Tagged: Jonathon Papelbon

Predictions That Did Go Wrong 2.0

We offered our predictions for the 2015 season, and once again missed the target. While we did better than 2014, the 2015 season proved how unpredictable baseball is in the real world. While we try to give our best guesses as to what awaited us in the 2015 season, our predictions were, at their best, only educated guesses. Before we look ahead to the 2016 season, we need to look back at what we got right and what we got wrong in 2015.

Here are our predictions for the 2015 season against what actually happened:

National League East

Prediction

Reality

1 Washington Nationals New York Mets
2 Miami Marlins Washington Nationals
3 New York Mets Miami Marlins
4 Atlanta Braves Atlanta Braves
5 Philadelphia Phillies

Philadelphia Phillies

Harper Papelpon
The confrontation between Jonathon Papelbon and Bryce Harper sums up the Nationals Season. (www.kansascity.com)

National League Central

Prediction Reality
1 St. Louis Cardinals St. Louis Cardinals
2 Pittsburgh Pirates Pittsburgh Pirates
3 Chicago Cubs Chicago Cubs
4 Milwaukee Brewers Milwaukee Brewers
5 Cincinnati Reds Cincinnati Reds

National League West

Prediction Reality
1 Los Angeles Dodgers Los Angeles Dodgers
2 San Francisco Giants San Francisco Giants
3 San Diego Padres Arizona Diamondbacks
4 Colorado Rockies San Diego Padres
5 Arizona Diamondbacks Colorado Rockies
Jose Bautista Bat Flip
Jose Bautista and the Blue Jays played witha level of confidence that some saw as cockiness. (Tom Szczerbowski/ Getty Images)

American League East

Prediction Reality
1 Toronto Blue Jays Toronto Blue Jays
2 Baltimore Orioles New York Yankees
3 Boston Red Sox Baltimore Orioles
4 New York Yankees Tampa Bay Rays
5 Tampa Bay Rays Boston Red Sox

American League Central

Prediction Reality
1 Detroit Tigers Kansas City Royals
2 Cleveland Indians Minnesota Twins
3 Kansas City Royals Cleveland Indians
4 Chicago White Sox Chicago White Sox
5 Minnesota Twins Detroit Tigers
Miguel Cabrera
2015 was not a fun season for the Tigers. (Gregory Shamus/ Getty Images)

American League West

Prediction Reality
1 Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim Texas Rangers
2 Oakland Athletics Houston Astros
3 Seattle Mariners Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
4 Houston Astros Seattle Mariners
5 Texas Rangers Oakland Athletics

Playoffs

Wild Card

American League

Predicted Winner Predicted Loser Actual Winner Actual Loser
Cleveland Indians Oakland Athletics Houston Astros New York Yankees

National League

Predicted Winner Predicted Loser Actual Winner Actual Loser
Pittsburgh Pirates San Francisco Giants Chicago Cubs Pittsburgh Pirates
Jake Arrietta.jpg
The Pirates ran into a buzzsaw named Jake Arrieta in the NL Wild Card. (Stephen Dunn/ Getty Images)

Divisional Series

American League

Predicted Winner Predicted Loser Actual Winner Actual Loser
Toronto Blue Jays Cleveland Indians Toronto Blue Jays Texas Rangers
Detroit Tigers Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim Kansas City Royals Houston Astros

National League

Predicted Winner Predicted Loser Actual Winner Actual Loser
Los Angeles Dodgers St. Louis Cardinals Chicago Cubs St. Louis Cardinals
Washington Nationals Pittsburgh Pirates New York Mets Los Angeles Dodgers

Championships Series

American League

Predicted Winner Predicted Loser Actual Winner Actual Loser
Detroit Tigers Toronto Blue Jays Kansas City Royals Toronto Blue Jays
Daniel Murphy.jpg
Daniel Murphy was a one man wreck crew against the Dodgers. (www.sports.yahoo.com)

National League

Predicted Winner Predicted Loser Actual Winner Actual Loser
Washington Nationals Los Angeles Dodgers New York Mets Chicago Cubs

