The pitch was perfectly on the outside corner for strike three–or so David Price thought. Home plate umpire Tom Hallion called Price’s 94 MPH fastball placed squarely on the outside edge of the plate ball two and Price was infuriated. He bore down and forced DeWayne Wise to ground out back to the mound to end the inning, but as he walked off the field, he couldn’t help but let some of his frustration out, mumbling to himself about the ball two call. What happened next is the subject of much debate.
Home plate umpire Tom Hallion approached Price–Price was not addressing anyone in particular as he muttered, staring at the ground–and Hallion said something to him. Whatever Hallion’s comments were, they only incensed Price even more, leading to a brief exchange between the two before Price’s burst of anger continued to bubble over as he walked into the clubhouse. Before we knew it, Hallion ejected someone from the Rays dugout, evidently Jeremy Hellickson. Following the game, Price and Hallion each explained what happened, and their portrayal of the events were very similar–with one key difference.
Hallion did not deny that Price said nothing to him to prompt Hallion approaching him, instead saying “He might not have said anything but he certainly gave enough body language to insinuate that he was pissed off.” The bigger point of contention, though, is what exactly Hallion said to Price. Both said that Hallion told him to “throw the ball over the plate.” Price maintained, however, that Halion inserted a profanity into that statement, and that set Price off.
"“I don’t know what he thinks he heard, you can ask anybody that was sitting in the dugout and they all erupted as they should have when you hear an umpire speak to a player that way,” Price said. “Something has to be done about that, and that’s why I told you guys (the media).“That’s terrible. If my own dad doesn’t speak to me that way, some frickin’ umpire’s not going to speak to me that way.”"
Price also used the fact that Hellickson, who he described as the “most quiet guy in baseball” was mad enough to scream out and get ejected, to prove that Hallion definitely said something out of line. Hallion, though, steadfastly denied the accusations, calling Price a “liar.” That just caused Price and the Rays to take to Twitter to let out their anger at what had transpired.
"There’s only one person lying about all this and his name starts with a T and rhymes with pom— Jeremy Hellickson(@JHell58) April 28, 2013Unbelievable someone would mis remember so quickly. Stay in your lane. Nobody cares what you have to say. #tom— Matt Moore(@MattyMoe55) April 28, 2013"
The Rays could not believe what Hallion did both initially and when he called Price a liar, and it’s lucky that Sunday marked the end of the Rays-White Sox four-game set because this could have been an ongoing situation. Instead, the Rays will move on, having an off-day to get themselves right physically and mentally on Monday before heading to Kansas City to take on James Shields and the Royals on Tuesday. Joe Maddon, for his part, did have a positive spin on the whole situation.
"“The turning point of the game was the ejection of Hellickson,” manager Joe Maddon said jokingly, before Price spoke to the media. “The guy’s constantly chirping from the dugout. He’s one of the most vociferous players on our team. To finally have an umpire get him, I was not surprised, but it got everyone pumped up and led to the victory.”"
Please note that Maddon was being sarcastic about Hellickson “constantly chirping from the dugout.” He’s known as one of the quietest players in baseball. Why did Hellickson get ejected? As Maddon described it “I have no idea. I didn’t hear it. I thought it was his facial expression that got him kicked out,” Maddon said. “He might have went from poker face to, what? Sleepy face.”
In any event, after all this craziness, the Rays rallied to win, with Price getting his first victory of the year, and all is good in Rays Nation. This was frustrating and simply and idiotic situation, but everyone is moving on and the Rays will be just fine.