In a pair of confrontations in a Major League Baseball game Wednesday night, an umpire both pushed one of the players and exclaimed, “I can do anything I want.”
According to SB Nation, the incidents took place during the game between the Houston Astros and Texas Rangers in Arlington, Texas. In the second inning, Astros manager A.J. Hinch came out to argue with home plate umpire Ron Kulpa, following what the manager believed were some unfair ball and strike calls. According to the game’s announcers, Hinch told the umpire, “You can’t keep doing that,” to which Kulpa replied, “I can do anything I want.”
Soon after, both Hinch and hitting coach Alex Cintron were ejected from the game by Kulpa.
Later in the game, Kulpa stood between Astros pitcher Garret Cole and home plate during the pitcher’s warm-ups in order to brush off the plate. After the inning, Cole was clearly upset at Kulpa, at which point the umpire made a comment to him. And when Astros catcher Max Stassi walked up to Kulpa, as if to mediate, the umpire pushed his mask towards Stassi’s chest, in order to nudge him back to the dugout.
During the episode, one of the Astros’ announcers said that he was going to push his mute button, in order to avoid saying what he really thought of the umpire.
After the game, in which the Astros lost 4-0 to the Rangers, Hinch addressed the issue.
“These situations can be handled in a lot of different ways,” the manager said. “We obviously had a disagreement with the strike zone early, both in the top of the first and the bottom of the first… We know that you argue balls and strikes, it’s one thing.”
He went on to say that “we’ll let the league sort it out,” presumably referring to whether Kulpa will face any sanction.
Umpire Ron Kulpa is behaving like a child in tonight's Astros-Rangers game — https://t.co/RNJ9KDLzqX
— Bill Baer ???? (@Baer_Bill) April 4, 2019
According to ESPN, umpiring crew chief Jerry Meals said that Kulpa stood in front of the plate and limited Cole’s warm-up pitches in order to enforce baseball’s new rules about pace of play.
Other Astros players were unhappy with the push.
“I guess umpires can push players now? Right,” Astros outfielder Josh Reddick said on Twitter after the game, while sharing video of the incident.
The Astros, world champions the year before last, are off to a slow start this year, posting a 2-5 record, although the team is yet to play a home game.