A typical tiff between pitcher and umpire over a ball/strike call took on an extra dimension on Sunday when home plate umpire Tom Hallion and Rays ace David Price exchanged accusations to the media after Sunday's 8-3 Tampa Bay win over the White Sox. Price subsequently took to Twitter to defend himself at length.
The origin of the dispute was Price's penultimate pitch of the game, a 1-2 fastball to Dewayne Wise with two outs in the bottom of the seventh inning in what was then a tie game. To the naked eye and to Fox Sports Florida's Foxtrax pitch location graphic, the pitch appeared to catch plenty of the outside of the plate. Hallion, though, called it a ball, which started Price squawking. Price got Wise to ground out on the next pitch, but while walking toward the dugout Hallion approached him and the two exchanged words, after which Price's anger increased, the Rays' dugout started yelling, and Hallion ejected Tampa Bay pitcher Jeremy Hellickson.
Here's what that sequence looked like on the broadcast:
[mlbvideo id="26683805" width="400" height="224" /]
Price claimed after the game that the eruption came after Hallion cursed at him, telling him to "throw the ball over the [explative] plate."
Hallion denied using the f-bomb, telling Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times, "I’ll come right out bluntly and say he’s a liar. . . I’m denying what he said I said pretty strongly. . . . I said, ‘Just throw the ball.’ That’s all I said to him. . . . I'm just telling you, he's lying. It's plain and simple."
That made Price even more irate, and he sent a series of tweets explaining and defending himself. When a fan asked him what Hellickson did to get ejected, Price tweeted back, "Had my back after what everyone in the dugout heard what [sic] the ump said." When another fan tweeted to him that Hallion said he had lied, Price replied, "Right and the most quiet guy in #mlb got ejected from the game."
He then went on a brief rant against Hallion with the following tweets:
Tom Hallion does not have a twitter account.
In light of the post-game exchange of words, the accuracy of Hallion's call, which did appear to have been incorrect, is irrelevant. Umpires are going to miss ball/strike calls, and that pitch had no impact on the outcome of the game or on Price's performance. I'm not even sure it's really all that important whether or not Hallion cursed at Price. I mean, it's not as if these men are strangers to that kind of language. Yes, it would have been unprofessional for Hallion to have done that, particularly given his post-game admission that Price said nothing to him before his comment, but what's far more significant is that one of these two men is clearly lying about their on-field exchange and publicly assailed the character of the other in support of that lie, and that is far more serious, one that I believe merits a suspension for the guilty party. If I were Major League Baseball, I'd question Wise, White Sox first base coach Daryl Boston, first base umpire Phil Cuzzi and any other non-Rays who were in the vicinity of the on-field exchange to get to the bottom of the incident.