World Series

Games Won Prediction Games Won Actual
4 games Detroit Tigers 4 games Kansas City Royals
2 games Washington Nationals 1 game New York Mets

We did much better with our predictions in 2015. We correctly predicted 11 out of 30 (36.67%) teams in their final divisional standings. We more than doubled our correct predictions from 2014, when we got only five correct. Amazingly, we were perfect in the National League Central. We had the Pirates correct in making the National League Wild Card game, but Pittsburgh was not able to live up to our predictions and advance. We were correct in predicting the Toronto Blue Jays would advance to the American League Championship Series. We were also correct in predicting the Cardinals and Dodgers would make it to the National League Divisional Series. Neither St. Louis nor Los Angeles advanced to the National League Championship Series, so we will take credit for being correct in our prediction that the Cardinals lost in the Divisional round. The Blue Jays were our team of destiny in the playoffs, as they bowed out exactly when we predicted. Most impressively, The Winning Run correctly predicted the World Series champion would win the championship with four victories. Ok, so maybe not impressive, but technically we were right.

Royals Win.jpg
It is good to be the Champion. (Peter G. Aiken- USA Today)

Injuries, teams aging too quickly, teams rebuilding more quickly than expected, and a host of other issues meant our predictions were not perfect. The Royals’ and Mets’ run to the World Series were exciting to watch as the next generation of young stars in baseball announced their presence. The Blue Jays and Jose Bautista’s bat flip allowed emotions to show through the tension that exists throughout the playoffs. The Yankees ran out of gas and it showed down the stretch and resulted with their loss in the AL Wild Card game. Houston’s rebuilding plan bore some immature fruit as the young Astros were a force to be reckoned with in the playoffs. The Cubs have restored hope to the long-suffering fans from the Northside of Chicago that their year may soon come. The Nationals proved talent alone cannot win a division, much less a championship. A team must have more than just talent if it expects to play meaningful games in October. The Dodgers ran into a Mets team on a mission and bad timing. No one can predict everything in baseball, and teams can try to assemble a World Series winning team, but only one team is able to do so each season.

Our predictions for the 2015 season were better than before, but there remains plenty of room for improvement. As in baseball, we failed more often than we were successful. This was our second attempt at predicting the future season of baseball. Clearly, we learned something from the first year, but we still have plenty to learn. The 2015 season was an exciting year for baseball. Reality is often more exciting than anything we could have predicted. The 2016 season will be more of the same. We look forward to offering yet another round of predictions that are sure to go wrong.

DJ, JJ, JB, & BL

2016 New Year’s Resolution for the NL East

At the beginning of the 2015 season, it looked like the Washington Nationals put together a true World Series contender, if not overall favorite to win it all. The rest of the NL East did not seem like they would even be in the running for a Wild Card spot. Instead, the favorite has a late season collapse and a young rotation tears it up to make a World Series contender out of a dark horse. The NL East doesn’t lack talent but during this offseason many teams gave up a lot of talent, acting like wildebeest carcasses on the Serengeti getting picked apart by vultures.

Don-Mattingly
Don Mattingly should have a longer leash in Miami than he did in Los Angeles. (www.yougabsports.com)

The Moves

The Marlins resigning Giancarlo Stanton didn’t happen in the offseason but picking up new coaching in Don Mattingly and Barry Bonds did. Frankly, it’s a big thing. Mattingly had a good thing going in LA but the Dodgers’ ownership got impatient (You know what I think about impatience for the jackpot while creating excellence. If not, go here – BL). Say what you will about Bonds but he knows how to hit with the sort of patience that got him on base…a lot. Stanton’s contract gave him options in case the Marlins ownership decide to wrench hearts of the fanbase again. However, this move might be a signal for good things to come. If they win another championship, let’s hope the third time’s the charm that things keep going instead of seeing another fire sale. Otherwise that’s strike three and Marlins fans should try to get a high speed train built to Tampa to see baseball.

