Rays Notes: Price, Hellickson, Moore Fined for Tweets, Moore Loses AL Pitcher of the Month
By Robbie Knopf
After days of deliberation, Major League Baseball has finally ruled on the situation between David Price and umpire Tom Hallion where Hallion approached Price and allegedly cursed at him as he walked off the field. Price, Jeremy Hellickson (who was ejected from that game), and Matt Moore were all fined $1,000 and Hallion was assessed the same punishment. The amount seems like pocket change for MLB players, but it’s a much more meaningful amount to Hallion and even Hellickson and Moore, who will make only $503,000 and $1MM respectively. All three players regretted tweeting so soon after the game when their emotions had not yet cooled off, but for Price, knowing that Hallion got fined doesn’t make him feel any better about what happened.
"“Whatever happened to Hallion, I just wanted an apology,” Price said. “I didn’t want any money to come out of his pocket, I didn’t want him to get fired or fined or suspended or anything like that. I just wanted what I thought was fair to me and the rest of this team, and that was an apology.”"
No one wants to see anyone, even an umpire that blew a call against your team, to lose a decent portion of his livelihood, and Price acknowledged that. He didn’t want anything sadistic, to make Hallion suffer or anything along those lines, and just wanted Hallion to apologize, not for his bad call that incited Price’s frustration but simply for what he said. The fine is an incentive for umpires throughout baseball to simply do their jobs and not turn their game into any sort of sideshow, but Price simply believed that he was publicly embarrassed and wants a public apology to make up for it. Will Hallion humble himself even more and do just that? In any event, Joe Maddon hopes that Price, Hellickson, and Moore getting fined can be a learning experience for the entire team.
"“I believe that maybe everybody’s going to learn from this and hopefully going to be able to avoid it in the future, the fact that it’s not the right way to go about disputing a situation,” Maddon said.“There’s a decorum that needs to be met. I know sometimes I might have crossed over the line myself or got close to it. Hopefully, I’m going to learn from it myself. Try to choose your words more carefully.”"
On Twitter, athletes have the opportunity to let their feelings be heard without needing a reporter there to listen. At the same time, though, that creates a dangerous situation where athletes get the impression that they say whatever they want without fear of repercussions, and that can’t be the case. Hallion made a serious mistake, but Price, Hellickson, and Moore venting on Twitter was foolish and impulsive and hopefully they can let their anger out in the proper way next time around.
Speaking of Moore, he had an unbelievable April, going 5-0 with a 1.13 ERA, yet he wasn’t the American League Pitcher of the Month. Clay Buchholz of the Red Sox received the award after going 5-0 with a 1.19 ERA. Wait a second–looking at ERA, Moore was better! Moore also obliterated Buchholz in opposing average, .124 to .192! Why didn’t Moore win? The answer is that sometimes looking at just a couple numbers doesn’t paint the whole picture. Moore threw 32 innings while Buchholz threw 37.2, and Moore’s 38-15 strikeout to walk ratio was a tick worse than Buchholz’s 39-13. People have pointed to the fact that the Red Sox are leading the AL East while the Rays are in 4th as the reason for Buchholz beating Moore, but Buchholz’s FIP (fielding independent pitching) was an incredible 2.51 compared to just 3.45 for Moore. Even in the basic statistics say otherwise, Buchholz was better than Moore.
But there’s a positive side to this as well: Moore still has room for improvement. As R.J. Anderson of Baseball Prospectus described it, “Moore may have another gear left.” He is walking 4.2 batters per 9 innings, and as he improves his control, he has a chance to find sustained dominance. Moore’s current great run will come to an end, but improvements to his control will give him a chance to become not a pitcher who simply has his moments but one who ranks among the best in baseball over the course of the season. Expect Moore’s ERA to go up quite a bit in the coming weeks, but if he makes the necessary improvements to his control, the number where it finishes will still be one of the lowest in the American League.