Astros' A.J. Hinch says home-plate umpire told him 'I can do anything I want' before ejection
Multiple Astros were ejected by home-plate umpire Ron Kulpa on Wednesday
An umpire proclaiming "I can do anything I want" on a baseball field is never going to be a good look. And yet, it's what home-plate umpire Ron Kulpa said to Astros manager A.J. Hinch in Arlington on Wednesday night. It was a long one for Kulpa and the Astros, the latter of whom lost 4-0 and fell to 2-5 on the young season. It started early, too, with this going down in the second inning:
Hitting coach Alex Cintron was tossed in that video. One pitch later, another questionable called strike, and Hinch was gone, too. During the exchange, Kulpa could be seen pretty smugly telling Hinch that he can do whatever he wants (the GIF atop this Deadspin post has it pretty clearly). Again, it's kind of true but also a very bad look.
Here's Hinch after the game, confirming what Kulpa said:
Later in the game, Astros starter Gerrit Cole got heated with Kulpa as well, though it was unrelated from the strike zone.
"It was a challenging night for us. Just looking to shower it off," Cole said, via the Associated Press. "Maybe disagreed on a call or two, but that wasn't the major point of issue for me. What he does is out of my control and I need to do a better job of handling my body language. ... I'm just going to leave it on the field. It wasn't with the strike zone."
So what was it? Crew chief Jerry Meals explained to the pool reporter after the game that Cole wasn't following the pace of play guidelines.
"We've been instructed to tell him one more pitch, he ignored that. Threw another one, fine. Ignored it again, wanted to keep throwing," Meals said. "He has a responsibility to come out of the dugout earlier to warm up. He waited until his catcher was ready, which is not what you do."
As noted by Hinch, the league has something to sort out here. Surely Kulpa hears something and the hunch is Hinch, Cintron and Cole do, too.
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