Aug 252010

Umpire displays where his head is kept

August 25 Philadelphia Inquirer

“When Greg Gibson was announced as the home-plate umpire Tuesday night, there was a smattering of boos from the still-arriving crowd at Citizens Bank Park.

Before the game began, Gibson again declined the chance to explain his reasoning behind a disputed call in Monday’s 3-2 Phillies loss.

“I can’t talk,” Gibson said, insisting only Frank Robinson, baseball’s senior vice president of major-league operations, could speak.

Following Monday’s game, Gibson did not comment either. “Per MLB policy, we’re not allowed to talk,” crew chief Sam Holbrook said then.

But there is no Major League Baseball policy that restricts umpires from speaking to reporters to explain a controversial call. In fact, it is common practice for umpires to do so – i.e. Jim Joyce after the imperfect game in Detroit, or Bob Davidson following a Phillies-Marlins game earlier this month.

“We are addressing it,” a spokesman from the commissioner’s office said Tuesday.

It’s possible officials will tell the umpiring crew they must honor requests for comment in the future.

Regardless, there was still confusion over the call in the eighth inning of Monday’s game, when Michael Bourn bunted a ball up the first-base line and appeared to run out of the baseline to avoid Ryan Howard’s tag.

Rule 7.08 (1)(a) says the runner’s baseline is established when the tag attempt is made. He may not exceed three feet away from that imaginary line. Gibson told Charlie Manuel that Bourn had not exceeded that limit.

Manuel said he would have liked to hear a further explanation from the umpiring crew following the game.

“I think in your position that you should be accountable,” Manuel said. “But I don’t have anything to do with the umpires. Actually, I don’t like calling out an umpire. I definitely don’t want to do that because I know that that’s a hard job. I don’t know what to say about that.”

Manuel said he wasn’t trying to get thrown out of the game when he ran onto the field. Eventually, it became his goal.

“When he started going to rush me off the field,” Manuel said, “I was going to leave on my terms.””

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