Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Pity this crew chief

If Hunter Wendlestadt is umping, there's a real
good chance that Ron Gardenhire's getting ejected.
Hunter Wendelstadt and Ron Gardenhire are like fire and nitroglycerin. Bob Davidson— who, I just discovered, grew up in Duluth, which doesn't speak well for Duluth — is probably the worst umpire in the majors. Brian Knight is in his first year as a full time ump.

That is three-fourths of the crew at Target Field for this series. This is probably the kind of umpiring crew one should expect when two of the worst records in baseball meet in late August.  It's not particularly good, and it's pretty confrontational, particularly when the Twins are involved.

Wendelstadt had the plate Monday night, and the odds are pretty good when Wendelstadt has that many calls to make that Gardy's going to be ejected. Gardy was (eighth inning); so was Danny Valencia in the same at-bat. I could tell from my seat more than 300 feet from home plate halfway through the at-bat that Valencia was (a) not going to get a call from Wendelstadt and (b) there was a pretty good chance that somebody was leaving the game. (Note: It's seldom the umpire.)

One thing that I took note of: When Valencia was ejected, Gardenhire (of course) popped out of the dugout, and crew chief Jerry Layne came in from second base. Layne had to know this was coming — there's no way for Wendelstadt and Gardenhire to get through a four-game series peacefully — and I'm sure he wanted to defuse the situation quickly if possible. (It's also possible that there are such conflicting reports coming back to the commissioner's office on the Wendelstadt-Gardenhire confrontations that they now want Layne to witness.)

Meanwhile, Davidson was down a third base feeling neglected. Expect "Balkin' Bob" to take action at somepoint to make sure we all know he's around. Valencia and Gardenhire were the first ejections of this series. They will not be the last.

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