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MLB: Ump Jumped the Gun
2002-08-06 17:10
by Mike Carminati

MLB: Ump Jumped the Gun in Dumping Gagne

MLB has ruled that ump Dan Iassogna made a mistake ejected Eric ("Don't Call Me Greg") Gagne in the August 1 game in which the Dodgers, then leading 4-2, eventually lost 6-4 in 16 innings.

OK, so given that the game has playoff implications for both teams and the ump screwed the pootch, replay it from that point on. Isn't this the same as the George Brett pine tar incident (other than the game was played on from that point whereas Brett's call ended the game)? Iassogna's ejection was not only illogical (why would Gagne throw at a man when the tying run would bat next?), he overstepped his boundaries by ejecting Gagne without issuing a warning first. Gagne is not a head hunter (2 hit batsmen this year, though 16 last year) nor has he demonstrated a penchant for hitting men after a homer: 5 HR allowed to 2 HB in 2002, 24 HR to 16 HB in 2001.

Of course, they won't replay because a) LA does not travel to Cincinnati, the site of the incident, again this year (nor do they play each other at Dodgers Stadium) and the schedule is too tight and b) the Dodgers are happy to have Gagne back sans suspension and will not try to muck that up.

But what about Iassogna? What happens to him? Here are the results of his poor decision making according to resident enforcer Bill Watson:

There were a whole lot of things that happened to the Dodgers as a result of the umpire making that call, and we just really felt that nothing else needed to be done. Their closer and manager were ejected, they lost the game and had to make roster moves because of all the pitchers they had to use.

Ralph Nelson, vice president of umpiring for MLB, had this to say about Iassogna:

Nelson... probably would not discipline Iassogna, a reserve umpire from Triple-A with extensive service in the majors, because he made a judgment call and "believed he did the right thing at the time."

Oh, well I forgot murder was against the law. It seemed a good idea at the time. Wow, he doesn't even get reprimanded. Rule 8.02 says:

(d) Intentionally Pitch at the Batter. If, in the umpire's judgment, such a violation occurs, the umpire may elect either to: 1. Expel the pitcher, or the manager and the pitcher, from the game, or 2. may warn the pitcher and the manager of both teams that another such pitch will result in the immediate expulsion of that pitcher (or a replacement) and the manager. If, in the umpire's judgment, circumstances warrant, both teams may be officially "warned" prior to the game or at any time during the game. (League Presidents may take additional action under authority provided in Rule 9.05) To pitch at a batter's head is unsportsmanlike and highly dangerous. It should be and is condemned by everybody. Umpires should act without hesitation in enforcement of this rule.

So it's all dependent upon his judgment. Well, he used his judgment, and it was clearly wrong. Shouldn't he at least be instructed as to what qualifies as a situation in which a pitcher may be intentionally throwing at a batter? Just an idea.

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