Kyle Schwarber “got his money’s worth” on Sunday night when he was ejected in the bottom of the ninth inning. Veteran umpire Ángel Hernández called strike three on a borderline pitch thrown by Brewers closer Josh Hader.
Schwarber rightfully had enough. He threw his helmet and bat down in front of the plate. Hernández’s brutal night turned theatrical when Schwarber began expressing his frustration with the zone using his hands. It made for great content. The Phillies left fielder will not face a suspension for his actions, but it’s possible that he could be fined.
On Monday afternoon, manager Joe Girardi was asked about the frustration fans may have on his decision to stay relatively calm on Sunday night. Even the ESPN broadcast assumed Girardi could be ejected after Schwarber.
So why did Girardi keep his cool when Schwarber lost his?
“Because it’s not going to change anything,” Girardi said.
Girardi told reporters following the game that he said to Hernández in the ninth: “It’s gotta be better than that. It just does.”
But what if it’s done in an effort to pump up your team? A reporter followed up and asked if that could have been done during Jean Segura’s at-bat in the bottom of the fifth. Hernández called an inside pitch a strike. According to the Twitter account Umpire Auditor, the pitch was 6.47 inches off the plate. It was the most egregious miss of the 2022 season so far.
“I can understand that rationale. I didn’t think it was gonna make a difference in the strikes. You usually go ballistic when you think it’s gonna make a difference in what’s going on. … It started in the first inning and it went through the night.
“Here’s the interesting thing about it. Sometimes you look and there were a lot of called strike threes, right? So now guys know that they have to swing and then they start swinging at pitches they shouldn’t be so it has just more than an effect of being rung up, you know, on pitches that may not be a strike. It forces hitters to be more aggressive and then they go after pitches they shouldn’t and the results are bad.”
Nobody is saying that Girardi doesn’t have his fair share of passionate ejections. A quick search on YouTube to his days as Yankees manager is all you need to disprove that point. Maybe the thinking behind a lack of performative intensity from Girardi on Sunday is valid to an extent. No amount of anger will fix Hernández’s strike zone. He’s worked in the league since 1991. Bad performances usually do not lead to a veteran umpire’s demise in this league.
But then again, there’s a reason why fans cheer on their manager when the umpire ejects them. When things aren’t going well, fans like to see players and coaches prove to them that they are feeling the same type of anger they are experiencing while sitting in front of the TV. A good portion of the manager’s job is to be the public face of a franchise, whether it be through speaking to the media multiple times a day or proving to the fanbase that you’re angry about something — anything really.
- Let’s say the Phillies tied the game on Sunday and Girardi had to replace Schwarber in left. Who exactly was going to play left field? Backup catcher Garrett Stubbs was the answer. He can play the corner outfield and even a little bit of second base. “When we got him, I talked to people that had him and they said ‘You can put him in the outfield.'”
- Speaking of Stubbs, he will likely get a start at some point during the Rockies series. Tuesday is plausible since Zach Eflin is on the mound. Stubbs caught Eflin in each of his previous two starts. J.T. Realmuto has started at catcher for nine consecutive games.
- Schwarber, who played catcher for 144 innings previously in the big leagues, is the team’s emergency backup catcher.
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