Ron Kulpa is Public Enemy No. 1 in Houston Astros fandom and even among some baseball-media types still miffed about the dust-up the umpire had Wednesday with Astros manager A.J. Hinch.
Hinch was sent to an early shower, along with hitting coach Alex Cintron, for arguing balls and strikes in the second inning. After Cintron was given the thumb following a strike against batter Tyler White, Kulpa stared into the Astros’ dugout and tossed Hinch one Mike Minor pitch later.
Afterward, Hinch said that the Astros first became angered when Kulpa missed a call in the first inning on a Gerrit Cole pitch to Joey Gallo.
Outrage was sparked during the game and Thursday as media outside the DFW and Houston markets latched onto the incident. SB Nation, NBC Sports, Yahoo and a couple outlets in Boston were among those who showered the hate on Kulpa.
But no outlet had a better picture than the one captured by Bob Booth for the Star-Telegram. Check it out.
Will Kulpa be disciplined? While his rabbit ears and boast of “I can do anything I want” are unbecoming, it’s nothing an umpire hasn’t done before. He missed a strike call, which seems to happen, oh, 10 or 20 times a game, and it’s not as if the Astros were innocent here.
MLB would be opening up a can of worms if he is suspended.
Should Kulpa be disciplined? Sure. Players and coaches aren’t the only ones responsible for the integrity of the game, and Kulpa crossed the line as he baited Hinch.
But instead of suspending him, have a robot ump work his next couple games behind the plate while he makes only fair or foul and safe or out calls.