Major league umpires taking crazy to a whole new level

In a way, it’s refreshing to hear that Mike Napoli was ejected from the Red Sox game Sunday for leaving his bat at home plate.

Looking at his numbers this season, I was under the assump­tion the first baseman hadn’t been taking a bat to the plate at all.

All kidding aside, is this a joke? An umpire – in this case, Tripp Gibson – tossed a player from a game for not picking up his bat after an inning-ending strikeout?

Was it because Napoli told him the bat boy was coming to get it … like he always does? I mean that is the job of the bat boy, right, to get the bats.

Watching the replay of the post-ejection fireworks, it’s hilariously obvious when manager John Farrell comes to the realization his guy just got run up for not pick­ing up after himself. I’ll allow you to do your own lip reading.

Hard to believe, this isn’t even the strangest player-umpire confrontation to happen in the last week.

In last Thursday’s game between the Cubs and Dodgers, Chicago starter Jon Lester – re­member him? – got a little an­gry at himself after a pitch that missed its mark. When Lester turned his back after getting the ball, home plate umpire Andy Fletcher went storming out after him.

Thankfully, Cubs catcher Da­vid Ross – hey, remember him, too? – had the sense to get along­side Fletcher, and then get be­tween the ump and mound when he figured out Fletcher wanted to start the first on-field fight between a left-handed pitcher and an umpire who thought everyone was there to see him since 1896. Or something.

Unfortunately, neither team’s manager has the authority to toss an angry umpire from the game.

It seems there’s been a lot more of these incidents in re­cent years – or maybe there are just more people tweeting and blogging and uploading videos to YouTube.

Whatever the case, shouldn’t this be a concern for Major League Baseball? How can the league be OK with an umpire so noticeably looking for a fight?

Does it want players, the guys that everyone actually pays to see, getting tossed for something as silly as leaving a bat at home plate for the bat boy to pick up?

Both these cases do have something in common, border­line pitches, which there seems to be a lot more of this year. It feels like there have been more instances – at bats, innings, even games – where the strike zone, rather than shrinking like MLB wanted at the beginning of the season, has been growing.

Of course, I have no proof of this, other than a funny feeling in my gut that might also mean it’s almost lunch time.

It would make sense for the umps to try to take further control of the strike zone. It’s really the one thing remaining that replay hasn’t taken away from them.

Hopefully, that comes sooner rather than later.

For the time being, the play­ers should probably consider picking up after themselves, just to be safe.

Joe Marchilena can be reached at 594-6478, jmarchilena@nashua telegraph.com or @Tele­graph_JoeM.