Aaron Boone Gets Ejected For Whatever Some Fan Yelled At Hunter Wendelstedt

It’s a strange and difficult thing being a MLB umpire. The job is even harder to do well than Ángel Hernández makes it appear, and the authority invested in the position is real and integral to the game, but also it is all a little ridiculous—like being a police officer in one of those Richard Scarry children’s books where little bears drive around in cars that are also shaped like little bears. That figure would have some authority in that universe, but you wouldn’t necessarily say that the police bear (or whatever animal) is especially well-respected by the other animals careening around it in their respective hatchbacks. It’s a silly world.

Both the pathos and comedy of big-league umpires comes from how insistently the men in that role refuse to understand it that way. It is for the best that they take it seriously, and it is inevitable that they wind up taking themselves seriously in turn. But while the role is inarguably cop-shaped, the people inhabiting it are at some point also just guys wearing enormous blazers over chest pads, on a baseball field, alternately yelling and getting yelled at for three hours at a time. It wouldn’t look that much sillier if they were doing it while hanging out the window of an umpire-shaped van.

More to the point, it looks like this:

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What we have here is nepo-ump Hunter Wendelstedt ejecting New York Yankees manager Aaron Boone for something shouted by a fan sitting behind the dugout. Oakland Athletics leadoff hitter Esteury Ruiz was hit by a pitch in the first plate appearance of Monday’s A’s-Yankees game, and the Yankees dugout protested Ruiz’s HBP, not especially dramatically; Wendelstedt, who was mere minutes into his workday and already the color of a ripe tomato, began shouting at Boone in a notably more heated register. “Hey,” Wendelstedt barked toward the dugout after calling a first-pitch strike on Tyler Nevin, “guess what?”

This is just not the sort of thing that a grown-up should be yelling at other grown-ups, and neither really was Wendelstedt’s follow-up, “You’re not yelling at me, because I did what I’m supposed to do,” which he clarified was looking to see whether Ruiz had been hit by the pitch. “You got anything else to say, you’re gone,” Wendelstedt said to Boone, who hit him with a thumbs-up and then began to quietly contemplate the day ahead. We know this because the YES broadcast camera stayed on Boone, who was perfectly silent for the eight seconds that elapsed between when Wendelstedt finished warning Boone and when he started ejecting him.

It got louder from there, as Boone stormed out of the dugout hitting a series of gesticulations that landed somewhere between a distressed Jim Harbaugh and the baseline Tim Robinson character. Boone, quite reasonably, yelled that he didn’t say anything. “I don’t care,” Wendelstedt replied. Surprisingly, this did not calm Boone down. He went on to earn his ejection, although on the merits this would have been an interesting test case to see whether an umpire could, simply by changing his footing and turning 180 degrees from his previous stance, throw someone back into a game. All of it was clearly, perfectly ridiculous.

Less clear is what the fan in the blue sweater sitting directly behind the dugout said to Wendelstedt. It must have been pretty pointed, although the fan—you can see him looking around immediately after the ejection, either in feigned search for The Real Loudmouth or to see whether stadium security was en route—didn’t seem to want to repeat it. When the broadcast cameras found him a short while later, he had taken off the sweater. Clean getaways don’t get much lazier, or more contextually perfect.

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