- Buster Olney, Senior Writer, ESPN The Magazine
DETROIT -- Peter Woodfork is Major League Baseball's senior vice president of baseball operations, and he was on the podcast talking about what happens when there are incidents involving umpires. After hearing about the eruption between one longtime umpire and a star player in Chicago on Sunday, I imagined Woodfork's phone blowing up.
If you look at the videotape, there was an exchange of words between the two as Price left the mound after the seventh inning, and then Hallion ejected Jeremy Hellickson. After the game, Price spoke first. From Marc's story:
According to Price, he was walking off the field after the seventh inning of what was then a 3-3 game when Hallion -- with no provocation -- "yells at me to throw the ball over the f-ing plate."
Hallion, informed by a pool reporter of Price's accusation, denied adamantly that he used a curse word.
"I'll come right out bluntly and say he's a liar," Hallion said, voice raised. "I'm denying what he said I said, pretty strongly. I'm just telling you, he's lying. It's plain and simple."
And Price responded to that denial by maintaining that Hallion was the one lying, and pointed to the reaction of his teammates -- including the unlikely ejection of normally mild-mannered Jeremy Hellickson -- as proof.
"I don't know what he thinks he heard, you can ask anybody that was sitting in the dugout and they all erupted as they should have when you hear an umpire speak to a player that way," Price said. "Something has to be done about that, and that's why I told you guys (the media).
"That's terrible. If my own dad doesn't speak to me that way, some frickin' umpire's not going to speak to me that way."
Here's more from Marc:
"I didn't say one word to him, I didn't even look at him. (The other Rays) said he stared me down the entire way into the dugout," Price said. "That's absolutely terrible. You don't speak to people that way. I didn't disrespect him."
Hallion, the crew chief with 20-plus years of umpiring experience, in 1999 was suspended three games for bumping a player.
He confirmed that Price didn't address him, which raises the significant question why he said anything -- curse words or otherwise -- to Price.
"He might not have said anything but he certainly gave enough body language to insinuate that he was" angry, Hallion explained.
And what did he say?
"I said, 'Just throw the ball.' That's all I said to him," Hallion said.
Several Rays who were in the dugout confirmed Price's version of the events, though they wouldn't do so with their names attached, likely out of concern of retribution from other umpires. Manager Joe Maddon, who joked about Hellickson getting ejected, didn't mention the controversy in his postgame comments.
There are television field microphones that often pick up the words said around home plate, so this could be a simple matter for MLB to address. Only one of them can be right in what he said, in calling each other liars, and the party who is wrong needs to be disciplined -- particularly if it's Hallion, because in that case, he would be wrong on two counts: What he said to Price would have been way, way out of line for an umpire, and then he would have exacerbated the situation by calling the pitcher a liar after the game.
Around the league
• Before "Sunday Night Baseball," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez talked about the throwback uniforms that Atlanta and Detroit had used Saturday and had an interesting idea: What if, for a day, all the managers wore a Connie Mack getup, with a suit and a hat?
Of course, the first person all of us thought about in that kind of getup was Jim Leyland.
• Tim Hudson reported that he got a B in the government course he is taking at Auburn as he works to finish his college degree. Hudson has about 35 hours remaining and intends to continue picking away, partly because of his kids: He wants to set an example for them. And he has joked with his 12-year-old daughter that they could graduate at the same time.
Hudson is involved with the Auburn baseball program and probably will be the rest of his life, so getting a degree would give him an even stronger platform with the players.
• The Tigers finished off a sweep of Atlanta with an 8-3 win in the rain, and along the way, Miguel Cabrera hit a three-run homer on a 3-0 pitch for just the second time in his career, John Lowe writes.
It was all art in how Cabrera executed on the swing -- which you can see here, including John Kruk's prediction of a three-run homer before the pitch -- driving an outside fastball deep into the right-field stands, and he was still very excited about it after the game.
But there was one imperfect moment at the end, when Torii Hunter tried to high-five Cabrera and then attempted a hug, and both attempts misfired.
So far this season Cabrera has 26 RBIs in 23 games, and he is well on his way toward accumulating 100 RBIs for the 10th consecutive season.
• It was a really rough weekend for the Braves, but you got the feeling that Atlanta was relieved to finish its brutal 11-game road trip -- which had gone through the cold of Pittsburgh, the snow of Colorado and the rain of Detroit. The Braves go home for a week of games before hitting the road again for another long, 10-game trip, and by the time Atlanta gets back from that West Coast swing, the Braves will have played 26 of their first 41 games away from Turner Field. Here's the upside: Sixty-six of their final 121 will be at home.
• The Red Sox took care of business against the Astros, and as Scott Lauber writes, the Boston players have taken on a new gesture. From his piece:
After banging an RBI double off The Wall, Mike Carp stood on second base, turned to face the dugout and flexed both biceps -- a nod to outfielder Jonny Gomes, who struck the pose after his eighth-inning double April 20 in the first game played at Fenway Park following the Marathon bombings and the Watertown manhunt.
