Wednesday's ejections another example of how Orioles-Red Sox feud makes no sense -

Dan Connolly

Wednesday’s ejections another example of how Orioles-Red Sox feud makes no sense

Sometimes, I’m sure we all feel common sense has abandoned this world.

One of the reasons I like sports, and, specifically, baseball, is that there’s a comforting order to the game, a simple sensibility that is refreshing when everything else seems to be going off the rails.

This past week or 10 days, though, well, Orioles’ baseball has been just as confounding as society itself.

I’ve covered this sport for a long time, and I can’t remember a period so strange, so disturbing, so disjointed as this stretch has been.

I’m not talking wins and losses. For one, I don’t play in the games, I just write about them. The outcome for me, in a sense, is incidental. Besides, I once covered an Orioles team that lost 32 of 36 to end a season. That was bizarre, but made sense: That team was awful.

As far as on-field play, these Orioles have been fine, pretty darn good, actually.

No, this stretch of Orioles baseball has been much different from anything I can remember. You take away that 9-1 blown lead against the New York Yankees, and most of what has all of us scratching our heads transpired between the Orioles and Red Sox since April 21.

It’s not worth rehashing in detail. If you read this site, you know what has transpired: Manny Machado spiked Dustin Pedroia on a slide; Machado has been thrown at several times since. Mookie Betts was plunked this week by Dylan Bundy; Adam Jones was the target of racial taunts and a bag of peanuts from Fenway Park fans, Jones was then celebrated the next day by some Fenway Park fans moments before Machado was thrown at again.

And then there was Wednesday night, when Orioles starter Kevin Gausman was ejected in the second inning by veteran umpire Sam Holbrook for plunking Xander Bogaerts on the hip with a 77-mph breaking ball.


It would have been one of the oddest purpose pitches in recent memory. Holbrook (pictured above) has been around the game a long time and should have recognized that – and if he didn’t, Gausman repeatedly yelling, “It was a curveball,” probably should have been a solid clue.

Later, Holbrook ejected Jones – the first ejection of the outfielder’s career – for arguing about a previous strike call. Jones was chirping on his way to the dugout, but he was walking away from Holbrook. Usually, veteran umpires let that go.

But, again, there’s been no such thing as common sense surrounding these teams recently.

I understand that the umpires need to control the game. And that Holbrook had a lot of pressure on him to carry out that charge. But, for goodness sake, consider the facts, the moment and the precedent.

Heck, Chris Sale wasn’t ejected Tuesday when he threw behind Machado and Bundy wasn’t ejected Monday when he hit Betts. But Gausman is Wednesday after throwing a curveball? It doesn’t matter which team you care about, the inconsistency just doesn’t add up.

Issue a warning to Gausman even if the pitch was benign, I get that. But an ejection in the second inning that changes the complexity of the game?

After the Orioles’ 4-2 loss, Showalter told MASN’s Gary Thorne that Holbrook’s call was “a mistake” and that, “We keep trying to do the right thing, and keep getting screwed.”

Gausman told Thorne that Holbrook’s decision was “a stupid call on his part. … just bush league … a complete joke how they handled” the situation.

See, the thing is, jokes are funny.

This wasn’t funny, however. It was simply head-scratching. Like most of the past two weeks.

Whether you cheer for the Orioles, Red Sox, hate both teams or are charged with being objective due to your occupation, Wednesday night was unsettling, continuing a recent trend.

Baseball should make sense. It usually does. It will again.

Right now, though, it seems like everything involving the Orioles and Red Sox is upside down.



  1. Boog Robinson Robinson

    May 4, 2017 at 7:12 am

    Dan .. at least your article makes perfect sense. But try explaining Ubaldo in relief this early in the season?

    • Boog Robinson Robinson

      May 4, 2017 at 8:03 am

      One thought I missed earlier …. try explaining why the hitting machine doesn’t bat for Rickard with men on base and the lefty Hembree pitching? Doesn’t make sense.

    • Dan Connolly

      May 4, 2017 at 11:05 am

      Ubaldo was emergency. Bleier went as far as he could. Os knew they could get starters up for Thursday — Wilson Ynoa — but needed someone to bridge the gap Wed. And Ubaldo did the job.

      • marcshank

        May 4, 2017 at 1:41 pm

        While I’ve got you, Dan, it would seem, to me at least, that our starter’s performance thus far does not bode well for any decent won/loss record in the first half. I know that both Ubaldo and Gausman are second halfers for sure. But we were still in first place for the majority of the first half last year and it doesn’t look like that will be the case this year.

        Do you see any pitcher coming through the first half that will keep the other teams honest? I am praying that person is Tillman, but even he takes a while to get started. How about Asher? Or Miley, who’s starting off pretty well. What do you think, if you would?


  2. Peejdoming

    May 4, 2017 at 7:38 am

    Your article is everything that makes baseball still make sense. Its been a weird 10 days like you wrote.
    I completely relate to the 2nd and 3rd paragraphs and shook my head that Sale was still allowed to continue to pitch and when he went into the dugout after the 1st inning ended you could see him smiling and getting high fived by all of his teamates they were all smiling and laughing.

