Two All-Stars ejected in two days over pitch clock disputes
First Manny Machado got tossed from the Diamondbacks game and then Tim Anderson is thrown out of the Giants matchup. Both ejections were for protesting pitch clock violations.
In a season where there are a bevy of new rules in the MLB, none have rankled more feathers than the pitch timer. In the first week of regular season play, there have been several violations clocked up on both pitchers and hitters, and it must be said that most have been inconsequential. An added ball here, or strike there has not been of much import as a general rule.
But there have been exceptions to that rule. The first came when Manny Machado was tossed by home plate umpire Ron Kulpa from the Padres 6-8 loss to the Diamondbacks on Tuesday. Machado clearly asked for time since he was not ready at eight seconds, which under the new rule he is allowed to do once per at-bat. Kulpa elected not to grant it and instead rung him up with an automatic strike three, ending the inning.
Questioning the call, in particular the decision not to grant the time out that Machado asked for, Kulpa decided to end the discussion by chucking the All-Star infielder out of the game, making him the first player to ever be ejected over the polemic new rule.
Then only one day later, another All-Star infielder had the same fate applied, as Tim Anderson was ejected from the White Sox’s 7-3 win over the Giants. The situation was nearly a carbon copy of Machado’s, with Anderson asking for time and home plate umpire DJ Reyburn declining to allow it. Anderson stepped out of the box as Logan Webb threw strike three across the plate.
After chirping back for several pitches from the dugout, either at the umpire or at Webb depending on who you ask, Anderson was sent to the showers for the day.
Across the league, the pitch clock is wreaking havoc amongst players. One way to state it is that the pitch clock is divisive, but that isn’t really the whole story. The division comes between the media and the players. The media is fawning over how wonderful the pitch clock is, how it is breathing new life into the game, how fans are sure to come flocking to see these streamlined games. But the players themselves are set foursquare against it.
During an in-game interview with Bryce Harper, the Phillies wonderkind stated matter-of-factly that there are “a lot of players that want our game back” adding that for the moment at least, “it is what it is.” When pressed by the commentators to expand on that idea, Harper refused to elaborate.
In the LA Angels 4-3 win over the Mariners, none other than the great Shohei Ohtani enters the history books as the first player to be penalized for a pitch timer violation as both pitcher and batter in the same game.
It is worth noting that in order for new rules to be brought in by MLB, it must first be voted on and approved by the Competition Committee. That committee is made up of 11 people: one umpire, four players, one media or television executive, and five owners. This is by design, allowing owners to close ranks, usually either with the media in tow or at the behest of their television paymasters and overrule the players on any and all matters.
When voting on the pitch clock’s use, the players voted unanimously against the idea. It was rubber-stamped by that unholy alliance of the owners and media. The deck is stacked, the game is rigged, the house is tilted, and what is worse, nobody seems to notice, nobody seems to care.
Harper is right on one count, though. The players want their game back. The game that they have devoted their lives to, that we all know and love. But Rob Manfred and the television executives are not likely to loosen their grip any time soon.
The damage being done to baseball may be too critical to heal. And all to shave a few minutes off.