Gomes may have been first to invoke "The Flex," symbolic of the "Boston Strong" rallying cry and captured on the cover of Sports Illustrated last week, but it has been copied by others. First baseman Mike Napoli was spotted doing it after hitting a double Friday night, and Carp took his turn yesterday.
"If it makes the cover of SI, I'm sure it's going to friggin' stick," Gomes said after the Red Sox won their fifth consecutive game and tied a franchise record with 18 April victories. "It's kind of international, Boston as a whole. Granted, she's still just a flex, but I think it plays pretty heavy in this area."
• The Twins played well in a series split with the Rangers and continue to hover around .500, better than expected.
From Elias: Kevin Correia hurled eight shutout innings and earned the victory in the Twins' 5-0 win over the Rangers on Sunday afternoon. Correia has now pitched at least seven innings and allowed three or fewer runs in each of his five starts this season. Since the Twins moved to Minnesota in 1961, they have had only three other pitchers who have opened a season with five consecutive starts with at least seven innings pitched and three or fewer runs allowed: Jim Perry in 1965 (first five), Scott Erickson in 1991 (first seven) and Brad Radke in 2001 (first seven).
• The Twins are rolling at all levels, writes Bruce Brothers.
From Brandon Mendoza of ESPN Stats and Info: Kershaw got his 19th career 10-strikeout game Sunday versus the Brewers. Over the past 90 seasons, only five other lefties 25 years old or younger have more 10-strikeout games than Kershaw. However, Kershaw just turned 25 on March 19, so he'll have the rest of the season to add to his total.
Most games with 10-plus K's, LHP age 25 or younger (past 90 seasons)
Sam McDowell: 49
Sandy Koufax: 31
Frank Tanana: 26
Herb Score: 25
Fernando Valenzuela: 24
Clayton Kershaw: 19
Vida Blue: 19
Kershaw has allowed three earned runs or fewer in 18 straight starts, the longest active streak in MLB. The last time he allowed more than three earned runs was July 24, 2012, when he gave up eight at St. Louis.
Kershaw's performance on Sunday was one of the most dominant by a Dodgers pitcher since the team moved to L.A. in 1958. He became the sixth Dodgers pitcher to record a threshold of 12 K's, no walks and no runs allowed during that span. Only Sandy Koufax has accomplished that feat more with four such games.
How Kershaw won:
A) Kershaw retired 18 straight batters between the second and seventh innings. Of those batters, nine sat down via strikeout and six hit fly-ball outs. The six flyouts were his second-most this season.
B) Kershaw got five strikeouts via fastball, four via slider and three via curve. It was the first time he's had multiple strikeouts using three or more out pitches this season. (He did so nine times in 2012.)
C) Kershaw threw 117 pitches. It was the 12th time he's hit that pitch count or higher in his career. The Dodgers are 8-4 when he goes over 117, and Kershaw has a 1.90 ERA in those games.
Moves, deals and decisions
3. The Reds are calling up Donald Lutz, who has big-time power.
4. Dale Sveum won't anoint a closer.
5. Brian McCann is due back soon, but Evan Gattis is likely to stay with the Braves. The league has clearly adjusted to Gattis, feeding him a steady course of soft stuff away or fastballs above the strike zone, and he is struggling. After McCann returns, Gattis' playing time will be reduced at a time when he probably needs to play more, to learn, to adapt.
6. Nolan Arenado's trip to the big leagues was eventful.
Dings and dents
1. The Indians and Royals exchanged blowouts in a doubleheader.
4. Pat Corbin continues to do good stuff for the Diamondbacks.
5. Oakland rallied for a badly needed win.
6. The Giants have stopped winning.
• The Yankees keep on finding ways to win.
• GM Alex Anthopoulos met with the media and said his team will rise.
• The Texas offense has sputtered.
• The Angels are playing badly, and they're in a bad mood.
• The Phillies thoroughly enjoyed their weekend in New York.
From Elias: Ryan Howard snapped a seventh-inning tie with a pinch-hit double to lead the Phillies to a 5-1 win over the Mets on Sunday afternoon. Howard is now hitting .421 (16-for-38) as a pinch hitter in his career, the highest such batting average among all active players with at least 25 pinch-hit at-bats.
From Elias: Giancarlo Stanton went 3-for-3 with two home runs and four RBIs to lead the Marlins to a 6-4 win over the Cubs on Sunday. It is the 12th time that Stanton has driven in at least four runs in a game since he made his major league debut on June 8, 2010, tied with Carlos Gonzalez for the most such games for any National League player over that span.
• No matter how you count it, Stanton hits them a long way, Tom D'Angelo writes.
• The Mets' offense continues to be a problem.
• The Pirates keep doing great stuff.
• The Brewers' small window of opportunity went away quickly.
• The Padres had a great weekend.
• San Diego third-base coach Glenn Hoffman has been making great reads, writes Corey Brock.
• The Pittsburgh TV market had a "Heidi" situation with the Pirates' game.
• Yasiel Puig was arrested, and the details should concern the Dodgers.
• Larry Herndon got a nice award.
• A Phillies prospect lit it up.
• Vanderbilt wrapped up a sweep of Mississippi State.
And today will be better than yesterday.