Well, this takes the pace of play rules to new heights. Umpire Marvin Hudson ejected Washington Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper in the third inning of Wednesday night’s game against the New York Yankees, apparently for not getting back in the batter’s box quickly enough. Watch the video:
And now listen to what Harper and manager Matt Williams, who was also ejected, had to say about it:
Here’s the long version of Harper talking about getting ejected by Marvin Hudson. pic.twitter.com/vki9omxWo1
— Andrew Simon (@AndrewSimonMLB) May 21, 2015
Wow. It’s hard to dispute anything that either Harper or Williams had to say. Based on the video evidence, things happened exactly as Harper said they happened. But in the interest of fairness, let’s hear what Hudson had to say about why he ejected the Nationals’ best player and their manager:
Harper stepped out of the batter’s box when Hudson, in his 18th season as a Major League umpire, took off his mask to argue with Williams in the dugout. Hudson then ejected Harper for not getting back into the box quickly enough and for gently pointing out that he never would have left the box if not for the grown-ups and their argument.
Rule 9.01(d) of the Major League rulebook says:
Each umpire has authority to disqualify any player, coach, manager or substitute for objecting to decisions or for unsportsmanlike conduct or language, and to eject such disqualified person from the playing field. If an umpire disqualifies a player while a play is in progress, the disqualification shall not take effect until no further action is possible in that play.
Is that definition broad enough to eject a player for stepping out of the batter’s box and being a little bit sarcastic about it? I sure don’t read it that way.
If I am giving Hudson the benefit of the doubt, perhaps he thought that Harper’s “this is where I was standing” gesture was actually a “this is where that pitch was that you called a strike” gesture. Players have been ejected countless times for showing up an umpire in that way, and maybe that’s what prompted the hair-trigger ejection.
The problem is, we will never know, because umpires have no accountability. Hudson may or may not be disciplined for his #umpshow, but if he is it will be a Top Secret Punishment, because MLB and the Major League Umpires Association keep those things hush-hush.
Ultimately, Harper’s ejection did not cost the Nationals the game, which they won 3-2. And in a perfect world, we probably wouldn’t be more upset when the best player in the league gets ejected than if the same thing had happened to Joaquin Arias. But we don’t live in a perfect world, and the fact is that the best player in the league got ejected early in a big interleague game by an umpire whose skin is far thinner than an 18-year veteran’s should be.