MLB: Cincinnati Reds at Pittsburgh Pirates
Neil Walker should give the Mets a boost on defense up the middle of the diamond. (Charles LeClaire- US PRESSWIRE)

The Mets had some interior defense and consistent hitting problems during the playoffs. This was still an issue even when they had Ruben Tejada. So picking up Neil Walker and Asdrubal Cabrera brings some depth to the roster so they won’t be caught flat-footed in the future. Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, and Noah Syndergaard all seemed to get blown up through the heart of the infield by the Royals. Walker and Cabrera also bring some steady batting to the lineup. This move addressed the Mets’ biggest weaknesses from the playoffs. It just didn’t do it in particularly spectacular fashion.

The Advice

Washington Nationals

BL – From preseason favorite to dysfunctional mess, the Washington Nationals made the right move in dropping manager Matt Williams who may have gotten a swollen head from being awarded 2014 NL Manager of the Year. This is team oozing talent but unable to tie it together. I don’t think a manager who is taciturn and uncommunicative with the media is a bad thing. The players getting similar treatment and being unable to fathom Williams’s grand strategy is terrible though. Not sure Dusty Baker is the right fit for a city full of political analysts (armchair and professional) either. What we’re probably going to see next season from the Nats is the baseball equivalent of Britney Spears’s recovery from a mental breakdown – lots of WTF moments and hope that things will be put back together again.

Drew Storen
Drew Storen was pushed aside by the Nationals in favor of Jonathan Papelbon, which was part of Washington’s self destruction in 2015. (www.washingtonpost.com)

DJ – Bryce Harper has finally arrived. All the hype and fanfare finally was finally shown to be worth it. The Nationals have the talent but their biggest obstacles to success was team unity. The fracas between Bryce Harper and Jonathan Papelbon is just the most public visual example of the breakdown inside the locker room. The acquisition of Papelbon from the Phillies solidified a position the Nationals already had set with Drew Storen. The arrival of Papelbon was to shorten the game with Storen in the 8th inning and Papelbon in the 9th inning. However, the trade did little other than anger Storen and cause issues in the bullpen. Making unnecessary trades hurt the Nationals in 2015. Storen has been traded to the Blue Jays for Ben Revere, which ends the closer debate and helps to solidify the outfield with the departure of Denard Span. The Nationals need to focus on making trades that make sense toward enabling a stronger sense of the team, not showcase individual talents. I thought we all learned this in little league, I guess not.

Atlanta Braves

BL – No more Shelby Miller. Goodbye to Andrelton Simmons. The Atlanta Braves are cleaning house. This might be the best time for them to do this. The NL East will probably have a rocky 2016 season as the Marlins and Nationals get adjusted to new management and the Mets try not to Mets their season. The Braves need some hitting and I hope they get it.

Shelby Miller frustration
Shelby Miller pitched great in 2015 but got little run support from the Braves offense. (www.abcnews.go.com)

DJ – Shelby Miller was great for the Braves last season, however he rarely got any run support to backup his great pitching. The only major offensive statistic Atlanta was better than their opponents was they struck out fewer times. Atlanta is fully rebuilding. They have traded Adrelton Simmons and Shelby Miller among others in exchange for lots of minor league pitching prospects. Atlanta is trying to regain the magic of their run in the 1990’s and early 2000’s as a factory for producing homegrown pitching. New General Manager John Coppolella has signed players like Kelly Johnson and Jim Johnson to one year contracts, which come the trade deadline they could potentially be used to trade for even more prospects. Atlanta cannot afford to spend big on free agents, they tried this before and it led them to having to completely rebuild. Stockpiling prospects and draft picks is their ticket back to the playoffs.

Philadelphia Phillies

BL – Honestly, the Phillies didn’t need Ken Giles because there’s no point in having a standout closer when you can keep yourself in games to warrant one. Odubel Herrera seems to have some intangible quality that could be dangerous if he could make it more consistent. Ryan Howard doesn’t seem to have much left and I have doubts about Cliff Lee coming back strong from injury. If Lee stays, it would be nice if he and Howard leave a better legacy by helping the younger guys develop into major league caliber players. Surprisingly, there’s a good balance of youth and experience on this team but the pieces aren’t fitting together well. I think it’s an indication of bad locker room leadership but can that really be the only thing they need?

