Chicago White Sox broadcaster Hawk Harrelson has done it again, going on another umpiring tirade Wednesday, only this time his target was umpire Mark Wegner, not Harrelson's favorite vociferation victim, Joe West.
At slightly under two minutes in length, Harrelson's defamation of West in 2010 stemmed from ejections—one of manager Ozzie Guillen and the other of pitcher Mark Buehrle—following two balk calls against the White Sox. Even though both calls were confirmed as correct by the Umpire Ejection Fantasy League, the Hawk never has let a little thing like accuracy impede his diatribes against umpires.
Such was the case Wednesday, when plate umpire Wegner immediately ejected Sox pitcher Jose Quintana after his first-pitch fastball passed several feet behind Tampa Bay Rays right fielder Ben Zobrist, whose sheepish grin seemed to suggest he knew he was about to become a bean-ball target.
Chicago catcher A.J. Pierzynski had been plunked earlier in the contest in response to a questionable and dangerous spikes-up slide he had made the previous day, and in Wegner's opinion, Quintana's pitch behind Zobrist was clearly retaliation, which is punishable by warning or immediate ejection per MLB rule 8.02(d).
This isn't the first story of retaliatory action that has spanned multiple games in baseball, and it will hardly be the last. In September 2011, Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw was ejected by umpire Bill Welke for intentionally throwing at Gerardo Parra in a 2-0 ballgame. Even when plunking a batter brings the tying run to the plate, emotions can trump logic when pitchers throw at batters.
That was the case on Saturday, May 26, when Blue Jays pitcher Henderson Alvarez was ejected for throwing at Rangers batter Ian Kinsler in a one-run game. Prior to the Kinsler at bat, sluggers Nelson Cruz, Yorvit Torrealba and Mitch Moreland had combined to hit back-to-back-to-back home runs.
Even though the rules clearly prescribe penalties for intentionally pitching at a batter, almost every ejection under rule 8.02(d) is bound to upset or surprise at least 50 percent of viewers.
So while Wegner saw a pitcher intentionally throwing at a batter—as did the Rays broadcast team—Harrelson quickly made it obvious that he disagreed:
Oh, what are you doin'? He threw him out of the ball game? You've got to be bleepin' me! What in the hell are you doing? What are you doing Wegner? You've gotta be kidding me! That is so bad that is absolutely brutal! That is unbelievable! I'll tell ya what, they have got to start making guys be accountable, that is totally absurd. That just tells you [that] here's an umpire in the American League that knows nothing about the game of baseball.
Harrelson then angrily cut to commercial as the White Sox completed a pitching change, but Harrelson didn't let a little TV timeout stop him from continuing his scathing philippic when the broadcast returned:
This guy behind the plate, Mark Wegner, has just made one of the worst calls in—I’ve been part of this game in all of part of 7 decades, 53 years, that is one of the worst calls I have ever seen in my whole career. He has no clue what this game is about. Wegner has no clue. He has no clue. None. Zero. We have seen him make not that bad of a call, but we’ve seen him make some terrible calls in the past...Incompetence like that, that’s sickening. It is an embarrassment to the game of baseball. It is an embarrassment to the profession of umpiring. I guarantee that is an embarrassment to Mike Winters, the crew chief.
More than an inning later, Harrelson was still upset, calling for the immediate suspension of Wegner, which is exactly what he did when he spouted off about West back in 2010. Harrelson also demanded MLB revoke Wegner's postseason umpiring privileges.
Don't worry, Hawk. I'm sure that umpires are hoping for the exact same discipline to befall you.
Gil Imber is Bleacher Report's Rules Featured Columnist and owner of Close Call Sports, a website dedicated to the objective and fair analysis of close or controversial calls in sports.