Big League Stew

Hawk Harrelson rages against umpire during White Sox broadcast

Big League Stew

"You've got to be bleepin' me" has replaced "He gone!" and "You can put it on the board, yes!" as the top catch phrase used by Chicago White Sox TV broadcaster Ken "Hawk" Harrelson. He has pulled out the "bleepin' me" a couple of times before, but Harrelson's rant against the actions of umpire Mark Wegner was epic as they come Wednesday. Harrelson even went so far as to suggest Wegner be suspended for incompetence.

Hold 'er there, pards.

The White Sox were visiting Tropicana Field, going for a sweep of the Tampa Bay Rays, when Wegner ejected starting pitcher Jose Quintana for throwing behind the legs of Ben Zobrist in the bottom of the fourth. Quintana — and this is merely speculation — probably was trying to retaliate for the Rays hitting A.J. Pierzynski (and Gordon Beckham) earlier in the game. (Of course, it's possible that Pierzynski was plunked because of a somewhat unnecessary hard slide earlier in the series. So this could go on and on, like a History Channel docudrama.)

So Wegner tosses Quintana, despite having given no warnings — which probably was the thrust of the argument used by White Sox manager Robin Ventura, who also was ejected.

But the star of the show was Harrelson, a passionate homer who easily gets under the skin of most viewers not rooting for his White Sox. Those who don't like him probably would call this rant "unprofessional."

"Aw, what are you doin? He threw him out of the ballgame? You gotta be bleepin' me! What in the hell are you doing? What are you doing, Wegner? You gotta be kidding me! That is so bad, that is absolutely brutal! That is unbelievable. I tell you what: They have got to start making guys be accountable. That is totally absurd! That just tells you that he's absolutely ... here's an umpire in the American League who knows nothing about the game of baseball!

"They have got to do something about this, I tell you. They've got some guys in this league that have no business umpiring. They have no business umpiring because they have no idea what the game of baseball is about."

View photo

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(Getty)

Here's a longer version of the rant, though Harrelson continued even beyond it, saying vaguely that the Sox have had problems with Wegner before. Not sure what he means.

Hawk's broadcasts are ... unique ... and it was great to hear him paired with Tom Paciorek again. The Hawk and Wimpy team was great fun for most Sox fans in the 1990s and into the '00s.

As to the content of Hawk's complaint, that Wegner "doesn't know the game," he's referring to the concept of pitching inside, hitting other players on purpose if need be. I've done a 180 on this. Or perhaps a 540. It's not simply about machismo, or "protecting our guys." There's plenty of intimidation, and much of it is testosterone-filled, but there's also an important tactical give-and-take happening. Most pitchers need to throw inside to be effective. That can mean hitting the inside of the plate, or getting an opposing batter's feet moving and his mind wandering at the prospect of getting a high hard one.

Teams need to be able to throw inside, and if that means hitting some guys, so be it. If you ever see a truly dangerous pitch — something at the head — it's probably an accident.

And I don't see a problem with Hawk. The guy "bleeps" himself, after all. (Except for saying "hell.") He's fun. And it's fun to watch people argue about how loathsome they find him.

And for Sox fans, it's preferable to having him be the team's general manager.

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