Cabrera’s ejection and the warning rule
This is what home-plate umpire Chad Fairchild said after ejecting Miguel Cabrera on strike two with the bases loaded in the third inning on July 28:
“I warned him to stop, but after the second pitch, he began to argue balls and strikes again, and was removed from the game.”
This is what plate umpire and crew chief Brian Gorman said Monday after ejecting Cabrera with two strikes in the first inning:
“He kept arguing about the swing part of it. He was warned and he continued to argue. He was told to stop arguing and continued to argue and he was ejected for continuing the argument.”
The common thread is the warning, and the trigger to give the hook after the warning is issued. What exactly Cabrera said is up for debate.
When asked if Cabrera said anything in particular that escalated the situation, Gorman indicated he did not.
“He just continued to argue the call,” Gorman said, “and after being warned, you’re subject to ejection after doing that.”
Leyland seemed to indicate that Gorman told him Cabrera said a magic.
“The calls were correct,” Leyland said. “But Brian basically [said], Miguel said about three or four times, ‘That’s bull[crap].’ That really doesn’t, in my opinion, warrant an ejection. He wasn’t in his face. He wasn’t throwing his hands up. He wasn’t putting on a big show. I just felt it was a very unnecessary ejection.”
Cabrera seemed to indicate he didn’t say anything to draw an ejection. He definitely seemed to believe he hadn’t been given a warning.
“He don’t say anything to me,” Cabrera said. “I said something else and he threw me out. I think I didn’t say anything to [get him to] throw me out.”
White Sox catcher Josh Phegley didn’t seem to indicate he heard any magic words from Cabrera.
“No, not really,” he said. “I think there were some things said after the pitch was fouled off, the next pitch. But initially he was trying to explain that he didn’t think he went around. He was trying to get out of the way and that was it. It surprised me. …
“I didn’t know he said get out of here and threw him out. I thought he said that’s enough. But it probably helped us win the game.”
And that’s the tricky part about the warning situation: The move to eject Cabrera ended up playing a defining role in a game with playoff implications. To some, that’s on Cabrera. To some, that’s on Gorman.
When asked if that’s a difficult situation given the inning, or whether the rule is pretty clear, Gorman seemed to indicate this situation was no different than others.
“I think all situations are difficult,” Gorman said. “You just have to handle them as an umpire. It’s part of our job.”
Gorman applied the same rule to his ensuing argument with Leyland, who clearly believed that discretion should have been applied given the situation.
“Sometimes they’ll say they’ve had enough,” Leyland said. “But … in this case what I wish he would have done is, even if he takes off his mask and gets adamant, in my opinion, when you do something like that, you say, ‘Look, Miguel, I’m trying to keep you in this game. I don’t want to throw you out of this game, OK? I don’t want to throw you out. But that’s enough.’ And be emphatic about it. And then if he says something, throw him out. He said, ‘That’s enough.’”
Cabrera seemingly is wondering where that line is.
“To me, it’s like I’m shocked now,” Cabrera said. “I don’t know what to expect next time. I don’t know what I have to do next time. To me, to get thrown out two times this year, almost in the same position, in the middle of an at-bat, to me, I don’t know what happened. I don’t know what to expect.”
The result clearly wasn’t something Chris Sale expected.
“I even [said], ‘Thank you,’” Sale said, looking upward. “Not taking anything away from [Ramon] Santiago. He’s a heck of a player, too. The best hitter to ever walk the planet leaving after the first. It doesn’t get any easier after that. You still have to make pitches and stuff because they have a heck of a lineup up and down. Just try to stay on the gameplan and get through it.