Today the Rays begin a three-game series with the Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium. Their recent series with the White Sox has not been forgotten but it’s firmly in the past as what’s done is done and they move on to face a different opponent. For David Price, however, he doesn’t have the luxury of getting into another game and letting the past fade away. Today marks just his second day of rest after starting on Sunday, and it isn’t until Friday night that he will start again. Price wants to just forget about what happened at the end of his start versus the White Sox, but for the next few days, he will have plenty of time to think about it.
No matter what umpire Tom Hallion actually said, whether he uttered a profanity or not, it was the fact that he approached Price in the first place that represented the major issue. Price seemed exceedingly annoyed as he walked off the field, but even Hallion himself admitted that Price didn’t say anything to him. So why did he feel the need to say something to him as he walked off the field?
“He might not have said anything but he certainly gave enough body language to insinuate that he was pissed off.”
Pissed off–not the most family-friendly phrase, but nothing so terrible. It’s something that we all feel quite often, and often it’s at no one but ourselves for failing to do something successfully. When we feel that way, sometimes we say things that we later regret, taking out our frustration on others. Did David Price do that? Absolutely not. No matter who was upset at, whether it was himself or Hallion, he just let it out by muttering to himself as he walked off the field. Everyone has tough breaks, and Price lost himself for a second in the face of that but was ready to forget it, go on his life, and simply be thankful that the call didn’t cost him in the end. Then right at that moment, though, Hallion approached him and exacerbated a situation that was just moments away from being a non-story.
Insinuate. Are you kidding me? Have we decided to start punishing people for their thoughts and not their actions? It’s obvious that Price was thinking something like “I can’t believe he didn’t give me that call,” but Price didn’t even look at Hallion, staring at the ground as he walked off the field. Hallion took a major leap of faith thinking that not only was Price ticked off but also harbored enough animosity towards him for what happened to possibly act on it. Hallion made an assumption and was completely out of line for making it. An umpire job is to react. He sees the pitch and decides whether to call it a ball or a strike and sees a play at first and decides between “safe” and “out.” They are the authority, but more of a passive one than an active one, and that’s the way it should be. They’re unbiased judges officiating the game, and their job is to throw everything irrelevant out the window while judging only what pertains to the game itself. When they become an active authority and insert their ego into the equation, that’s when the problem arises. Tom Hallion wasn’t performing his job as an umpire as he approached David Price as Price walked off the field–he was defending his ego.
This is a strength in passivity, in refusing to compromise on ideals even as pressure mounts against you. In terms of salary figures, the umpires make nothing compared to the players–but by maintaining their unbiased perspective, they create an atmosphere of mutual respect where the players can simply play the game of baseball and not worry about anything else. When an umpire confronts a player except in the most extreme of circumstances, he is undermining that atmosphere and encouraging the players to treat him like the nothing he truly is compared to them. Umpires, judge the game, not the players. Don’t make decisions based on what was implied but by what happened. And most of all, when you make a call, whether it be right or wrong, stand by it and enforce out but don’t think that players don’t have the right to react in a reasonable, human way.