Upset over “escalating verbal attacks” on its members, the World Umpires Association issued a statement and wore white wristbands in protest across Major League Baseball games on Saturday.
The final straw in the battle between players and umpires was an altercation between Detroit Tigers second baseman Ian Kinsler and home plate umpire Angel Hernandez on Monday in Texas. Kinsler was ejected for arguing balls and strikes, and harshly criticized Hernandez after the game. Per Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press:
Kinsler, an 11-year veteran, unloaded on Hernandez’s performance, saying, “It has to do with changing the game. He’s changing the game. He needs to find another job, he really does.”
And, “I’m just saying it’s pretty obvious that he needs to stop ruining baseball games.” And, “Candidly, leave the game. No one wants you behind the plate anymore. No one in this game wants you behind the plate any more, none of the players.”
We ALL stand by Angel!— MLB World Umpires (@MLBaseballUmps) August 17, 2017
Kinsler was fined an undisclosed amount on Friday by MLB, but not suspended. That prompted the Saturday statement and action from major league umpires.
“This week, a player publicly and harshly impugned the character and integrity of Angel Hernandez — a veteran umpire who has dedicated his career to baseball and the community,” the World Umpires Association said in a statement. “The verbal attack on Angel denigrated the entire MLB umpiring staff and is unacceptable.
“The Office of the Commissioner has failed to address this and other escalating attacks on umpires. The player who denigrated Hernandez publicly said he thought he would be suspended. Instead got far more treatment -- a fine. He shrugged that off and told reporters he has ‘no regrets’ about his offensive statements calling for an end to Hernandez’s career.”
Joe West, who in a separate incident earlier in August was suspended three games by MLB for a relatively innocuous and lighthearted comment calling Texas Rangers third baseman Adrian Beltre the “biggest complainer” in the league, was one of several umpires wearing the wristbands in Saturday’s games.
Umpire Joe West before taking the field today wearing white wrist band to protest escalating verbal attacks on MLB umpires! pic.twitter.com/a8TkW2JCip— MLB World Umpires (@MLBaseballUmps) August 19, 2017
“Enough is enough,” the umpires statement concluded, “Umpires will wear the wristbands until our concerns are taken seriously by the Office of the Commissioner.”