That’s all that Arizona Diamondbacks outfielder Justin Upton needed to hear before blowing up at the umpire, arguing what was a questionable call. Upton was quickly ejected and had to be restrained by two coaches as he was forced off of the field, leaving the D-backs without their all-star outfielder in the fourth inning of a crucial game against their NL West rival San Francisco Giants.
Some fans moaned that this was another sign of immaturity from the 24-year-old Upton and that he should have kept his cool, accepted the call and beat the snot out of a Gatorade cooler in the dugout. But instead, he immediately got in plate umpire Brian Knight’s face and politely told him what he thought of the call.
Good for you, Justin.
Upton has taken a ridiculous amount of flack this year from both opposing pitchers and umpires alike. He has been hit by a pitch 16 times this season, often without the opposing pitcher being ejected or even spoken to by umpires. During away games, Upton has seen more than his share of bad strike calls that makes me roll my eyes watching the game from home. It’s that obvious.
Seeing Upton finally stand up for himself on Sunday was a good thing. He needs to vent publicly, to show the MLB, its umpires and opposing pitchers that he’s not going to rely on his own pitchers or coaches to do his fighting for him.
While I agree with his temper flare-up, I don’t agree with Upton’s timing. Like it or not, the young man has become a central piece to the D-backs’ success and he has to act like it. Getting ejected in possibly the most important series of the season is not a good move, especially when its against last year’s world champions who are pursuing your spot atop the NL West.
I wouldn’t mind seeing Upton lose his cool a little more often, so long as it is timely. If the D-backs have a solid lead against an opponent and he gets hit, go ahead, Justin. Jaw at the pitcher. Tell him what’s up. Don’t become a mound-rusher, but stick up for yourself.
As the D-backs edge ever closer to the NL West title, Upton will become a bigger target for opposing pitchers. His post-home run pose and bat flip would irk just about anyone and pitchers are a sensitive bunch. While I’m giving Upton permission — like that matters — to fight back, he needs to be aware of the timing of the situation before lashing out and giving the umpire or opposing pitcher a piece of his mind.