Before Wednesday’s game against the Chicago White Sox even began, Toronto Blue Jays hitting coach Guillermo Martinez was ejected for what he said during the lineup card exchange. Two days later, Major League Baseball punished Martinez for his actions.

It was announced on Friday that Martinez would be fined and suspended for five games.

Martinez was continuing an argument from the previous night’s game, where the Blue Jays were defeated 7-6 by the Chicago White Sox in 12 innings. While it was Lance Barrett who ejected Martinez, the main argument was with Doug Eddings, who had a bad night calling balls and strikes as the home plate umpire the previous night.

The sentiment among MLB fans was generally in Martinez’s favor after the suspension was announced.

There are multiple ways to look at this.

One, Eddings did a horrible job on Tuesday night. The easy argument is that a bad game from an umpire is no different than a bad game from a player, which isn’t discipline-worthy. But a pitcher having a bad day shouldn’t do anything to impact the umpires. An umpire having a bad day does affect the players. But umpiring has been a hot topic this season around the league, increasing the calls for robot umpires.

Eddings may not deserve a suspension for having a bad day. But if he has more games like that in the future, he needs to be replaced.

Two, regardless of how correct Martinez was in his argument, physical contact is never OK. The problem is, we don’t see much of it. Since the exchange of lineup cards is rarely televised, the only video we have is of a centerfield stadium camera. For much of the exchange, another umpire was blocking the camera’s view of the argument. So, it’s not clear on that video that contact was even made.

That doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. But umpires when they are contacted tend to resemble LeBron James when he’s touched by a player six inches shorter and 75 pounds lighter. Eddings had no such reaction. We’re not disputing that there was contact. But it wasn’t much.

It may be that MLB is trying to send a message here that arguing during the lineup card exchange isn’t acceptable. Also, since, as the Sportsnet broadcasters detailed, Martinez doesn’t normally do the lineup exchange, this felt premeditated on the part of the Blue Jays.

But, while rare, pregame ejections aren’t unprecedented. Given that and how light the contact must have been, five games does feel steep.

[Jesse Rogers, Umpire Auditor]

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