Ryan Howard
2016 could be Ryan Howard’s last season in Philadelphia, his leadership on the field and in the clubhouse could cement his legacy as a Phillie. (www.thegoodphight.com)

DJ – The Phillies did not finish dead last in the standings for all of MLB in 2015 by accident. They did manage to avoid losing 100 games, finishing with a 63-99 record. This however was most likely due to their playing in the NL East, arguably the worst division in baseball. Improving the Phillies is fairly simple, they need to field the ball when it is put into play.  Phillies pitchers allowed the most hits (1,592) and finished second in MLB in both WHIP (1.448) and ERA (4.69). Allowing the opposition to continuously get on base is not a recipe for success. Not all the blame can be attributed to the pitching staff. Philadelphia defensively finished with the second worst fielding percentage in MLB (.981) and committed the fourth most errors (117). This led the Phillies to finishing second in average runs allowed per game (4.99). A team cannot expect to win many games when they are allowing nearly five runs per game. The Phillies are rebuilding, but an easy way to start the climb is simply catch the ball when it is put into play. Building on the fundamentals is always a smart choice.

BL & DJ

The Best of Baseball 2015

2015 has been a wonderful year for baseball.  Baseball has been everywhere from Spring Training and Opening Day to playing catch in the backyard and playing a friendly season of fantasy.  The big moments like the Royals winning the World Series can be just as special as feeling the pop of the ball when it hits your glove.  Everyone experiences baseball differently.  As 2015 comes to an end the staff of The Winning Run wanted to share our best moments from baseball in 2015.

Derek:

Spending three days going through the National Baseball Hall of Fame was the highlight of 2015 for me.  I literally moved inch by inch through the museum, reading every plaque and sign, look at every picture and artifact on display.  Seeing everything from the baseball used in the first game in which spectators had to pay to watch, to the glove used by Willie Mays to make The Catch, to the Hall of Fame Plaque Gallery.  Three days and at least 24 hours may seem like an extraordinarily long time to spend inside of a museum, however when it was time to leave Cooperstown I found myself rushing to finish seeing everything.

Cooperstown Statue

Statue behind the National Baseball Hall of Fame. (The Winning Run)

Visiting Cooperstown and the National Baseball Hall of Fame only increased my passion for the game.  While the museum is just a building and Cooperstown is just a small town, there is something magical about both.  2015 has been a year of transitions for me personally and professionally.  Visiting Cooperstown allowed me to be a kid again, even for a weekend.  Walking through the Hall of Fame with the same wide eyes I have had since I first fell in love with the game only solidified why baseball is and forever will be special.

DJ

Bernie:

Fantasy baseball. I was mesmerized by Madison Bumgardner and the SF Giants in the 2014 World Series and was really excited to get back into watching baseball in 2015. Fantasy was such a pleasure because it helped me keep on track with news and yet had to pace myself to get through the week and season. There were plenty of great baseball moments but the overall winner that made the experiences more enjoyable started with playing fantasy baseball this season.

Infield Lies Trophy

The Infield Lies Fantasy Baseball Trophy. Derek is now the 2 time defending champion. (The Winning Run)

BL

John:

So 2015 is almost over and we think back on what a year it was. That’s a tough assignment when I’m sitting outside grilling in shorts in the last week of December. I should have a baseball game on instead of Christmas lights. But this does aid in recapping my best memory of baseball this season.

GBraves Foul Ball

John’s treasured foul ball from the Gwinnett Braves game on Back to the Future Night. (The Winning Run)

This season was my year of watching it on tv. I did not get a chance to travel and catch any games and only saw a handful of Atlanta and Gwinnett Braves games. A lot happened around the league but I’m going to share a personal trip to a Gwinnett Braves game in June. I remember the day because I was stuck on the stairs watching Max Sherzer flirt with perfection. I took the family to what turned out to be Back to the Future Night at the stadium so it was fairly attended. I got us seats down the first base line but in the outfield part that juts back into the field. I brought my glove this time and was determined to catch a foul even with the pessimist behind me ho thought no baseball could make it that far. As luck would have it a foul came my way in the fourth and I made a pretty spectacular play in my opinion and snagged in on the fly while crashing onto someone who ran into our row. I high fived and showed the girls our souvenir much to their non-caring.