    • Dan Connolly

      May 4, 2017 at 11:13 am

      That was a headscratcher. Especially given the Gausman decision the next day.

  3. woody

    May 4, 2017 at 7:53 am

    Boog – I think Buck had four options. 1) Let Bleier pitch the rest of the game and hope he didn’t hurt himself. 2) Use our bullpen as usual and materially impact our chances of winning over the next 10 days 3) scratch out a couple of innings with Chris Davis, Ryan Flaherty and whoever else fancied it taking the ball (i’d have let Manny throw a few, but I acknowledge i’m not a peacemaker) 4) Use Ubaldo. The timing of the O’s rally meant that there was a game that could be won, so using Ubaldo made sense.

    Actually, using Ubaldo – and thankfully he was efficient – means that we could actually get through tonight’s series finale by using either Gausman or Ubaldo, or both. And have a much fresher pen than Boston for tonight and the rest of this stretch. I think it was another masterstroke by Buck, credit to him.

    • Boog Robinson Robinson

      May 4, 2017 at 8:04 am

      OK .. but explain to me why Kim doesn’t bat for Rickard with men on base and the lefty Hembree pitching?

  4. Calvin95

    May 4, 2017 at 7:57 am

    I agree with Buck it doesn’t always work out but Orioles need to continue to be Orioles and do the right thing and put this behind them as quickly as possible like a bad game like they always seem to do. I also hope when Boston comes to Camden Yards that our fans behave and don’t do anything silly and also do the right thing and just cheer for the Orioles.

    • Dan Connolly

      May 4, 2017 at 11:15 am

      Under Showalter, they have shown a tremendous ability to forget and move on — whether it’s after a controversy or a bad stretch

  5. woody

    May 4, 2017 at 8:14 am

    I can’t argue with you on that one Boog.

    I said at the time, signing Trumbo was unnecessary. We’ve got Schoop batting .300 way too far down the order, Kim on the bench every game, Pedro playing minor league baseball. It makes no sense – Trumbo’s a one trick pony who adds nothing if he can’t guarantee 40 homers.

    You know there’s plenty of people out there that share you’re admiration for Kim’s quality at bats so we should trade him whilst he still has some value. We’ve got him til October, he’s not going to play, he’s not going to extend – and he’s worth something to someone. Apparently Kim can’t hit lefties but i’ve not met anyone who can confirm that…

    • Dan Connolly

      May 4, 2017 at 11:16 am

      I keep meaning to write a piece looking further at what you’re saying, Woody. I will. Just this crazy stuff keeps happening.

  6. 5brooks5

    May 4, 2017 at 8:43 am

    Isn’t Hembree a right-handed pitcher?

    • Boog Robinson Robinson

      May 4, 2017 at 10:54 am

      Yes he is … so why didn’t Kim (lefty) hit for Rickard (punch & judy righty)?

    • Dan Connolly

      May 4, 2017 at 11:21 am

      It’s actually fairly typical strategy. It was only the sixth inning. You’d lose the better D player for 3-4 defensive innings and managers prefer to hang onto their pinch-hitting/running options until later in the game — especially when they’ve already lost one (Gentry for Jones). Plus, in a close game you know Kimbrel will be in so you want at least one lefty available there. In retrospect, yeah, Kim had a better chance. But you don’t want to be caught short with the game really on the line. I have no problem with that one.

      • Boog Robinson Robinson

        May 4, 2017 at 11:45 am

        This is all true, however you’re already down by 2 and it’s not like the O’s have been scoring in bunches lately …or this season for that matter. Kim in left field in Fenway wouldn’t be a terrible liability (of course maybe Mancini in right WOULD be) … but even then, Flaherty could have gone out there to right. In cany case … runners were on base and the opportunity to score presented itself that inning. The O’s needed to get the lead before Boston could bring in their closer. Why carry the extra positional player if you’re not going to use them?

  7. 5brooks5

    May 4, 2017 at 8:50 am

    I agree Dan , the feud makes about as much sense as the state of umpiring in MLB today. From the phantom balk call on O’Day, to the floating strike zones, to the crazy replay system, to the inconsistent way warnings, ejections, and discipline is handed out, it is pathetic!

    • Dan Connolly

      May 4, 2017 at 11:22 am

      Preaching to the choir on this one Brooks. The one that gets me the most is the replay system. Takes too long and is often still wrong. Frustrating.

  8. pjclark4

    May 4, 2017 at 9:04 am

    Just mind-boggling how MLB handled this situation. This isn’t all on Holbrook. Yes, he messed up, but this is on Manfred and Torre for failing to put an end to it after the four balls thrown at Manny in the last series and then the ball from Sale two days ago. They let this fester. They condoned the universally panned “retaliation” by the Sox by slapping them on the wrist after the FOURTH ATTEMPTED BEAN BALL.
    They basically said, “we will let you finish your business, Boston, no matter how idiotic and misplaced it is.”

