Spitting tobacco juice is no longer permissible in Major League Baseball, but there’s still nothing in the rule book preventing on-field personnel from spewing bile.
Think of all the managers who made a living yelling at umpires, guys like Billy Martin, Leo Durocher, Earl Weaver and Bobby Cox. And it was so entertaining to watch, especially if finger pointing, kicking of dirt or hurling of bats, hats or bases was involved.
MLB has tried to intervene by making arguing balls and strikes cause for immediate ejection. And the replay system has curtailed the number of beefs over plays on the bases. Still, things often happen that raise the field temperature so high that players and managers can’t help themselves.
By the way, did you see what happened in the second inning of Thursday’s Game 1 of the doubleheader between the New York Yankees and Tampa Bay Rays at Yankee Stadium?
Rookie umpire Brennan Miller was working the plate for just the fifth time in his MLB career and the guy was having some trouble with his strike zone. You could sense the frustration building in the Yankee dugout. Gary Sanchez was not happy. D.J. LeMahieu was dismayed. Soon the entire bench was chirping at Miller.
Things finally exploded when Miller called Brett Gardner out on strikes. Gardner did not take the news well. When he got back to the dugout he repeatedly slammed the lumber into the bat rack as if he was churning butter. Then he went after the roof of the dugout. But that was nothing compared to how manager Aaron Boone reacted.
“It was getting heated there with several of our guys in the first couple innings,” said Boone after the game. “I felt it was necessary to take the attention off some other guys.”
Think of how many arguments you’ve watched transpire in your life. Until Thursday, all you really could do was try to read lips and use your imagination. Well, that all changed this time. No need for translation.
Boone’s been ejected before so he’s not a novice. What distinguished this trip to the plate was that every word he said was picked up by the YES Network so clearly it was almost like Boone was standing next to you. And he was not kind to Miller.
“Sometimes in the heat of battle, you utter some things,” said Boone after the game.
Boone rushed to the plate after Miller ejected him and his spiel was filled with profanity, highlighted by multiple ways to invoke the F-word.
“My guys are (expletive) savages in that (expletive) box,” Boone yelled at Miller. “And you’re having a piece of (expletive) start to this game. I feel bad for you. But (expletive) get better. That guy is a good pitcher. But our guys are (expletive) savages in that box. Our guys are savages in that (expletive) box. Tighten it up right now, okay? Tighten this (expletive) box.”
As you might imagine, the Yankee players loved the (expletive) show.
“He’s been calling us savages all year, and we’ve had that mentality since Spring Training,” Yankees slugger Luke Voit told MLB.com. “It’s pretty cool. Not a lot of coaches would back it up and use that type of word, but I think we appreciate it. We are a bunch of savages, and we’ve got to keep going.”
“We love it as a team,” Aaron Judge also told MLB.com. “It shows he’s in the trenches with us. He’s out there fighting with us, living and dying on every single pitch. He has our back. There were a couple of questionable calls, and he trusted us and had our back and went with us. He saved maybe Gardy and couple of people from getting thrown out. That’s a good thing.”
As we mentioned, Boone seemed rather apologetic after the game. It’s hard to imagine this is the same guy who was doing Little League World Series games during his career as a television analyst. But he must have been embarrassed that his meltdown was captured in such syllabic syncopation.
“I was sympathetic to him, while obviously also being upset,” said Boone. “I didn’t mean that by any means in a demeaning way, it was more just, ‘I know we’re all over you here, and it’s early in this game.’ I thought it was important to make a statement there.”
Reporters at the game sent a representative to the umpires room to get a response from crew chief Gerry Davis. He thought Boone’s comments were excessive.
“You’re not allowed to argue balls and strikes,” said Davis. “”That will all be in the report.”
No profanities included, we’d assume.