Even though Nick Markakis has always been a reserved fellow, it's still amazing that he has been in the major leagues for nearly six years and had never been thrown out of a major league game until last night.
That says a lot about him on more than one level. I'm sure there are people out there who might think it's a sign that he isn't fiery enough, but I think it's just another indication of how steady and consistent he is -- both on the field and inside his head. He doesn't speak up that often, but when he does, it tends to mean something, as evidenced by his public excoriation of the team earlier this season and last night's outburst at home plate umpire Jeff Nelson.
Obviously, Nick wasn't alone in his low opinion of Nelson's strike zone. Buck Showalter also got himself ejected later in the game.
Outfielder Adam Jones also displayed some frustration, and stood up for Markakis after the game.
"It was frustrating,'' Jones said. "I think Buck said it perfectly. When Markakis says something -- a guy with an eye like that -- go to the tape. He's one of the most mild-mannered guys you can find. If he says something, you know it's got to be something. He doesn't argue much. He's been here six years. He's got one of the best (batting) eyes in baseball. He's frustrated. He's protecting himself. He said something, and he should have."
This has been a very one-sided debate, but not for lack of trying to get the other side of the story. Our baseball writer Dan Connolly went to the umpires room after the game to get a comment from Nelson, but the umpires relayed through umpires attendant Ernie Tyler that they would not comment on the two ejections.
That's their privilege, of course, but it's my privilege to believe that if they are unwilling to support or explain their position, then they probably aren't all that confident that they acted properly. I've covered baseball in parts of five decades and my experience has been that most umpires encourage reporters to give them a chance to comment. Obviously, not this time.
Sun photo by Karl Merton Ferron
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