If you needed any more proof that Matt Chapman is the future face of the Oakland A’s, we got it on Wednesday afternoon. In a bizarre situation, the rookie was ejected during an at-bat for the crime of calmly denying that his team was stealing signs from the opponent. Let’s take a closer look!
Sign stealing was already in the news this week. The Red Sox were caught spying on the Yankees, but the reason it broke baseball’s official rules was because it involved some extra technology. In this case, the Angels (led by rookie catcher Juan Graterol) only accused the A’s of peeking at the catcher whilst at the plate.
Chapman says Graterol thought A's hitters peeking to see where he was setting up and was staring at every hitter as they dug in.— Susan Slusser (@susanslusser) September 6, 2017
Chapman says Angels thought A's stealing signs. Accusations go back a couple games.— Joe Stiglich (@JoeStiglichNBCS) September 6, 2017
Mike Scioscia said Graterol was telling Chapman not to look back at him and glean the pitch location from his body's shadows this afternoon.— Pedro Moura (@pedromoura) September 6, 2017
The issue first began to boil over in the 2nd inning, with Mark Canha batting.
A day after stealing signs was all over the news, sign stealing controversy in the A's game pic.twitter.com/dZjWLcWmq2— A's on NBCS (@NBCSAthletics) September 6, 2017
What happened there?
Mark Canha on the Angels accusing the A's of stealing signs pic.twitter.com/sRKWN3NubJ— A's on NBCS (@NBCSAthletics) September 6, 2017
But that wasn’t the end of it. In the 4th inning Chapman strode to the plate, and before he even saw a pitch the fireworks went off.
Matt Chapman ejected from the game pic.twitter.com/Z0GuwIGc5N— A's on NBCS (@NBCSAthletics) September 6, 2017
Here’s what I see there:
- Chapman steps in, talks to Graterol, but calmy and quietly; not sure who started conversation, but sounds like it was Graterol (via Susan Slusser, S.F. Chronicle)
- Graterol rises up, mask comes off, physically advances toward Chapman
- Mike Everitt (umpire) steps in between, pushes Graterol away
- Everitt has quick word with Graterol, seems friendly
- Everitt turns to Chapman and spends full 10 seconds screaming at him in front of whole stadium
- Bob Melvin arrives and Everitt immediately calms back down
- Everitt and Melvin talk for a while, and then coaches return to dugouts, situation defused for now
- As hitter/catcher/ump begin to congregate around home plate, Chapman keeps talking and Everitt ejects him
My knee-jerk hot take: I have no idea if the A’s were actually peeking at Graterol. I hope they weren’t, but frankly I don’t care much either way. It’s not against the rules, and it’s the catcher’s job to keep the hitter guessing. Pro athletes are always looking for some edge, and I imagine this particular one goes around and comes around over time. What concerns me more is the behavior of the umpire Everitt, which I found to be inappropriate bordering on unprofessional.
To be clear, Chapman deserved to be tossed. Doesn’t matter who was right or wrong about the sign stuff. There was a kerfuffle, it ended, and then he kept on talking. Even though I will later praise him for that decision, it doesn’t change the fact that he crossed the line and earned his ejection. The umpire does have to maintain control and pace of the game.
But I have two major complaints. First, Graterol needed to go as well. He’d been chirping at the A’s all day, and this was his second incident with his second different opponent in just four innings. He also escalated it from calm conversation into jumping up and trying to get in Chapman’s face. He was the instigator of the entire situation, one that did not need to be resolved right there on the field mid-game even if it does turn out it was a legitimate gripe. If the ump wanted to remove disruptive individuals then Graterol needed to be included on the list.
On top of that, what in the actual hell was Everitt doing when he chewed out Chapman? Did he forget who he was for a minute, and thought he was the A’s manager? I don’t care if Chapman is a rookie*, that was several steps over the line. For a full 10 seconds, the umpire loudly berated a player who was just standing there silently, a player who had at no point raised his voice nor shown any physical aggression nor said any curse word.
I cannot express to you how not OK that is. Showing up a player like that and becoming the loudest, angriest person on the scene is a cardinal sin of umpiring, especially right as umps are complaining about the exact same thing happening to them at the hands of players. It’s the kind of blather that makes Joe West one of the worst umps in the sport. Slusser notes that a scout in attendance called Everitt’s display “disrespectful” and said the ump would “never do that with an older player.” As if to prove that point, once Melvin got there Everitt immediately stopped yelling, like he’d been taking it upon himself to discipline a child until a parent showed up.
* By the way, Chapman has played more MLB games than Graterol (60 to 45), which is why you’ve never heard of Graterol before reading this story. For some reason one rookie was allowed to do whatever he wanted all day while the other got yelled at in front of his home crowd.
When all was said and done, here was Chapman’s response. See if you can pick out the exact moment he becomes the official captain of the Oakland A’s.
Matt Chapman on getting tossed from the game ⬇️ pic.twitter.com/XX4QD8Nado— A's on NBCS (@NBCSAthletics) September 6, 2017
Perhaps it’s the 32-second mark, when he really begins to clap back:
Chapman adds Graterol kept staring at A's hitters as if to see if they were stealing signs in box. "A little disrespectful, to be honest"— Joe Stiglich (@JoeStiglichNBCS) September 6, 2017
Or maybe it was the 1:17 mark:
No, no, here it is. The 1:03 mark.
“[Umpire Mike Everitt] said that it had already been handled, and I guess if I thought it had been handled already I wouldn’t have said anything. If it had been handled [Graterol] wouldn’t have been continually staring at us still while we’re getting into the box.”
OOOOOOOOOOOOO SNAP. Matt Chapman is made of liquid T-1000 metal and he does not want to hear your malarkey. Handle your ish or he’ll do it for you.
In this case, that meant showing the Angels he wasn’t going to take any more of their nonsense, and it eventually meant making a grand enough stand to get ejected. I mentioned earlier that he deserved to get tossed once he kept talking too long, but was that an accident? Or was he taking one for the team in the same way a manager would to support his troops? Either way, he got the message across while appearing to be the most professional person on the scene.
Khris Davis says Chapman showed what kind of leader he is. "He may be a rookie but he's a natural at it."— Susan Slusser (@susanslusser) September 6, 2017
Where does all this leave us?
- No idea if the A’s were actually stealing signs. Don’t care, though it would be preferable if they weren’t.
- Either way, the Angels should probably focus on their Wild Card race. Especially since they won most of these games against us anyway, and lost this one because they couldn’t score themselves nor catch the ball in the sun. (No word yet on whether Oakland colluded with the sun.)
- Someone made Juan Graterol the Unwritten Rules Police in just his 46th MLB game.
- Mike Everitt owes Matt Chapman a public apology, not for the ejection but for yelling at him inappropriately.
- Matt Chapman is a leader among this group of rookies.
Oh, and there’s this.
Scout at game tells me he thinks it was actually the Angels sign-stealing today, in top of second. The plot thickens.— Susan Slusser (@susanslusser) September 6, 2017
LOL get it together, Angels.