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Hirshbeck to Where You Once
2003-02-06 13:13
by Mike Carminati

Hirshbeck to Where You Once Belonged

It's hard to believe it today, but umpires once were men who had to cower for their lives if they made a call that displeased the local patron. It's hard to believe because umpires today are all full of swaggering bravado and vinegar.

First, they resign en masse as some sort of strike. That fails and their union has to regroup. Next they try to take on the employers for being evaluated via a computerized (and inherently flawed) system. Now, they are getting personal. Bruce Froemming says an epithet that would call for any normal person's dismissal but gets a slap on the wrist in the form of a ten-day suspension. Oh, and he can't go to Japan. But he's sorry and can provide the crocodile tears upon request, be it upon his dismissal from Dodger camp or at your kid's party.

Now, John Hirschbeck has been likewise suspended for "inappropriate language" in a phone conversation with baseball exec Rob Manfred. Maybe it was Swahili?

Hirschbeck, you will recall, was the receiving end of the Roberto Alomar spitting episode back on September 27, 1997. Maybe Alomar's claims that Hirschbeck said some untoward comments are now a little more credible, not that they were deserving of Alomar's peculiar anointing ritual though. You'll also recall that Alomar said, "I used to respect him a lot. He had problems with his family when his son died-I know that's something real tough in life-but after that he just changed, personality-wise. He just got real bitter." This caused Hirschbeck to storm into the O's locker room until he was restrained. Hirschbeck drew no censure on that occasion.

It is gratifying that major-league baseball sees yelling at someone in the office as analogous to making racist and sexist remarks that are recorded and leaked to the press. Why else would they have handed down the same reprimand for each man? It's nice to see that the men who rule the game have not evolved very far from Al Campanis even though it's more than 15 years since his historic remarks regarding African-Americans lacking the "necessities" to manage. It makes them all the easier to dislike in my anti-establishment world. Hey, at least they didn't spit at Hirschbeck.

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