Joe Torre: Umpires getting hair triggers
HOUSTON -- On the morning after he was ejected from a game for the 65th time in his 29 seasons as a major league manager, the Los Angeles Dodgers' Joe Torre said umpires in general have become too quick with ejections, especially when it comes to players.
"I think sometimes they misread a lot of stuff that players do," Torre said before Sunday's game with the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park. "They take it as showing them up. I don't think umpires take into consideration the passion [players have] in how they respond to players and how quickly they eject players."
You swing and miss at a pitch as a hitter, you bring in the wrong pitcher or someone who gets their rear end kicked, we are all vulnerable, and I don't think umpires should be any different.” -- Dodgers manager Joe Torre
Torre was ejected by plate umpire Paul Emmel in the top of the first inning on Saturday night for arguing from the dugout after third baseman Casey Blake was called out on strikes. Blake argued with Emmel briefly before entering the dugout, but wasn't ejected from the 6-3 win.
"I'm not saying [umpires] should take abuse," Torre said. "But ... strike three with men on base, the player throws his helmet, and all of a sudden, it's 'You're out of here.' It might be that the player is half mad at the umpire and half mad at himself.''
Reds first baseman Joey Votto, among the National League leaders in batting average, homers and RBIs, was tossed for the fourth time in two seasons late last month.
That ejection came as Votto argued a strike call -- with his head toward the ground and eyes clearly averted away from home plate umpire D.J. Reyburn.
"I'll leave that on the field," Votto said later, according to the Cincinnati Enquirer. "I was surprised. But I didn't say anything to get ejected."
Manny Ramirez's swan song in Dodger blue took flight during a tiff with an umpire that resulted in a prompt ejection.
Ramirez had disputed a first-pitch strike from Rockies rookie left-hander Matt Reynolds he thought was outside and was tossed by plate umpire Gary Cederstrom.
It would be his last at-bat with the team, as Ramirez's days with the Dodgers were numbered -- the Chicago White Sox claimed him off waivers later in the week.
But Torre defended him in the aftermath.
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"The crew chief can't do that in a pennant race, or any time," Torre said after the game, according to a story on the Dodgers' website. "This game is high pressure. I came back in and apologized to Manny for getting mad at him. I'm totally disappointed in the way Cederstrom reacted. In that situation, that's crazy."
On Sunday, Torre harkened back to his playing days, when umpires routinely walked away from arguments and made the player follow them in order to continue the argument, a ploy that often would diffuse the situation.
Now, Torre said, umpires are more apt to walk toward the player in a style that could be perceived as confrontational.
"In defense of the umpires, I think they are under a great deal of pressure with all the boxes that are put on your TV screen and all the technology they have now," Torre said. "I think they probably are a little stressed. But this is an imperfect game. You swing and miss at a pitch as a hitter, you bring in the wrong pitcher or someone who gets their rear end kicked, we are all vulnerable, and I don't think umpires should be any different."
Tony Jackson covers the Dodgers for ESPNLosAngeles.com. Follow him on Twitter.
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