Angry Yankees feeling victimized by umpire targeting
NEW YORK — Yankees manager Aaron Boone probably can live with being ejected in the sixth inning of Saturday’s 6-5 win over the Cleveland Indians. He knows arguing balls and strikes is against the rules, so heckling plate umpire Ben May from the dugout for a called strike three on Cameron Maybin that looked like ball four was warranted.
As for center fielder Brett Gardner also being thrown out by first base umpire Phil Cuzzi about a minute later just for banging his bat on the dugout ceiling to fire up teammates, that infuriates Boone.
His players were fuming about this, too.
“I think it got taken too far with sending Gardner out of the game,” Boone said. “We’re playing for a lot right now and you can feel that with all of our guys right now. We’re playing for keeps. In watching it back, I think it’s clearly something that they were probably looking for with us.
“I didn’t receive any memos saying that (banging the bat on the dugout) was illegal. (Gardner) wasn’t saying anything. We get passionate in that dugout and I don’t think [Gardner] was doing anything more than that.”
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This was the second time in nine days that Gardner was ejected after Maybin was rung up on a questionable strike three. On Aug. 9 in Toronto, Gardner also banged his bat on the dugout roof, then a minute later he was thrown out when plate umpire Chris Segal wrongly thought he was yelling obscenities from the dugout when in fact it was Maybin.
MLB head disciplinarian Joe Torre attended Saturday’s game at Yankee Stadium to take part in a pre-game ceremony honoring new Hall of Famer/Yankees legend Mariano Rivera, and he did chat with Gardner.
“I have not been told (by Torre) that I can’t hit (the dugout) or make noise,” Gardner said.
No matter, Cuzzi was quick to eject Gardner when it happened again on Saturday.
“I was watching on TV (from the clubhouse),” winning pitcher James Paxton said. “That was interesting. It was just a guy looking into our dugout(and) it seemed like (Cuzzi) was trying to find someone to throw out.”
Maybin was rung up on a 3-2 pitch that looked low and outside after Gleyber Torres hit his second solo homer of the afternoon with one out in the Yankees sixth to increase their lead to 6-4.
With Mike Tauchman in the batter’s box ready to hit following the Maybin strikeout, Boone was thrown out for yelling from the dugout, and that led to the skipper charging onto the playing field to scream at May.
After Boone got in his say and headed to the clubhouse, Tauchman returned to the batter’s box. That’s when Cuzzi left his position to walk close to the Yankees dugout and throw out Gardner for hitting his bat on the dugout ceiling and also eject heckling pitcher CC Sabathia, who is on the injured list.
“It felt like that a little bit of that,” Boone said. “Look, it is our job to play under control and not cross lines because certainly we don’t want players getting kicked out of games. I don’t like getting kicked out of games, but when you’re playing for a lot and locked in like we are, sometimes in the heat of battle you get a little passionate and it can spill over a little bit.”
Now that Gardner has been thrown out of games two weekends in a row, Boone is realizing his players need to be more careful so that it doesn’t happen again, perhaps in a bigger spot … like a playoff game.
“Yeah, if that’s going to be something that gets us kicked out of the game,” Boone said. “We’ll work closely with the Commissioner’s Office and find out what’s acceptable and not and be respectful of that.”
Gardner wants an explanation.
“I’m sure I’ll have a conversation with (Torre) in the next day or two,” Gardner said. “I feel like they were looking in the dugout quite often … and I didn’t think I was doing anything to warrant getting thrown out or even close to being ejected.
“I can understand (Cuzzi) coming over there and maybe telling me to knock it off, you’re making too much noise. But to come over there with kind of the rabbit ears kind of thing and just constantly looking for something, I thought it was pretty quick.”
Randy Miller may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @RandyJMiller. Find NJ.com on Facebook.
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