was clear to the White Sox that this was intentional. Of course, the Royals all say that the pitch merely got away from Keller.
To the White Sox credit, there is a case to be made that hitting Robinson was intentional. Robinson has homered eight times against the Royals in his career. That’s more than against any other team for the young hitter. So Robinson is known to the Royals as someone to watch out for. The next piece of the puzzle is that Robinson is a bit of a showman. He likes to enjoy his homeruns and sometimes celebrates with a fist pump or a slow walk towards first base.
But this isn’t out of the ordinary. Players often do some kind of celebration when they hit one out. But that doesn’t mean it’s looked upon kindly by opposing teams. It’s possible that the Royals and Keller thought Robinson was disrespecting them.
Whether Robinson was showing disrespect or not and whether Keller intentionally hit Robinson or not, the consequences of these events were rather out of proportion. When Robinson was hit, he took a couple of steps towards the pitcher’s mound. The Royals’ catcher immediately ran out and got between Robinson and his pitcher. Jose Abreu saw this happening and he raced out of the dugout, followed by some of his White Sox teammates. In a matter of seconds, both dugouts were cleared and there was a mess on the field.
But for all the theatrics, there wasn’t any actual fighting. And Robinson and Keller didn’t even get into it with each other. And yet, both were ejected from the game. Both head coaches were also ejected. The head umpire in the game was Joe West, who’s notorious for ejecting players and coaches. He’s racked up an impressive 183 rejections since his debut in the 1970’s.
Too Many Ejections
It could be argued that three of the four ejections were done rightfully so. Both coaches were screaming at each other on the field. That’s uncalled for behavior. And Keller threw a pitch that was almost certainly aimed at hitting Robinson. That’s a dangerous thing to do. But all Robinson did was celebrate after a few home runs, get hit by a pitch, and take a couple steps towards the pitcher’s mound.
It’s reasonable that after getting hit by a 90+ mile and hour fastball, you might be a little angry. But Robinson didn’t charge the mound or get into it with the Royals’ catcher. So in this case it seems that Joe West was a little bit ejection-happy.
Going forward the MLB needs to have better guidelines for what qualifies for an ejection. The White Sox went on to lose the game. And missing their red-hot hitter, Tim Robinson, had something to do with it.