Posted by Bob Biscigliano in Detroit Tigers
If any member of the Tigers need to bum a smoke this weekend, they won't be able to turn to their manager, Jim Leyland. Leyland and his Marlboro's will not be present in the Tigers dugout for their upcoming series because he has been suspended three games for his conduct during arguments with umpires this week in Texas. The buildup of the anger and stress that has accumulated due to the Tigers very disappointing season, reached the boiling point in Texas, beginning when Umpire Eric Cooper reversed a hit by pitch call in the 6th inning on Monday. Leyland raced out of the dugout, stopped after ten feet to catch his breath, then ran the rest of the way to blow the build up of smoke that came from his lungs into Coopers face. Any good manager would get on an umpire's case for this though. Cooper made a blunder any umpire should know not to make. Leyland was upset that Cooper conceded to the fact that he was blocked out and should have never made the call himself in the first place, thus shouldn't have taken so long for him to look down to first for help. Leyland admitted that the Texas hitter was in fact hit by the pitch, but he was pissed off because Cooper told him he did not have any angle on the call and that he should have checked with first base umpire, Angel Hernandez, from the get go.
Having played for a real knowledgeable baseball manager (Dick Cooke-an auxiliary Coach for team USA) myself in college, I know that it pisses them off the most when an umpire, who although may be making the right call in the end, doesn't make it in a professional umpire's manner. For example, if a right handed batter is up at the plate and the umpire makes a strike call with his left arm (or hand depending on the umpire's pizzazz) my coach would jump down that guy's throat. That's an amateur mistake and you won't see that in the MLB but I think you get what I'm saying. Jim Leyland wanted Cooper to follow the code of umpiring by asking for help because he did not see the ball actually hit the Texas hitter. in my opinion, Cooper admitting that he did not see the play and tried to make the call himself warranted this berating from Leyland.
That incident was only the pie itself. The cherry on top to the suspension comes from Leyland's actions the following night when Angel Hernandez was behind the plate. In the bottom of the ninth inning, Texas' Michael Young checked his swing on a 2-2 count. Judging from the replays, since my MLB.TV was minimized at the time, it appeared as if he went around. Leyland and everyone with reason would think so too. Leyland requested that Hernandez check the call with first base umpire. Hernandez refused. Young walked, and the Rangers wound up scoring three runs and winning the game. (Not really because of the call, but because Rodney loves throwing 0-2 pooschutes). Clearly the fact that the Tigers lost again, in a terrible fashion, angered Leyland. The fact that it all started with a missed 2-2 checked swing call, that wasn't even appealed to someone who had a better view, absolutely infuriated him. After the game, Leyland followed Hernandez to the umpires tunnel, pointing at him, yelling at him, and calling him ugly. It was because of these actions that Leyland was subsequently suspended for three games.
Yeah, Jim Leyland's actions were uncharacteristic, and definitely unprofessional. But can you blame the guy for having to put up with the underachieving Tigers all season, hear criticism all year because he doesn't have the Midas Touch like he used to last year or the year before in managing the lineup, and has to sit and watch a AA bullpen blow a game for the second night in a row, all in addition to unprofessional umpiring? I can't. Jim, I hope you have a wonderful three day vacation. While your gone, hopefully Magglio rises higher in the batting title race, Miguel hits 6 homers to get to 40, and the Lions win a game.