By the seventh they mentioned the silent auction going on for the jerseys the home team was wearing for the promotion, so after conferring with our other writer Jesse, who’s as much a Back to the Future fan as a baseball fan, I decided to try my luck. I brought the older child and found a relief pitcher with no bids. I bid with a few minutes left and had the child stand in front and smile at other potential bidders. This guy was ours. We won, paid and were told to come back so we could go on the field to aquire our winnings. I brought the family unit down, hung out til the final out, and then was allowed on field to wait for our guy and his “game worn” jersey that did all of allowing him into the bullpen without credentials. He autographed the jersey for the girls and even signed my fly ball from earlier.

Back to the Future

Jesse is clearly excited about his new Gwinnett Braves Back to the Future jersey. (The Winning Run)

Even though the game was only seen by the crowd in attendance and didn’t help the standings at all, it brought memories and a story I can share for many years to come. I believe baseball is more than just what is happening in the majors or in the headlines. It’s about experiences and sharing your enjoyment of the sport with the ones you love. I am happy that my best memory of 2015 was personal and shared with my family. Happy New Year.

JB

Jesse:

The best things that I ended up doing and/or experiencing baseball related in the year of our Lord, two thousand and fifteen are as follows (dates and order are questionable at best)  Any pics that aren’t noted as being borrowed from the internets were taken myself or another member of the Winning Run.  Enjoy.

Cooperstown

For such a small town, the amount of fun that I had there was better than I could have expected.  Only thing I’m disappointed about is that I didn’t see the ball that Benny “the Jet” Rodriguez busted the guts out of.

Cooperstown Front

The National Baseball Hall of Fame, Cooperstown, New York (The Winning Run)

The Hall

Walking among the legends of baeball. (The Winning Run)Cooperstown Lake

 

Otsego Lake, a short walk from Main Street and the Hall of Fame. (The Winning Run)

Baseball game for my Dad’s birthday

Managed to score some pretty low seats at the Braves on the 3rd base side for my dad’s birthday.  Just went with my mom and dad.  We were low enough that we were able to see Ron Gant a few rows in front of us.  Sadly, he doesn’t seem to check his Twitter account very often.  I was hoping to get a pic of him and Dad together.

Dad Birthday

 

Jesse enjoying a Braves game with the parents on Dad’s birthday. (The Winning Run)

Seatgeek

In a quote I picked up the pages of history (not sure if it comes from Napoleon or Stalin, don’t care) “quantity has a quality all its own.”  Thanks to the beauty of online retail and a secondary ticket market, I was able to see a MUCH larger number of MLB games this year.  Yay internets.

Braves Lightning

Thunder and lightning on and off the diamond in Atlanta. (The Winning Run)

Braves Sunset

The sky was on fire. (The Winning Run)

Braves America

It is never a bad day if it is spent at the ballpark. (The Winning Run)

Braves Tomahawks

The Force is strong with these Tomahawks. (The Winning Run)

Neon Cancer

After working in an unairconditioned shop in the middle of summer near the exact center of the Everglades (the place was exactly 2 hours from EVERYWHERE in Florida, a true geographic anomaly), I decided to drive to Miami and look for Will Smith.  I didn’t run into him, sadly, but I did manage to go to a Marlins game and have very low seats.  I was probably as close to Ichiro as I’ll ever be, and that was titillating all on its own.  Also, if for nothing else, the bobblehead museum is worth the ticket price.

