Oakland Athletics outfielder Sam Fuld had played in 575 Major League Baseball games without an ejection going into Monday's game against the Baltimore Orioles. Behind the plate, though, was umpire Brian Knight, one of the league's most prolific ejectors. When that unstoppable force (the ejector) met the immovable object (the non-ejected), well, we know who's going to win: Fuld was sent to the showers for the first time in his career after arguing a call in the fifth inning Monday night in Baltimore.
Fuld's ejection can't be undone, but the moment still offers plenty to unpack. He was called out for running out of the basepath and obstructing the throw to first base after a bunt, so at issue are the mechanics of a bunt in front of home plate.
But maybe more important is that Fuld -- by his own admission -- may have failed to scout the man in blue as well as he could have.
There is room for debate; that's obvious from the moment you watch a clip of the play. The broadcasters agree with the umpire right away: "Fuld all in the field there, pretty easy call."
But watch it again. From where Fuld bunts the ball, he runs directly to first base. He may be on the field to begin with, but that's just a function of where he was during/after the bunt. By the time he gets to first base, he's on the chalk.
"I just ran in a straight line," Fuld said Tuesday before the Athletics' next game. "I was bunting, so I was running from the front of the box."
One of the A's catchers might not be unbiased, but he agreed. "If they're running on the grass, you just pelt them and they're out," Josh Phegley said. "He was running on the chalk. I would have just thrown it to the first baseman and he would have been out."
As it turns out, the throw went just to Fuld's left or slightly over his left shoulder, depending on how you look at it, and arrived at the middle of the bag just before Fuld did. But Orioles first baseman Chris Davis, perhaps concerned he was going to get hit on his left hand, dropped the ball. "The ball never hit me," said Fuld. "I don't understand how I could have been in the way."
This could devolve easily into a "he said, he said" argument, but we're still left with the question that imminently got Fuld tossed, albeit with some expletives included. "What am I supposed to do?" Fuld asked Knight twice from first. When Fuld asked the question again, this time "civilly," as he put it, he was tossed. "You should be allowed a civil conversation with an umpire," the player said.
Perhaps what Fuld should have done is consider the umpire.