“Wild thing,” Mitch Williams still might make the heart sing but he has a different effect on youth baseball umpires, he makes their blood boil. It must have been quite the experience for the infield umpire who was making safe and out calls during the 10U Ripken Baseball Tournament to go toe-to-toe, nose-to-nose and brim-to-brim with the former Philly and MLB pitcher, and current MLB Network analyst.
Williams, who had a solid 11-year career in MLB became well-known in the late 1980’s and early 90’s for his long, wild man hair, crazy antics and his control issues that resembled those of Ricky “Wild Thing” Vaughn in the 1989 cult classic film, Major League. Over the course of his career, he played with six different teams, pitched in 619 games and racked up 192 saves. The hard-throwing left-hander is also famous for being on the opposite end of the legendary home run off the bat of Joe Carter in Game 6 of the 1993 World Series. Williams delivered a 2-2 fastball down in the strike zone and watched as Carter belted the pitch into the left field stands, delivering a walk-off home run.
Reports from the youth baseball game in Aberdeen, MD have said that Williams cursed at an umpire following a series of what he thought were questionable calls. Finally, a confrontation ensued and Williams and the umpire faced off in a Major League shout fest that eventually saw Williams ejected from the game. Now, the real fun begins as the finger pointing and blame game have been tossed back and forth between Williams and the umpire. Some have said that “Wild Thing,” Mitch Williams did in fact curse at the umpire, but the story from Williams and his dugout is that the umpire threatened to fight him, saying “pick a time and a place.”
All games in the Cal Ripken Tournament are taped, so a clear explanation and details surrounding the ejection should clear things up a bit once the tape is released. Curiously enough, the tape is being buried at the moment, and until then, it is difficult to place blame upon anyone. At times, tempers can boil over at sporting events, no matter if the players involved are ten-years-old or thirty-years old. Sometimes it can get ugly but it must not be forgotten that these are competitive sports, and at times there can be a major blow up and reaction—sometimes warranted, and sometimes not so.
One thing that seems to be clear is that Mitch Williams did in fact get in the face of and go toe-to-toe with the umpire, but there is no report that he ever laid hands on him. From a series of pictures posted to Twitter, the altercation looks like a gut-wrenching screaming match between two grown men. Yes, it can be seen as inappropriate, especially in a game featuring ten-year-old children, but then again, there is no law or rule that a manager cannot argue a call and engage in a fiery altercation with an umpire. Umpires must have tough skin, and occasionally they will have to feel the wrath of managers and parents, but it is part of the game and part of the sport.
Could Mitch Williams have handled the situation differently? Perhaps, but in a passionate moment he lost his cool and blew a gasket. It happens, and as long as he did not hit the umpire, people must think before they crucify the man. Other cases that see parents storm a field and physically assault an umpire or official is a whole different story, and should be treated much differently than this case. Williams was the manager and has every right to challenge and argue a call, and so far there is no evidence that he did anything wrong, except for taking a child’s game a little too serious. While nothing he did was illegal, it is well known that public figures will draw even greater attention than the average person, so when and if they decide to go toe-to-toe with an umpire, it must be noted that eyebrows will be raised and the super sensitivity of some parents and onlookers will draw a major reaction.
Commentary by JohnnyCaito