MLB Umpires Drop Wristband Protest, Agree to Meet with Rob Manfred

Tyler Conway@jtylerconwayFeatured ColumnistAugust 20, 2017

Home plate umpire Tim Timmons (left) signals while Chicago White Sox catcher Kevan Smith, right, adjusts his mask during the first inning of a baseball game against the Chicago White Sox, Saturday Aug. 19, 2017, in Arlington, Texas. Umpires wore white wristbands during games Saturday, protesting
Roger Steinman/Associated Press

Major League Baseball umpires have agreed to end their white wristband protest after MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred agreed to a meeting to address their concerns.

"Today, WUA members agreed to the Commissioner’s proposal to meet with the Union’s Governing Board to discuss the concerns on which our white wristband protest is based," the umpires said in a statement. "We appreciate the Commissioner's willingness to engage seriously on verbal attacks and other important issues that must be addressed. To demonstrate our good faith, MLB Umpires will remove the protest white wristbands pending the requested meeting."

Umpires began their protest Saturday, wearing white wristbands as a sign of solidarity over what they feel is unfair treatment from players. The issue most bothersome to the umpires was MLB's decision to fine but not suspend Detroit Tigers second baseman Ian Kinsler, who made critical comments about umpire Angel Hernandez.

"The Office of the Commissioner has failed to address this and other escalating attacks on umpires," the umpires said in a statement Saturday. "The player who denigrated Hernandez publicly said he thought he would be suspended. Instead [he] got far more lenient treatment—a fine. He shrugged that off and told reporters he has 'no regrets' about his offensive statements calling for an end to Hernandez's career.

"The Office of the Commissioner's lenient treatment to abusive player behavior sends the wrong message to players and managers. It's 'open season' on umpires, and that's bad for the game."

Kinsler said he was unaffected by the umpires' decision to wear the wristbands.

"I really don't think too deeply into it," Kinsler told reporters. "I hope they wear the white wristbands for the rest of their careers. I don't care. I said what I felt and what I thought. If they take offense to that, that's their problem."

Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said Kinsler's fine was the largest he has ever seen for a player. Ausmus spent 18 seasons in MLB as a player and has been the Tigers' manager since 2014.

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