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Big League Stew

Chris Johnson literally tapes mouth shut to make peace with umpire Jim Joyce

Big League Stew

When you're wrong, you're wrong, and apologizing usually is the right thing to do. Chris Johnson of the Atlanta Braves took that world view a step beyond before a game Sunday by also showing umpire Jim Joyce that he was sorry for an outburst that got him ejected the night before.

Johnson literally taped his mouth shut while standing in the Braves dugout, getting Joyce's attention with the help of manager Fredi Gonzalez, and tipped his cap Joyce's way after being acknowledged. Better to be safe and sorry than only sorry. Umpire-player relations had never been better.

Johnson, who leads the National League in hitting, had been thrown out during the first inning Saturday for arguing with Joyce after strike three. Johnson really lost his temper, actually, throwing his bat and his helmet, and making it obvious with conversation and body language — even as he walked away — that he disagreed with Joyce's calls. Via, Johnson said:

"I didn't feel like I said enough [to be ejected]," Johnson said. "I obviously knew that I threw my helmet down. He let me know that it was an equipment fine, but then he thought there should be a little bit more."

The helmet slam has gotten Johnson in trouble before. He was ejected on May 22 of last year, when he was a member of the Astros, for slamming his helmet while arguing a close call at first base.

Without Johnson in the lineup for the rest of the game, the Braves had their 14-game winning streak snapped at the hands of the Miami Marlins. Given a night to think about what had happened, and the consequences, Johnson obviously returned to the ballpark in a different frame of mind. The Braves are better off with him holding his temper and staying in the lineup. And his quest for a batting title can only be won if Johnson keeps his helmet on his head and his bat in his hands.

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