In the fifth inning of the Padres’ 14-8 loss to the Rockies on Saturday, San Diego third baseman Manny Machado blew a gasket after getting called out on strikes by umpire Bill Welke. Machado caught a quick ejection for arguing the call and was livid, yelling in Welke’s face and then tossing his bat at the backstop.
The whole affair wasn’t wildly out of the ordinary except for the bat toss, which differentiated itself slightly from similar acts of frustration by baseball players in that it likely came a bit too close for comfort for the fans in the most expensive seats. If Machado had thrown his bat at the water cooler in the dugout, it’d be easier to laugh at, but the one-game suspension that MLB handed down for his actions—“aggressively arguing and making contact” with the umpire—felt reasonable.
Machado denies making contact with Welke, and is appealing his suspension. If it happened at all, it was likely at 0:09 of the above video, and it was clearly only the softest of accidental touches. (The bat throw feels significantly more serious.) But this ordeal, more than anything it could do to Machado’s reputation, has shed light on just how dickish MLB’s Umpires Association can be when faced with an argumentative player. The union has spent today beating the drum about how the one-game ban isn’t enough. It’s embarrassing, and not only because someone representing the umpires made the conscious decisions to type the word “violently” in all caps, use boomer hashtags including “#MakeAnExampleOf” and “#OneGameSuspension,” and randomly tag in Buster Olney. All of these quirks come together incompetently to try to describe Machado in the least flattering ways possible.
There’s a much longer Facebook post, too, which sincerely asks to think of the children.
I don’t know if this statement is the work of a rogue, damaged spokesperson or a conscious adoption of the huffy indignance of police union Twitter accounts, but by claiming Machado’s behavior was so violent and abusive that it disgraces the sport, the umps are only further damaging their relationship with the players who are supposed to be their co-workers. This season has already seen in-game meltdowns from umpires like Ron Kulpa and Angel Hernandez, and this loud, dumb complaint aired for all the world to see will only widen the divide between these two groups.