We live in a time of intense activism in American life, and the last week in particular has seen a surge of politically motivated public demonstrations. From Charlottesville to Durham to Boston, everything seems to be happening at once, and it’s no coincidence that sports has followed suit, with the NFL’s anthem/Kaepernick controversy rearing its head in conjunction with our national self-reckoning. Regardless of where you fall on the political spectrum, we can concede that these are pressing problems that ask important questions. But I’m not here to write about them … I’m here to write about something far stupider: petulant umpires.
If you missed this story, it goes like this—Ian Kinsler, Detroit Tigers second baseman, took issue with Angel Hernandez’s strike zone, got ejected for arguing with him, and was still upset a day later. Per ESPN:
The back-and-forth started Monday, when Kinsler was ejected for questioning Hernandez’s balls and strikes calls. A day later, he called Hernandez a bad umpire who is “messing with baseball games, blatantly,” adding: “He needs to find another job, he really does.” Speaking again Friday, Kinsler said he was fined for the comments, but that he had no regrets about what he said.
Now, before we go on, let’s get one thing straight: Angel Hernandez is an absolutely abysmal umpire, and everything Kinsler said is true. He’s probably the nine billionth player to think similar thoughts. Along with Joe West and CB Bucknor, Hernandez is routinely voted one of the worst umps in the game by players. Chipper Jones hates him so much that he actually called for a viewer boycott of games Hernandez called.
The other important part of this story is that Kinsler was fined for his comments, and though the actual amount wasn’t disclosed, Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said it was one of the most punitive he’s ever seen. The point is, Kinsler was severely punished for speaking out against a man who many believe is totally incompetent—he did not go free for his so-called “crime.”
Here’s where the story gets stupid: The umpires, all aggrieved because Kinsler didn’t get suspended (they must have absolute power, after all!), have begun wearing white arm bands as a show of … solidarity, I guess? Read their statement:
In a word, this is laughable. There are real problems happening in the world, and the umpires are co-opting a broader spirit of activism because … what? They have ultra thin skin and can’t take the smallest possible dose of criticism? They believe that anyone who dares besmirch their good name should be banned, rather than just fined? It’s so unbelievably whiny and entitled that I must trot out a favorite word of our political combatants everywhere: Snowflake. Major league baseball umpires are officially snowflakes, and this pathetic protest needs to die.
Final note: The most hilarious way for this to end is for some Tigers fan to start a GoFundMe to reimburse Kinsler for his fine. I pledge to pay $3 to this important cause.
The Actual Important Political Cause of the Week: Free These Insane Kids
These two kids from Wisconsin climbed the Golden Gate Bridge at night, defied death, and are now being brought up on charges of trespassing. That’s not justice! These kids are heroes—they even got San Francisco police to institute better safety measures. Why won’t umpires wear a wristband for them? I hope they go free, but also, this was just an excuse for me to post their video, which is both terrific and absolute hell to watch. It’s an instant cure for constipation:
Free the San Fan Two!
The Best and Worst Baseball Pitch of the Week: The Ceremonial Nutshot
The photographer in question was not hurt, so when you finish cringing, it’s OK to laugh at this:
Also, here’s what it looks like the second before you get hit in the unmentionables by a baseball:
Screw the umpires—I will wear a white wristband in solidarity with this man. And by “wristband,” I mean “protective cup.”
The Greatest Tradition in Sports: The Home Run Silent Treatment
Nothing makes me laugh harder than an entire baseball team refusing to acknowledge a rookie after he hits his first home run, and the Philadelphia Phillies pulled it off perfectly when Rhys Hoskins hit his first dinger earlier this week:
Credit to Hoskins for the “air five” move—basically the only way to react when your entire team is snubbing you in front of every camera in the ballpark. Good execution all around, Phillies … too bad it’s the first time all season anyone has uttered that sentence.
I was trying to think of the best hypothetical scenario for a “silent treatment” in sports, and I think I’ve got it: An entire NFL stadium going silent when a rookie scores his first touchdown. Make it happen, Goodell.
The “Never Trust Children” Cautionary Tale of the Week: Rafa Nadal
Here is a short video from 2008 of Rafa Nadal being nice to a small blond child at the Rogers Cup (then known as the du Maurier Open) in Canada:
Now here is a video from nine years later, at the same tournament, where the small blond child has grown into a traitorous adult man named Denis Shapovalov, and beats Rafa Nadal in front of his home crowd:
There are two main points I want to make here:
1. Rafa should have taken out Shapovalov—one of the younger generation’s leading lights—while he had the chance.
2. Regardless of the result, I’m just happy to see that both players are wearing wristbands in solidarity with the umpires.