Umpires should be seen and not heard. They should ensure games run smoothly and without incident.
Andy Fletcher apparently forgot all of that Thursday.
The veteran umpire embarrassed himself and the rest of Major League Baseball’s umpires with a childish display during a game between the Chicago Cubs and Los Angeles Dodgers at Wrigley Field.
Fletcher called ball four on a pitch from Jon Lester in the second inning, and Lester appeared to either take issue with the call, the pitch or both. However, the Cubs left-hander stayed on the mound and didn’t appear to make any sort of gesture toward or at Fletcher.
That, however, didn’t stop Fletcher from escalating the situation. Instead, he attempted to march out to the mound and give Lester a piece of his mind. Fletcher went looking for a fight, and things could have gotten really ugly had it not been for Cubs catcher David Ross, who held Fletcher back — much like a manager will do for his player when the player is trying to get at an umpire.
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If MLB has any good sense, it will do something to discipline Fletcher, at least with a fine and maybe even a suspension. In these sorts of situations, ideally you’d like to see the umpire try to extinguish the situation — especially if the player isn’t being overly combative. Fletcher instead threw gasoline all over what was a small fire. The situation called for an adult, only to see Fletcher act like a child.
Umpires do deserve the right to defend themselves in arguments with players, and they certainly do that on a frequent basis. But that’s usually when a player starts the confrontation. Fletcher almost entirely acted as the aggressor in this scenario, which again, flies in the face of what umpires should do.
Players have to answer when they cross the line, and umpires like Fletcher should have to answer, too.
Thumbnail photo via David Banks/USA TODAY Sports Images