    They should have suspended Rodriguez and Ferrell (how is he getting off scot free???!!!) immediately. Then Torre should have released a statement saying that it won’t be tolerated, and any further acts of “retaliation” would be met with longer suspensions and larger fines. Over. Done. Baseball can be played again.

    Instead, MLB effectively altered multiple games in favor of the instigator.

    After talking to Manfred and Torre about making sure tensions don’t rise (again, too little too late there, fellas), Holbrook had a terrible day at the job and reacted emotionally. We all have bad days at the job and react emotionally. I’m not giving him a pass. I just can’t throw stones here.

    And yet that is exactly why we have a commissioner and a discipline process. They (should) have the ability to take a step back, analyze the situation, and make not emotional but rather informed, intelligent, level-headed decisions.

    Instead, we fans got a moronic, backwards, pathetic excuse for action from the top.

    Kudos Torre and Manfred for punishing the victims in this.

    Don’t even get me started on his statement about the AJ stuff. Also a complete joke.

    But hey, at least we shaved a few seconds off every few games this year with some rule changes!

    • Dan Connolly

      May 4, 2017 at 11:25 am

      Excellent rant, PJ. Nice perspective.

      • pjclark4

        May 4, 2017 at 12:12 pm

        Felt good to get that out. This feels like a safe place, Dan.

  9. Bancells Moustache

    May 4, 2017 at 9:25 am

    In keeping with my recent heel turn, I have a suggestion; lets fight. At this point things have turned so stupid that the only way I see a resolution is a good old donnybrook on the Fenway diamond. To quote that old sage Peter Clemenza, “these things gotta happen every five, ten years. Helps get rid of all the bad blood”. Just ping someone in the ribs, have the ceremonial shoving match/dance off around the pitchers mound and lets move on with the season.

    • Boog Robinson Robinson

      May 4, 2017 at 11:01 am

      Let’s roll Richie. I’m right behind you & Alan Mills!

    • Dan Connolly

      May 4, 2017 at 11:26 am

      I think the presence of Mills changes the equation. He’s seasoned in donnybrooks.

      • Bancells Moustache

        May 4, 2017 at 12:55 pm

        Admit it Dan, you only responded because you wanted to type donnybrook. Which is fine, because that’s really the only reason I typed the initial comment in the first place

    • Mau

      May 6, 2017 at 1:14 am

      When Boston goes to Baltimore in June Alan Mills should throw the ceremonial first pitch. Every Oriole should crowd the plate. First plink, let the party begin. The Mills family needs to be pre-positioned near the Boston dugout.

      Atrocious work by Torre and MLB.

      Atrocious work by Holbrooke. Ejected a Baltimore pitcher for a loose curveball and the same guy whose racial taunting received national attention earlier in the series. AJ’s ejection is the more curious one to me. I understand the Gausman ejection was ludicrous but AJ’s was almost like throwing a bone to the white folks who were ejected for the taunting. Sort of evened that score. Maybe some bat slippage could correct his behavior.

  10. Marshall

    May 4, 2017 at 10:07 am

    When my wife turned to me last night and said, “This isn’t fun to watch”, it struck hard. It’s a point that hasn’t been discussed in any media I’ve seen. When you’re so frustrated and angry that the best thing to do is turn the channel or not buy tickets, that’s rough. That’s not something people want to experience in their entertainment.

    • Dan Connolly

      May 4, 2017 at 11:27 am

      That’s really the sense I was experiencing as a writer too. Oh well, I believe in baseball, and that it always returns to normalcy.

      • Marshall

        May 4, 2017 at 12:09 pm

        Indeed. Baseball is eternal and marches inexorably on.

        • Boog Robinson Robinson

          May 4, 2017 at 2:28 pm

          Like an army of steamrollers …

  11. twomooks

    May 4, 2017 at 11:52 am

    The words that keeps coming to mind with this series and feud are absurdity and infuriating. I waiver between being perplexed and angry. Even though I am a lifelong O’s fan and not always objective, none of this stuff has made any sense to me either. Given that Machado and Pedroia are good with one another since the innocent slide incident, why on earth has this continued? I get that there’s a baseball code and you protect your own, but this is just plain old foolishness. The Orioles have been taking the high road and they’re totally getting the short end with this. The ejections last night were complete malarkey (to borrow from Caleb Joseph’s passionate response after the game). I need baseball to make sense again too. Great piece, Dan.

    • Dan Connolly

      May 4, 2017 at 3:31 pm

      Thanks Mooks. Yeah, just a really strange vibe around this whole thing for reasons you mentioned

  12. Wade Warren

    May 4, 2017 at 12:22 pm

    why can’t umpires be held accountable for their actions? Both ejections were total bullshit.

    • Boog Robinson Robinson

      May 4, 2017 at 2:30 pm

      Hey Wade … watch your language. “Accountable” is a mighty big word in these parts!

    • Dan Connolly

      May 4, 2017 at 3:34 pm

      Hahaha. Yeah. PG13 bar. Which is weird since it is a bar. Never mind.

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