Marlins Park

Inside Marlins Park, watching Ichiro up close and personal. (The Winning Run)

Bobblehead Museum

The Bobblehead Museum at Marlins Park in all its glory. (The Winning Run)

Minor League Baseball

Minor League Baseball is my jam.  I love the stuff.  I can’t say that there is a better bang for your buck in the entertainment world.  This year I managed to sit directly behind the net at the local team (the Gwinnett Braves), thanks to buying an A/C, I saw a dog act as ball boy AND run the bases (Myrtle Beach Pelicans), and I walked up to a craft beer and unlimited hot dog night (Chattanooga Lookouts).  That was a fun night on the Twitters.  It was a good thing that I was only walking two blocks back to the hotel that night.

Dog Batboy

The batboy for the Myrtle Beach Pelicans at work. (The Winning Run)

Sunset

 

Watching the Chattanooga Lookouts play on a warm summer eveing. (The Winning Run)

baseball Cannon

The Myrtle Beach Pelicans shoot to thrill. (The Winning Run)

Lookouts

Baseball, beer, and hot dogs. What more do you need? (The Winning Run)

Baseball and Beer

Enjoying a lookouts game and a beer. (The Winning Run)

Hot Dogs

No food is more baseball than hot dogs. (The Winning Run)

Infield Lies

Fantasy Baseball has become a great way to sit and talk about the minutia of the day’s baseball awesomeness.  This year I managed to get my girlfriend, and now wife, talked into playing.  Once she got the basics of what should be going on, she became dangerous.  Dammit.

College Ball

I’ve only watched a few college games live, but this year’s first game was at Gardner-Webb University.  Yay baseball’s back.

Gardner Webb

Kicking off the baseball season, watching Gardner Webb University’s baseball team in action. (The Winning Run)

The Playoffs

The 2015 playoffs were some of the most enjoyable to watch in a long time.  I simultaneously wanted the Cubbies to win to fulfil their Back to the Future density (yes I meant “density”.  Watch Back to the Future if you don’t get it), but I longed for the curse to stay in tact at the same time.  Daniel Murphy seemed to be able to do no wrong (until the WS at least).  Then there was the “slide”  Take a look at the pic, you’ll remember it.

Chase Utley Meme

Chase Utley needs to learn how to slide. (MLB Memes)

Apologies

My now son/stepson/boogerface (still working on the naming conventions) confided in me that his favorite team wasn’t the Braves.  Mind you that he isn’t much for baseball, of which I intend to learn him in the ways of the base on balls, but he came to me in a bit of a quiet tone to inform me that he liked the Marlins.  I was a little take aback, UNTIL I heard the reasoning.  His favorite player is Ichiro.  He likes the way he tugs at his shirt when he comes to the plate.  Sounds like a great reason to me.

Hell Froze Over

Citi Field.  It was cold.  We were in the nosebleed.  It was cold.  We rode the 7 train.  It was cold.  It was cold.

Citi Field

Citi Field was strangely cold when the Toronto Blue Jays visited this summer. (The Winning Run)

Fleer

I found a complete set of Fleer baseball cards from 1989 at a Habitat for Humanity ReStore (kinda like a Goodwill for non clothing stuff).  Welcome to the Bigs Mr.Griffey.  Also, I sadly got the edited version of Billy Ripken’s card.  So close.

Griffey Rookie

Ken Griffey Jr., when the Kid was truly just a kid. (The Winning Run)

Fleer Cards

The complete set of 1989 Fleer baseball Cards. (The Winning Run)

My First True Doubleheader

Manage to make it to my first true MLB doubleheader on the last day of the regular season.  That seems like an awesome way to go into the dark dreary non baseball time of year.

Outfield Seats

It’s a beautiful day for baseball, let’s play two. Lots of fans came dressed as empty seats. (The Winning Run)

Christmas

I got a baseball signed by Matt Cain to go along with my ticket from my perfect game.  Time to make a display for that awesomeness.

Matt Cain Perfect

I was at Matt Cain’s Perfect Game, now I have an autographed baseball. (The Winning Run)

NL East

The Nationals didn’t win.

jonathan-papelbon-bryce-harper

Jonathon Papelbon and Bryce Harper might not be best friends. (www.larrybrownsports.com)

JJ

2015 was the most exciting and successful year for The Winning Run.  There was so much in and around baseball that we were able to experience.  Baseball is special in that you can always feel like a kid even when you have played, watched, and followed the game for decades.  While it is impossible to see and experience everything that makes baseball wonderful, we will not stop in our quest to achieve the impossible.  We hope our efforts in sharing our love and knowledge of  the game have added to your enjoyment of baseball in 2015.

