Major League Baseball needed a good dirt-kicking tantrum, and Miami Marlins manager Mike Redmond delivered on Tuesday night.
Incensed by the unpredictable strike zone of inexperienced umpire Will Little, and unable to stand it any longer, Redmond got ejected in the sixth inning after Adeiny Hechavarria was called out on strikes. Redmond was tossed after barking from the dugout, but he also got his money's worth by getting in Little's face and defacing the home plate area with some dirt kicking.
Here's another good angle of Redmond's sweep, recorded by @CrashburnAlley on Twitter:
The Marlins trailed by three runs at the time and fell 6-5 to the Philadelphia Phillies, so a strike or ball, here or there, certainly could have mattered.
[H]is tantrum turned comical when he kicked dirt and dragged his foot through the batter's box to indicate he thought the pitch was inside.
''I tried to be patient,'' Redmond said, ''but at the end of the day I couldn't watch anymore.''
Redmond's effort might not have been as angry as Earl Weaver's when he used to do it, or as spiteful as Billy Martin's, or as unhinged as Lou Piniella's, but it was pretty good. He'll save some money on the league's fine because he didn't overtly kick any dirt onto the umpire, who looked to be about 15. Little, actually 30, is a part-timer who fills in when tenured umps go on vacation.
For what it was worth, the Phillies thought the strike zone also had taken a leave of absence. Phillies pitcher A.J. Burnett, who played with the Fish earlier in his career, walked four and needed 96 pitches to get through five innings.
''It makes you wonder how many years you've got to pitch to get a call,'' Burnett said. ''They were very, very close, but you put it behind you.''
Ejections are, by rule, supposed to be automatic for dugout personnel when they argue balls and strikes. MLB would say it's because strike zones are subject to an umpire's judgment and games would last all night if players and coaches were allowed to argue balls and strikes at will. But it's also because calling balls and strikes is a really difficult skill to master. It's hard to expect a guy barely out of the minor leagues to have an agreeable zone.
One of these years, MLB is going to embrace technology even more and "help" umpires out — with infrared or psychics or something. MLB might even replace the home plate ump with a computer as the caller of balls and strikes.
Let's see Redmond try and kick dirt on a mainframe! So, let's also enjoy the time we have left for him to kick dirt on a real human. Really, all it means is, "Do better, please."
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