Brett Lawrie’s Frustration With Umpire Bill Miller Warranted, But Freakout Shows Lack of Maturity


May 16, 2012

Brett Lawrie's Frustration With Umpire Bill Miller Warranted, But Freakout Shows Lack of MaturityRob Gronkowski might have to show Brett Lawrie a thing or two.

Unlike the Patriots tight end, whose football spiking does no harm despite its intensity, Lawrie may have earned himself a lengthy suspension Tuesday as a result of his throwdown.

Lawrie was upset with back-to-back strike calls made by home-plate umpire Bill Miller in the ninth inning of the Blue Jays' 4-3 loss to the Rays. After the second call, which resulted in the second out of the inning, Lawrie flew off the handle and threw his helmet down in disgust. In most cases, the damage — aside from that done to the helmet — would be minimal. Only in this instance, the helmet ricocheted off the playing field like it was caught in a game of Pong, striking Miller in the right hip.

In Canada, Brett Lawrie has become bigger than Bret Hart. He's the hometown boy who's done little wrong since making his major league debut last August, and calling his talents the "excellence of execution" wouldn't be too far off. However, Lawrie's outburst shows that the 22-year-old still needs to hone his maturity before he can truly become one of the faces of Major League Baseball.

Lawrie's frustration on Tuesday night was warranted. Miller's two strike calls were downright awful, and in a 4-3 game against a division rival, it'd actually be a bit discouraging if Lawrie wasn't upset. But with that said, the actual spiking of the helmet is where Lawrie went off the tracks, even if he did admit after the game that he wasn't trying to strike Miller in any way.

"That was not my intention at all," Lawrie said. "I've never, ever, done anything to go at an umpire before in my life, and I didn't mean to tonight. I apologize for that. It just kind of took an unlucky bounce and I think it got him, so my apologies for that."

In other words, Lawrie played damage control and handled the postgame wrath the best way he could. There's no sense bickering more about the calls or making excuses in the wake of what happened. The length of his all-but-certain suspension hasn't yet been determined, so why give the league any more ammunition in its decision-making process? Owning up to what happened wasn't just the right way to handle things; it was the only way.

Lawrie's regret does little to suppress the magnitude of what actually happened, though. Striking an umpire in any way — whether personally or with an object like a helmet — is one of the fundamental no-nos of baseball, and sports in general. Any deviation from that protocol shows a lack of judgment, if not a lack of maturity as a whole.

Do I think Lawrie is immature? Nope. His postgame apology went a long way toward dispelling that notion. What I do think is that he can still develop in terms of becoming a more controlled player, so that something like this never happens again.

In a league in which playing the game the "right way" is so important, and professionalism is so heavily lauded by fans and is so marketable for the league, Lawrie needs to make good for his transgression. He put his team in a tough spot with a looming suspension, but Lawrie is still young enough that this can blow over before long.

Talent is what made him Canada's hero, but a little bit more self-control will ensure that admiration crosses the border.

Click here to see a video of Brett Lawrie's freakout >>

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