Toronto Blue Jays slugger Brett Lawrie apologized later for his tantrum, and he seemed to mean it, but video of him slamming his batting helmet to the ground and it hitting umpire Bill Miller in the right hip is incriminating. Lawrie deserves a long suspension, and one is likely.
Adding to the miserable ending of Miller's night, a disgruntled fan in the stands at Rogers Centre tossed a mostly full cup of beer and hit Miller in the right shoulder (video swiped by Deadspin) as he walked off the field. No matter how poorly Miller might have called the final two pitches of Lawrie's at-bat — strike two appeared to catch even less of the zone than strike three — he doesn't deserve either reaction.
Umpires don't need the league to protect them from their own poor performance, but they do need protection from players and fans (or anyone) who flies off the handle. Miller seemed remarkably measured in his postgame comments:
''Upon seeing that he was ejected, he took several steps toward me and fired his helmet. It hit me in the right hip,'' Miller said.
''That's a bit extreme,'' Miller said.
It was, though Lawrie had stopped going berserk by the time reporters reached him:
"That was not my intention at all,'' Lawrie said. ''I've never, ever done anything to go at an umpire before in my life, and I didn't mean to tonight. I apologize for that.
''It's just my passion for the game,'' he said. ''I wanted to help my teammates out as best I could. That's the pride I have in this game. I leave my emotions out on the field.''
Getting thrown out of a one-run game (Toronto lost to the Rays 4-3) and incurring a suspension from the league helps the Blue Jays, how, exactly? And since when is it cool to lose your cool? Lawrie sure didn't make it look like an accident when he stepped toward the umpire and threw down his helmet. Lawrie completely obliterated his own point — getting balls and strikes called correctly — by throwing a fit (and some equipment).
Blue Jays manager John Farrell, who also got ejected after going out to restrain Lawrie and to argue with Miller's calls, took more umbrage with the umpiring than his 22-year-old losing control.
''The bat was taken completely out of Brett's hands, not only the 3-1 pitch but the 3-2 pitch as well,'' Farrell said. ''Those are not strikes.''
That's the best lesson we can take from the game, eh? That when things don't go your way, just mindlessly rage against the machine. By that logic, Lawrie should share some of the blame for inciting the fan to throw the beer at the ump. (And maybe he should.)
At least by apologizing immediately, Lawrie should lessen the penalty that's coming. What will the MLB disciplinarian (Joe Torre) give him? Yadier Molina got five games for his spitting tirade at Rob Drake a season ago. Back in 2000, MLB suspended Carl Everett for 10 games for a head-butting quarrel with Ron Kulpa. When he was in the minor leagues, Delmon Young got 50 games for throwing his bat at an umpire. That was unquestionably intentional.
Lawrie should get at least 10 games.
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