Sunday, May 20, 2012

Brett Lawrie Loses His Cool

Brett Lawrie
Brett Lawrie, 2011. Image: Keith Allison
Earlier this week, we ran a TKN article about a soccer player whose emotions got away from him and helped cost his team the game (Poor Sportsmanship Leaves Door Open For Man City Soccer Victory).
On Tuesday, Brett Lawrie — a baseball player for the Toronto Blue Jays — also lost control of his emotions.
Lawrie was batting, and the umpire made a couple of calls that Lawrie disagreed with.
In Major League Baseball (MLB), there are four umpires including the home-plate umpire. He is the one who decides if a pitch was a “ball” or a “strike.”  The pitcher pitches and when the ball crosses home plate the umpire makes a quick decision as to whether it was a good pitch (called a strike) or a bad pitch (called a ball).
If a batter gets three strikes against him he strikes out. If a batter gets four balls against him he gets a ‘walk’ and is allowed to go to first base.
Lawrie has a reputation for being a fiery guy. He felt that the home-plate umpire robbed him – twice.  The first time, the count was 3-1 (Lawrie had three balls and one strike against him). The next pitch that came in was wide of the strike zone. Lawrie thought the umpire would definitely call it a ‘ball.’ In fact, he was already on his way to first base when he heard the umpire yell “strike!”. Understandably frustrated, Lawrie slowly made his way back to the batter’s box for the next pitch.
(An interesting note here is that a batter should never ‘assume’ a call and take off the way Lawrie did — it’s poor baseball etiquette (against the game’s unwritten rules) because it’s viewed as showing up the umpire. Umpires do not like that.)
On the next pitch, which was high and outside of the strike zone, Lawrie felt really robbed when he heard the strike call. The result was Lawrie being called out on strikes–he had struck out.
Lawrie couldn’t believe what had happened. He began yelling at the umpire. The umpire than ejected him from the game.
Lawrie took off his helmet and threw it down onto the ground. It bounced up and hit the umpire, Bill Miller. For that action MLB handed Lawrie a four-game suspension.
Lawrie is appealing the suspension. Until the suspension is reviewed he is still able to play.
There’s no question that Lawrie had a reason to get upset. He deserves a suspension for exploding on the baseball field. But his reaction was understandable; both pitches were very questionable strike calls.
As a young player, though, and one with tremendous potential, Lawrie is beginning to learn how emotions can influence performance at the major-league level.


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