Umpire suspended for grabbing Jonathan Papelbon after pitcher grabbed himself (vid)
Major League Baseball announced in a press release issued Wednesday that umpire Joe West has been suspended for one game without play for initiating contact with Jonathan Papelbon after he had ejected the Philadelphia Phillies pitcher during Sunday’s game with the Miami Marlins.
After West ejected Papelbon, the pitcher and umpire argued, with Papelbon blocking West’s path back to the field. That’s when West got a handful of Papelbon’s jersey, slightly tugging it to move the pitcher out of the way.
That was enough to warrant some semblance of discipline.
MLB Executive Vice President for Baseball Operations Joe Torre explains.
“Joe West handled himself appropriately in ejecting Papelbon after the player’s lewd gesture to the fans. I fully understand that Joe was reacting to a player who was acting aggressively, and can understand his frustration with the situation. However, Joe knows that an umpire cannot initiate physical contact with a player just as a player cannot initiate physical contact with an umpire. I spoke to Joe about the incident, and he admitted that there was a better way to handle the situation. I consider this matter closed.”
Papelbon was ejected for making the obscene gesture at fans when he grabbed a handful of crotch, something that elicited MLB issuing a seven-game suspension to the fiery pitcher.
So, to sum it up, West gets a one-game suspension for grabbing a fistful of jersey, and Papelbon gets seven games for grabbing a fistful of … something else. Seems fair and unfair at the same time.
At least the MLB expressed some modicum of dissatisfaction with West’s conduct in this instance. That wasn’t the case last season when umpire Paul Nauert tapped Detroit Tigers outfielder Torii Hunter on the face during a game. Nauert received no punishment related to that incident.
West’s paltry punishment likely will be of little solace to Papelbon. In fact, odds are Papelbon would have a rather visceral, perhaps even inappropriate, reaction if asked to respond. Maybe something like…
Bingo! There it is. That’s the ticket.