Five innings after Milton Bradley was ejected from his second consecutive game by an umpire whose trigger finger seemed a bit quick, Seattle Mariner manager Don Wakamatsu took a stand.
“To me it’s almost like a witch hunt,” Wakamatsu said. “It’s almost embarrassing to me that egos get in the way to a point that they don’t even give a guy a chance anymore. I’m not real thrilled about that whole situation."
Wak was careful not to mention the umpire involved, in this case AAA ump Jon Merry, and he didn't actually say much about big-league umps, per se.
Still, the signal was clear - the Mariners have Bradley's back when they feel their outfielder has done nothing to earn the wrath of the umps.
This time around, club officials sitting behind home plate insist Bradley did nothing outlandish - certainly, there were no histrionics at the plate, after being called out on a third strike.
Are umps watching Bradley more closely than other players? Is there some plan to put him in his place when it comes to arguing with umpires?
Probably not. In both cases this week, the umpire involved was not a big-league umpire. Whatever else they were, they had no previous experience with Bradley - except perhaps what they'd read or been told.
In any case, Bradley may actually be building up sympathy among Mariners fans and teammates who have now seen - or read - first hand about what appeared to be too-quick ejections.
Sadly, however, one has to wonder if MLB in it's infinite wisdom could come down again on Bradley for the ejections. That would be foolish and unnecessary.
A witch hunt, almost.