If a player, manager or coach acted like Ron Kulpa did Wednesday night in Texas, he’d be suspended — or at least fined.
But given Kulpa is a big league umpire, however, it’s far from certain he’ll be disciplined, even though he should be.
Kulpa was behind our first ump show of the 2019 season Wednesday night, much to the chagrin of the Houston Astros. When it was all said and done, Kulpa ejected two Astros while overstepping his boundaries on at least three occasions.
Houston took early issue with Kulpa’s strike zone, and Kulpa took early issue with the Astros. After a few borderline calls from Kulpa, the Astros were barking, and Kulpa heard enough. But it’s how he then escalated the situation that didn’t sit well with anyone in that dugout, particularly Astros manager A.J. Hinch. He made a couple of trips to the home plate area, with the second actually resulting in an ejection for Astros hitting coach Alex Cintron.
One pitch later, Hinch was gone, too.
The worst part might be Kulpa’s pomposity amid the entire ordeal. He can be seen, multiple times, saying some variety of “I can do anything I want” to Hinch, who was protecting his team. Hinch clearly took issue with Kulpa repeatedly looking into the dugout almost as if to provoke Cintron or anyone else on the bench.
Kulpa also had some issues with Houston starter Gerrit Cole and catcher Max Stassi. After Cole had a few words for Kulpa later in the game, Stassi eventually stepped in protecting his catcher. Although very lightly, Kulpa could be seen pushing Stassi back toward the dugout. Kulpa started even more trouble the next inning when he appeared to cut off Cole’s warmup pitches, which obviously didn’t sit well with anyone on the visiting side. Unsurprisingly, Cole had words for Kulpa when his outing came to an end.
Hinch said after the game the Astros would “let the league sort it out,” and we’ll have to wait and see whether that means any sort of discipline for Kulpa.
Thumbnail photo via Tim Heitman/USA TODAY Sports Images