For the 2nd time this season Miguel Cabrera of the Detroit Tigers was ejected for arguing balls and strikes in the middle of an at-bat. It happened again last night in the 1st inning as he was hit in the leg with a Chris Sale breaking ball but seemingly offered at the pitch, not checking his powerful swing in time.
The call appeared correct in that when you swing at the pitch, even if it hits you, it’s a strike. Cabrera simply wanted home plate umpire Brian Gorman to ask the 1st base umpire for confirmation. Although a reasonable request, this isn’t required by rule and from the perspective of Gorman, he clearly saw that Cabrera had offered, and had already made his call. Case closed.
Instead of Cabrera accepting the fact that he was just duped by one of the many wicked breakers that Sale would throw on the night, Miggy felt the need to quietly (and aggressively) speak his mind. Whatever he said, it was plenty to earn an immediate ejection from Gorman. And of course, Jim Leyland followed the same protocol as the last time Cabrera was tossed and got himself run out of the game as well. All of this with just two outs recorded on the night.
Perhaps Cabrera is merely in a rut as he is just 2 for his last 14 with no extra-base hits. A rare slump in a season of otherwise pure dominance, coupled with his ongoing and annoying injury issues, maybe has the superstar in a dark place mentally.
Regardless, his selfish actions last night forced the Tigers to run Ramon Santiago out to 3rd and slot him into the 3-hole in the lineup as well. On a night where the Tigers needed all of the offense they could get against one of the game’s fiercest lefties, Santiago predictably went 0 for 4 in Cabrera’s stead. The Tigers played flat and emotionless without the big fella and lost 5-1 and have now seen the 2nd place Cleveland Indians sneak to within 4.5 games in the standings.
Am I irritated that he was ejected? Definitely. Are the standings getting slightly uncomfortable? I suppose, although I’m not worried. But what does bother me is that Cabrera, much like Justin Verlander has on many occasions this year, seems to be taking himself a little too seriously with the umpires.
It was this same sense of apparent entitlement that sucked the life out of my Detroit Pistons-loving veins. I was as die-hard a Pistons fan as you could find all the way up until the few short years that followed their NBA championship in 2004.
Suddenly, the players that kept the ‘team’ concept alive in the NBA became a bunch of crybabies. From Ben Wallace to Rip Hamilton to the previously understated Tayshaun Prince – they all took a ‘how dare you touch me’ approach to the game. Any perceived wrongdoing on the court and the floodgates would open up on the officials. It was embarrassing, and for me, intolerable. I had to cut bait. To this day, I will not watch a Pistons game.
I’m not sure that I’d ever be able to sever ties with my love of baseball and the Tigers, but watching superstars piss and moan to umpires is simply agonizing.
If a call doesn’t go your way, shut your mouth, grit your teeth, and mash a double to the gap, Mr. Cabrera. Hey JV, you don’t like that you’re two inches off the black and can’t buy a call? Lock in and start firing bullets past helpless hitters like old times. Neither of you are entitled. And in that sense, at least the Pistons had won a championship before their character flaws emerged.
Don’t show the legions of young fans watching you play every night that it’s OK to act like that. Don’t take your frustrations out on the umpires either. It shows an immaturity and a lack of confidence unbecoming of the game’s greats. Take it out on the opposition.
Do that, and maybe this recent string of lackluster performances flips and turns into a nice, long, pennant-clinching winning streak.
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