La Velle E. Neal III has covered baseball for the Star Tribune since 1998 (the post-Knoblauch era). Born and raised in Chicago, he grew up following the White Sox and hating the Cubs. He attended both the University of Illinois and Illinois-Chicago and began his baseball writing career at the Kansas City Star. He can be heard occasionally on KFAN radio, lending his great baseball mind to Paul Allen and other hosts. Mark Rosen borrows him occasionally for WCCO-TV.

Umpires and tasers

Posted by: La Velle E. Neal III under Off the field Updated: July 22, 2010 - 11:24 PM

The latest umpire controversy erupted, literally, in the seventh inning of the Twins-Orioles game.

J.J. Hardy tried to scramble back to first base on a botched steal and was easily tagged out.

Or so we thought.

First base umpire Gary Darling ruled Hardy safe on his dive back to first.

``I thought I was safe until I saw the replay,'' Hardy said.

That call elicited a volcanic eruption from Orioles first baseman Ty Wigginton, who was ejected and had to be restrained by interim manager Juan Samuel. Wigginton made contact with Darling during his eruption and will likely be suspended.

Darling, after the game: ``We looked at it, he missed him the first time and on a close play, he got him the second time it looked like.''

Hardy eventually came around to score on Drew Butera’s single. Apparently, Orioles pitching coach Rick Kranitz mockingly applauded the umpires, and home plate umpire Bill Hohn tossed Kranitz.

Samuel erupted and was tossed by Hohn. Samuel tried to kick his hat, missed and eventually tossed it across the infield. It was bizarre behavior by the 30-65 Orioles.

I now give you the entire interview between Darling, Hohn and a pool reporter whose initials are SM (seriously, I have never met the pool reporter, someone e-mailed me the exchange)

SM:  What is your take on the play at first, have you seen a replay?

Gary Darling:  We looked at it, he missed him the first time and on a close play, he got him the second time it looked like.
 
SM:  So you think it was a missed call
 
GD:  It was a close play.
 
SM:  did he bump you
 
GD;  yes
 
SM: So what happens now if that occurred, a player bumping an umpire
 
GD: I will send in my report to the league and they make the decision on anything
 
SM:  he was very angry, do you feel he (wiggy) went too far with the augment
 
GD:  No comment on that, everyone saw how he reacted.
 
SM:  where did he bump you
 
GD:  the chest, stomach, yeah.
 
SM:  Rick Kranitz was ejected and he contended he didn't say anything.
 
GD;  that will be in another report, too
 
at that point umpire Bill Hohn spoke up.....
 
He said "I ejected him for his actions on the bench, is the reason why he got ejected.  He knows the reason why he got ejected.  You saw what he did on the field.
 
SM;  would you want to say what actions (from kranitz) you saw on the bench
 
Hohn:  No.  It was uncalled for, unprofessional and uncalled for.
 
A brief comment on tasering fans who run onto the field at baseball games, I'm for it.
 
A fan ran onto the field later in the game. The O's apparently have a no-chase policy in which they let the fan run around until he's tired. The fan made a meal out of his 15 seconds of fame. He ran around the field, dodged around jogging officers and even jumped into the stands until he saw security closing in on him, then jumped back onto the field.
It took Hohn to say something to the lad - on his fourth pass through the infield - before he stopped and was escorted off the field.
 
In this case, I'm for tasering.
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