For umpires, like offensive linemen in football, usually the only time you hear their name is when they do something wrong.
Thus MLB can’t be too happy that Ron Kulpa is dominating headlines after a 14-game slate Wednesday.
Kulpa was behind the plate for the Houston Astros-Texas Rangers game and made his presence felt in the top of the second inning.
He called a low strike with Houston’s Tyler White at the plate despite the pitch being at White’s shins.
That prompted Astros manager A.J. Hinch to come out of the dugout and argue with Kulpa.
Kulpa then tossed Houston hitting coach Alex Cintron for barking at him from the dugout.
Hinch returned to the dugout, and Kulpa then made another questionable strike call on the next pitch.
From the dugout, Hinch shouted, “You can’t keep doing that” — which lit Kulpa’s fuse.
Kulpa tossed the manager, who came out again and got nose-to-nose with the ump. You don’t need to be a professional lip reader to see Kulpa repeatedly telling Hinch, “I can do anything I want! I can do anything I want!”
Ron Kulpa after staring down the #Astros dugout multiple times and throwing out Alex Cintron and AJ Hinch told Hinch twice, “I can do whatever I want.” #TakeItBack #LipReading pic.twitter.com/egW8l6BqvD
— Landry Locker (@LandryLocker) April 4, 2019
Kulpa wasn’t done there, though — he struck again in the third inning. After Astros pitcher Gerrit Cole finished his inning and was walking off the mound, Kulpa instigated an argument with the pitcher for taking too long with his pre-inning warmup.
He then shoved away the Astros catcher with his umpire’s mask for apparently trying to diffuse the situation.
— Tyler Applegate (@t_applegate) April 4, 2019
One of the Astros commentators said, “This is getting out of hand.” The other followed up with, “And there is one constant in all of it.”
That one constant drew the ire of the Astros during the game, which they lost 4-0, and after the game as well.
Hinch was asked about Kulpa apparently saying “I can do anything I want,” and the manager confirmed it while also calling on MLB to take action.
“That’s what he said, and that’s apparently what he meant,” Hinch said, according to The Associated Press. “He’s in charge. And obviously you make a scene I guess so everybody has to pay attention. But we’ll let the league sort it out.”
The loss dropped the Astros to 2-5 while the Rangers improved to 4-2.
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