As he walked off the mound to end the seventh inning yesterday, Price and Hallion exchanged words, and the pitcher said the umpire told him “to throw the ball over the f—– plate.’’
Hallion denied it and called Price a liar.
Later, as all athletes do these days, Price took to Twitter: “1. I am not a liar 2. I would not make that stuff up 3. My own dad doesn’t speak to me that way 4. Again I am not a liar. #accountability.’’
The quality of umpiring has long been an issue, and along with it the umpire’s sensitivity to criticism. The rub is they are too confrontational and have rabbit years, meaning they don’t let things slide and seek out an argument. It is as if they are looking for a fight.
The umpire is supposed to be the one who is objective and calm, so why was it necessary for Hallion to yell at Price from a distance? Walk up to him calmly and say your piece. Or, better yet, ignore it and realize that with players there’s going to be emotional displays of frustration, with not all of it directed at the umpires.
Major League Baseball is enjoying unmatched financial revenues so it can afford to make improvements in his area that should reduce the tensions between the players and umpires, and more importantly, get it right. There’s ways to make this a less adversarial relationship, at least on the surface.
Let’s start with instant replay. I concede they’ll never have replay on balls-and-strikes, but there’s no reason not to use it for more than just home run calls. Unlike football, the baseball action is primarily focused on fixed locations like the foul lines, outfield wall and bases.
It is absurd not to take advantage of the high-definition technology. Have a representative from MLB in the pressbox, or have the video examined in a central location like the NHL does for its replays or the networks have for their “instant replay’’ expert on the NFL telecasts.
Finally, all umpires should be have microphones they can’t control so exchanges like the one Price and Hallion had can be properly evaluated and eliminate the “he said, he said,’’ issue.
A miked-up Hallion would tell us instantly who is telling the truth, and perhaps more importantly, prove a deterrent to umpires compelled to interject themselves into the emotions of the game.
Please follow me on Twitter @jdelcos
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