Tonight at the Twins game, in the bottom of the 8th, Torii Hunter got in the umpire’s face after he had had it with the bad calls. He got in his face and someone else (possibly Paul Molitor… you never can tell from the 300 level of the stadium) had to hold him back from the guy. Torii then stormed towards the dugout, then turned and threw his hat, threw his glove, then threw his jersey. The stadium cheered because we always want to believe that we’ve been wronged when the umpires call it against us.
I didn’t really know how to respond to that. I was disappointed in him initially. Come on, will that really do anything? Baseball players are known for being the good boys of major league sports. You see so many fewer arrests and scandals, unless we’re talking A-Rod.
I was sitting in 323, hundreds of feet away from home plate where the umpire was making his sketchy calls. So, don’t take my word for it. If it comes out that they were perfectly in the clear, whatever. But a good number of those “strikes” looked awfully low to the ground, and somehow they managed to never rule in our favor on the questionable plays. Could be legitimate.
Whatever the case, Hunter had had enough. He was through – and he knew his only way to make a statement about it was to throw himself out of the game. It was like he was saying, If this is the way baseball is going to go, I don’t want to be a part of it. I wonder if the same umpires had been making those calls throughout the entire series.
The whole thing was so emotional. I could have shed tears while it happened. It didn’t feel like a diva thing, like a I make thousands of dollars per game, notice me! deal. It felt like a guy who was at his end.
I heard a little boy talking to his mom as we walked out to our cars.
“But he’s always so happy!” (little voice, probably 3 years old)
His mom laughed and answered him, totally aware that the people around her were amused, “Yes, he is always so happy, but he got really mad tonight. I guess the umpires were making a lot of bad calls.”
It got me thinking about what it would take for me to throw my glove and my jersey and storm away from something I was really invested in. (I mentioned this aloud as we walked out, and my mom said, “I smell a blog!”)
What would it take? When is it worth it? I’m no drama queen. I don’t like being the center of negative or controversial attention. I’m not even sure I like being the center of positive attention. Most of us are like this, I think. We live day to day without getting up in arms about every little thing because we know it isn’t usually constructive. And we want to make lasting, effective change if we’re going to do it.
But when is it good to throw something, to say with all that you have that it’s not right and you are willing to risk your baseball season (or equivalent) to make a statement?
I hope I’ll know when it’s time. I hope I’ll feel the fire and be ready to take the heat when it’s time to stand up.
I’m not sure I stand behind Torii Hunter completely in his choice of actions tonight. I don’t know what he said to the umpire. I don’t know what the umpire did in response (besides sticking to his call and repeatedly showing the crowd). Maybe there was a better way to handle it. But either way, he’s a reminder that statements don’t have to be verbal. And that sometimes it’s worth taking the heat in order to say something that must be said.