TORONTO - Fourteen times Brett Lawrie has struck out to end an inning this season.
The routine after the third strike, be it called or a swing and miss, is familiar. Bat is dropped, helmet is removed and dropped to the ground and Lawrie takes a mission-oriented walk toward his third base position, removing his batting gloves as he goes.
Thirteen times the routine didn't result in ejection. The fourteenth, at the end of the third inning of what would be a 10-6 Blue Jays loss to Baltimore, was different.
"It was a called strike three; he threw down his helmet and his bat, and was given an equipment fine by the home plate umpire,” said crew chief Wally Bell, speaking on behalf of home plate umpire Dan Bellino. “As (Lawrie) walked away, in (Bellino's) opinion, he flipped the gloves back in a bad manner and that will get an ejection. That's what it was. He threw them back toward Danny in a way that wasn't etiquette in baseball and he was ejected for it.”
Needless to say, Lawrie had a different view of the how the incident unfolded.
“From my standpoint, the at bat was over, flipped my bat down, flipped my helmet down, walked to my position,” said Lawrie. “Apparently you get in trouble for that.”
After the ejection Lawrie watched the replay. His opinion didn't change.
“I had no idea, he had no idea, he threw me out,” said Lawrie. “Apparently he warned me. He gave me a warning, once I watched it on the replay, when I flipped my bat down, I flipped my helmet down, right there and I didn't do anything. I mean, just the way you guys saw it is what happened. I mean, I didn't do anything. I didn't say one word to him, not one, didn't look at him one time and I'm in trouble for that.”
Lawrie was visibly miffed with Bellino's second strike call on the 1-1 pitch from Orioles' starter Chris Tillman. It was a curveball which caught the plate but crossed at the top of the letters. Traditionally, that's a ball. He was rung up on the next pitch.
Manager John Gibbons was tossed and while he wouldn't divulge the nature of his conversation with Bellino, Bell told a pool reporter it was inbounds for Gibbons to come out of the dugout to protect his player. The ejection occurred once the conversation turned to balls and strikes, a no-no in baseball.
Lawrie's older sister, Danielle, 25, took to Twitter to denounce the state of Major League Baseball's umpiring.“The umps these days in @mlb can suck it,” she tweeted. “Some of the worst calls I have ever seen have been this 2013 season. #callthegamerightdouches”
Danielle Lawrie is no stranger to the game. She played for Canada's women's softball team at the 2008 summer Olympics in Beijing and was a college standout at the University of Washington, helping the Huskies to the women's softball national title in 2009.
Approximately an hour later, presumably after getting feedback from the Twitterverse, Danielle continued.“To everyone out there, I'm not saying what my brother did was RIGHT at all, I'm saying these umps are horrific and are not held accountable.
“Players can't continue to sit baak (sic) and just get [expletive] on at bat after at bat….I'd wanna show someone up that's terribe (sic.) #embarrassem”
The events of Friday night are likely to rekindle the discussion on the Blue Jays' sometimes tenuous relationship with umpires.
Jose Bautista led off the inning in which Lawrie would later be ejected. He was called out on strikes and made his displeasure known.
Lawrie, who was suspended for four games following the now infamous helmet-tossing incident of May 15, 2012, wasn't sure if his reputation was part of, or all of, the reason for Friday night's ejection.
“I don't really think about that,” said Lawrie. “Today's a new day. I don't really worry about stuff that's happened in the past. I just take it for what it is and I guess that's just the way it is tonight.”