MLB umpires have had it with players voicing their opinions! On Saturday, the World Umpires Association said (via statement) that in response to "escalating verbal attacks," MLB umpires would be wearing white wristbands. And for how long? Well, until the Commissioner's Office takes their complaints seriously. Players (or one player in particular) have been publicly speaking out about umpires doing their jobs poorly, and the umps don't think that Rob Manfred has done enough to punish players.
This whole protest stemmed from one particular incident last Monday. The Tigers' Ian Kinsler was batting with umpire Angel Hernandez on the balls and strikes, and after a ball was called, Kinsler looked back at Hernandez. And then Hernandez ejected him. It's not clear if he said anything, but he had time to utter maybe a single word before Hernandez sent him to the showers. Kinsler then unleashed on Hernandez after the game, essentially saying that Hernandez is bad at his job and should retire.
Thus far, the response to the umpires' protest hasn't been overwhelming. Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said he thought it was "petty" and Kinsler told reporters he didn't care at all. Probably not the response the umpires wanted. And that's probably because the protest seems a little out of proportion to what’s actually happening. Kinsler didn't actually impugn every umpire by saying that Angel Hernandez is terrible at his job (which he can be). It was just one comment. But contrast this situation to what happened with Joe West a few weeks ago. He made a comment about Adrian Beltre being a big complainer and MLB suspended him for three games. Kinsler, by comparison, got no suspension from MLB, just a fine.
In reality, no one should have gotten a suspension for expressing their opinions. But these white wristbands? It feels like they're putting on a show just to draw attention to themselves, not to an issue. The wristbands won't make the players respect them more; it might actually do the opposite. And the Commissioner's Office could just see this as more fit pitching by the umpires, whom Rob Manfred has actually spoken of favorably recently.
If the umpires wanted baseball (players, fans, executives, etc.) to take them and their issues seriously, these wristbands don't seem like a great way to do it. But the wristbands do seem like a great way to make people roll their eyes at umpires.
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