First, the back-story ...
Tuesday night, A.J. Pierzynski slide into second base spikes-high, and didn't exactly gore Ben Zobrist but could have. If you've been following baseball for more than a few seconds, this doesn't surprise you because A.J. Pierzynski does things like that. Zobrist was fine, and shook it off. There were no fisticuffs, nor even a small rhubarb.
That was Tuesday night.
Wednesday afternoon when Pierzynski batted in the third inning, Alex Cobb plunked him with a fastball, in the right-shoulder area.
Even Steven? Frontier justice, nothing to see here just move along ma'am?
Except the next time Zobrist batted, Chicago's Jose Quintana threw a knee-high fastball that went just behind Zobrist.
Plate umpire Mark Wegner immediately ejected Quintana. And up in the visitors' TV booth, Hawk Harrelson went nuts ...
"Oh what are you doin'? He threw him out of the ball game? You've got to be bleepin' me? What in the hell are you doing? What are you doin', Wegner? You've gotta be kiddin' me! That is so bad! That is absolutely brutal!! That is un-believable!! I'll tell ya what, they have got to start making guys be accountable; that is totally absurd! That just tells you-- here's an umpire in the American League that knows nothing about the game of baseball."
Hawk went on in this vein for some time, and into the next inning. It didn't help that Robin Ventura came out to argue and eventually got ejected.
One might argue that Wegner should have warned both teams after Cobb nailed Pierzynski. But when umpires do that, old baseball guys like Harrelson complain that you can't take away the pitchers' ability to throw inside. "Don't warn 'em!" they'll say, "They've taken care of business, now just let 'em play!"
Which is essentially what Wegner did. I'm guessing that he figured everything was square after the Rays retaliated for the spiking. Or should be square, anyway. Because he tossed Quintana so quickly after the pitch to Zobrist, one wonders if Wegner had already made up his mind: If the White Sox retaliate for the retaliation, I'm tossing somebody.
For which I can't really blame him. It's gotta stop somewhere. Wegner could instead have warned both teams, which probably would have stopped it. But if I'm umpiring and the pitcher throws a fastball at the batter's knees ... I'd be inclined to throw the guy out, too. There's a lot of bone down there.
Ken Harrelson, of course, is the ultimate homer. Well, almost ultimate. He's not so jaded that he won't criticize the White Sox if they're looking particularly bad. But he does refer to the Sox as the good guys and their opponents as the bad guys and he does go pretty far over the top when a call goes against his club. I'm not absolutely sure that he's wrong about Mark Wegner; I haven't done the research. But I'm fairly sure that if one of the bad-guy pitchers were throwing at Paul Konerko's knees, the Hawkeroo wouldn't take it real well.