Leyland angry, but off base


Ah, there's nothing like a good rhubarb. Especially when a cranky, old manager is involved:

    Miguel Cabrera's three-run homer had just given the Tigers an 8-7 lead before reliever Matt Guerrier struck out Ordonez, who lingered in the batter's box while disputing the strike. Schrieber put his left hand on Ordonez's back and appeared to gently move him out of the batter's box and toward the dugout. Ordonez -- who did not initiate contact with Schrieber -- immediately took offense, and the argument heated up.

    Leyland, meanwhile, clearly believed that Schrieber had crossed a line by touching Ordonez. Players, managers and coaches are typically suspended if they touch an umpire.

    "Did you see what happened? OK, then you write what you saw," Leyland said angrily. "I don't have to say a word. You write what you saw. And I hope you all got the guts to write what you saw.

    "I don't need to say anything. Write what you saw. I don't need to say a word. If you watched the ... game, then write what you saw."

    Joe West, the crew chief on Wednesday, said he didn't have a comment on the episode, according to the Detroit Free Press.

    It is not clear if an umpire touching a player is a rules violation or a cause for disciplinary action. The Official Baseball Rules has a section called, "General Instructions to Umpires," which includes the following paragraph:

    "You are the only official representative of baseball on the ball field. It is often a trying position which requires the exercise of much patience and good judgment, but do not forget that the first essential in working out of a bad situation is to keep your own temper and self-control."

    The umpire, in retrospect, might have been better off ejecting Ordonez for arguing a strike as opposed to making contact of any kind.

Well, sure he might have been better off. He would have been better off. But watch the video (here) and you'll see that Schrieber's "touching" seems less confrontational than collegial. Less aggressive than paternalistic: "That's enough, son; let's move things along."
Is my characterization accurate? I wasn't there. Even if accurate, does that let Schrieber off the hook? No. But what Schrieber did simply isn't the same as a push or a bump, and Leyland's attempt to draw a precise parallel is simplistic and misguided.