Friday, July 25, 2008

Minor League Brawl: League President overturns ejections

If you haven't seen the chilling video of the Dayton Dragons/Peoria Chiefs brawl from last night, it's here. It's damn ugly. Julio Castillo, in my view, should not be able to play pro baseball again without a psychological evaluation. Seriously. I've been in a lot of minor league ballparks, and I like to sit behind the dugout. I don't think I should be dodging fastballs. Nor should any of his intended targets inside the dugout.

I haven't seen the game, so I'm going to set aside the in-game controversies involving the umpires (should they have warned, could they have prevented, etc.). It's what happened during the hourlong delay that interests me.

The umpires, Tyler Wilson and Joey Amaral, ejected 15 players and 2 coaches. (Based on the video, that's not at all surprising.) But the Reds and Cubs (parent organizations for the Dragons and Chiefs, respectively) appealed the ejections to Midwest League President George Spelius.

The grounds for the appeal?

They didn't want their pitchers to have to play the outfield that night.


Spelius upheld the appeal and overturned the ejections (except for Castillo). I can see it from his point of view; he needs to keep the major league bosses happy.

However, I wish he'd shown some fortitude and backed his umpires...made the teams play with whatever remaining players they had, or else forfeit.

An ejection is an ejection, and overturning Wilson and Amaral as they doled out discipline on an incredibly difficult (to say the least) situation isn't the way to solve it.

The pitchers will survive one game in the outfield. If that makes life difficult for the Reds and Cubs, they need to take that up with their players who participated in such a horrifying melee, not with the umpires who rightly tossed them.

To allow them all to play that night reveals horribly misplaced priorities...player development over player (and fan, and coach, and umpire) safety. Nobody who is ejected for brawling should get to play that night, whether there's an appeal to the league President, U.S. President, or Pope. Sort it out later if you must, but don't overturn an umpire's ejections, especially when they are so obviously warranted.


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