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Umpire pushes Astros player, screams ‘I can do anything I want’ in bizarre exchange

What the heck is going on?

Major League Baseball umpire Ron Kulpa got into it with the Astros Wednesday night, and this crossed way beyond the line of acceptable and into the absurd.

It started in the second inning, after Astros manager A. J. Hinch left the dugout to talk to Kulpa over what he believed were several bad strike zone calls.

Hinch simply said “you can’t keep doing that,” to which the umpire responded “I can do anything I want.” Kulpa kept repeating the phrase, adding a “that’s right” for good measure. This didn’t end the issues, not by a long shot.

In the third inning Kulpa got into it again — this time with pitcher Gerrit Cole.

Video shows Cole doing his best not to say anything to Kulpa, containing his emotions and walking back to the mound after giving up a hit. Exactly what he’s supposed to do in this situation — but that wasn’t enough for Kulpa, who yells at the pitcher, before pushing Astros’ catcher Max Stassi.

Then, if that wasn’t enough, Kulpa stood between the pair at the top of the fourth, interrupting Cole’s warmup. The whole thing was an avoidable mess, and it left fans — as well as players — asking questions.

Hinch was surprisingly calm and collected when asked about the incident during postgame interviews.

It’s unclear why Kulpa wanted to antagonize the Astros so much. Obviously these kind of arguments between umpires and teams is routine, it’s a part of baseball — but this went far beyond the pale.