Bud Selig flexed his muscle today and talked to Ken “The Hawk” Harrelson about his tirade about umpire’s Mark Wegner’s ejections of Jose Quintana and Robin Ventura for allegedly throwing at Ben Zobrist on Wednesday afternoon.
This story has turned into a hurricane in the world of sports; in fact I’m a little surprised how much momentum it built up. Here are the facts that need to be stated:
1 – Hawk is an employee of Comcast and WGN, and those are the only people that should be talking to him about his comments. The White Sox or Major League Baseball do not employ him.
2 – While I think the way he addressed the situation was more like a fan overreacting to a terrible call than a broadcaster he still should be allowed to comment on what’s happening in the game.
3 – Jerry Reinsdorf talking to him is fine because the Sox do approve who broadcasts their games.
4 – Umpires need to be held accountable for their actions, end of story. When is someone going to do that?
While Selig took the time to talk to Hawk he really had business talking to anyone but Reinsdorf if he had a problem. I don’t like Selig and I think he stepped over the line today, but I do understand his trying to protect MLB’s position with the umpires union by stepping in. I shudder to think if they put any sort of gag order on Hawk with threating repercussions. The only gag order they should put on Hawk is to stop him from telling the same Yaz stories over and over again.
At the end of the day, Hawk is a fan in the booth and I know the Sox understand that, which is why he’s there. That’s the attraction to the broadcast for a lot of Sox fans, in fact based on what I’ve heard on talk radio today I’m probably in the minority on my inability to tolerate a lot of his Hawk-isms at this point. I can appreciate him for the fact that he loves the White Sox, but he does wear you down especially when the Sox are not playing well.
Hawk also has a history of riding the umpires for inconsistent strike zones and blowing calls; I say good, someone needs to. Managers are not allowed to comment after a game unless they want a fine; just take a look at Jim Leyland’s comments after the umpire the other night blew a call. He told the writers to write about it, since they had a voice to do something.
I really do not understand why umpires are not fined for atrocious calls; I mean how else are they going to correct this in the game other than instant replay. Now instant replay would have not done any good for the White Sox, but it might have helped the Tigers the other night. I know I’ve been busting Smitty’s chops about instant replay, but if they are not going to put some accountability system in place then I say instant replay all the way.
In regards to umpires stepping over the line like Wegner the other afternoon, well that should be a hearing just as a player gets when he’s suspended. I’m also a little cloudy on why Ventura was thrown out. I thought the manager was only automatically thrown out when a “warning” was issued. I think that was a huge error that did not factor into the game, but it seems to me that only Quintana should have been ejected because there was no warning.
I just hope Hawk will still be able to use his first amendment right in this evenings broadcast, we will know pretty early in the broadcast I’m sure.