Happy New Year,

The Winning Run

The Men in Blue are Human

Fans cheer for players when they get a hit or make a good play.  Fans boo umpires when they make bad calls.  This is just a fact in baseball.  Any umpire will tell you they do not want to be noticed; because if they are being noticed it means they missed a call.  Umpires and players are human.  This can get lost in the heat of competition.  Every team has calls go against them, and teams also get calls that go their way.  Ultimately baseball is a sport played and umpired by imperfect people.

Last week, Phillies closer Jonathon Papelbon had a meltdown on and off the mound.  On the mound, Papelbon blew a 4-1 Phillies lead in the 9th inning.  He gave up four runs on four hits, a walk, and a wild pitch against the Marlins.  After the final out of the inning, and with the Phillies now trailing 5-4, Papelbon heard it from the Philly faithful.  He responded in a less than professional manner by grabbing his gentleman’s region as he approached the dugout.  Soon thereafter, Umpiring Crew Chief Joe West ejected Papelbon from the game for his less than becoming behavior.  The ensuing argument was heated with Papelbon refusing to allow West to walk away.  West eventually pulled Papelbon out of this way, which did nothing to lessen Papelbon’s anger.  Most fans love the in your face arguments which were more or less a staple in baseball prior to replay.  Papelbon vs. West could have been a classic had it been about a missed call and not for the disgusting actions of Papelbon towards the Phillies fans.

Joe West encourages Jonathon Papelbon to leave the field after his ejection. (abcnews.go.com)

Joe West encourages Jonathon Papelbon to leave the field after his ejection. (abcnews.go.com)

While players and umpires should never touch one another, in this case I agree with West’s action, as he was trying to remove the trash from the field.  Papelbon’s actions were reprehensible and his seven game suspension could have easily been much longer, and could cost him millions, West did receive a one game suspension, which I believe was justified, but the message was sent to players like Papelbon; if you want to behave in such an unprofessional and profane manner you will be treated like the fool you are.

Seemingly on the other end of the spectrum from Jonathon Papelbon and Joe West you will find Tim Welke and Bryce Harper.  In Philadelphia, you had an umpire standing up for the fans against a player, in Atlanta you had an umpire standing up against a fan for a player.  The obscenity-spewing fan let Harper have it in the 6th inning of Washington’s Division clinching game last Tuesday in Atlanta.  Home plate Umpire Tim Welke decided the fan should beat traffic and ejected him from the game.  It is not often you see an umpire eject someone not on the field, but it can and does happen.  Just ask Daytona Cubs Organist Derek Dyer what happened when he played 3 Blind Mice after a close play.  Welke stood up from Harper, and all other players who hear it from fans on a nightly basis.  Fans are not untouchable, they have to behave like adults or they will lose the privilege of watching the game in the stadium.  Love him or hate him Harper should be treated like a human being.

Tim Welke isn't afraid to eject you, the fan. (bigstory.ap.org)

Tim Welke isn’t afraid to eject you, the fan. (bigstory.ap.org)

Joe West and Tim Welke brought the human aspect of baseball back into focus last week.  West stood up to a player who clearly views the paying fans as something that does not deserve respect.  When Papelbon continued his antics after his ejection, West showed him as much respect as Papelbon had shown to the crowd.  Welke took the opposite approach.  He took action against a fan who viewed Bryce Harper as something to be harassed and degraded.  Welke stood up for a player and another person when the fan lost touch with reality and aimed his venom at what he presumed was something less than human.  Umpires do not do their job for the accolades.  They generally do not want to be seen, as it often means they were unsuccessful in getting a call right.  However in both the case of Joe West and Tim Welke they were noticed for all the right reason.  Both of these men in blue restored the human aspect of baseball when a player and a fan sought to degrade the other into something less than human.

D