|Was Walt Weiss sleeping in the dugout?|
Following a called third strike on the Rockies All-Star shortstop to end the inning, Tulo turned to home plate umpire Marvin Hudson and told him what he thought about the call. The field microphones caught Tulo saying that a pitcher couldn't have both sides of the plate, meaning the umpire can give the outside, or the inside off of the plate, but not both. Tulo continued to jaw. He turned his back, and slowly started heading back to the dugout, continuing to talk. Tulowitzki was talking for so long that Rockies first base coach Rene Lachemann was able to stand between Hudson and Tulowitzki.
Even with Lachemann trying to end the discussion, Tulowitzki continued his argument, clearly shaking his head and saying "that's not a strike." The argument, in which both Tulowitzki and Hudson remained 10 feet apart from each other, continued long enough for the TV broadcast to go to commercial break.
Suddenly, upon return to the park, Tulowitzki had been ejected from the game.
The replays showed that Tulo had talked for too long. He had earned his ejection. However, there was an aspect of the incident that was out of place, clearly missing. Throughout the argument, Tulowitzki's bald-headed manager never made an appearance. Walt Weiss, already forced to manage a game without the services of Michael Cuddyer or Carlos Gonzalez, had allowed his All-Star shortstop to get ejected without moving from the dugout.
As anyone who pays attention knows, there is a code in the game. There are unwritten rules that must be followed. One of those unwritten rules is that a manager must stick up for his players with the umpires. Even if that manager believes that the player is dead wrong, he must back him up. Tulowitzki and Hudson's argument lasted far too long for Weiss to not intervene. The heated debate lasted long enough not only for Lachemann to arrive from the first base coaches box, but to fill the role of the noticeably absent Weiss.
The ejection was far from a quick trigger. Hudson gave Tulowitzki plenty of time to state his case and walk away, but he didn't. He kept arguing without Weiss so much as stepping foot out of the dugout.
With his star player out of the game and the Rockies already down a run, Weiss finally got out of his seat and came to talk with Hudson about the ejection. The only question that remained was why it took Hudson so long to pull the trigger.
Weiss never got heated. It was a quick talk and then back to the dugout. Not once did Weiss give off the impression that he was defending Tulowitzki.
The manager, in his first year, has yet to be ejected from a game. If there was a time to cross that one off of the list of firsts, it was on Thursday. The Rockies have been playing lifeless, hapless baseball for well over a month. Their offense has been abysmal and the level that the starting pitchers were performing at has been missing for the past four nights.
Teams that are playing like the Rockies have been need something to give them a spark. They need something to pull them out of their funk and jump start their motivation. Weiss failed miserably.
Weiss should have gone to the plate and made sure that he flung his hat and made a scene. However, Tulowitzki, the Rockies leader, needed to know when to shut his mouth. With Carlos Gonzalez nursing a finger injury that has lingered, and Michael Cuddyer at home dealing with a family matter, the Rockies could ill-afford to lose Tulo in the 2nd inning.
After the ejection, the results were predictable. The debut of Chad Bettis on the mound didn't go as planned, but that is often the case in a Major League debut. Couple that with playing a tough opponent like the Braves, in their home park, and Bettis probably didn't stand much of a chance.
In all, he gave up five runs in five innings. He was working from behind in the count far too much, and ended up walking five batters, which led to some of the struggles. Chalk the first start up to nerves and give Bettis another chance. There is no reason at this point not to, the Rockies are playing for 2014.
There was some positive, however, in an overall forgettable night. In the 2nd inning, a batter before the Tulo ejection, Corey Dickerson did what the Rockies have been missing so dearly. With the bases loaded and one out, Dickerson fought off pitches from Braves starter Julio Teheran. On an 0-2 count, Dickerson fouled off seven more pitches before hitting a deep fly ball to right field that Justin Upton made a great play on, which ended up resulting in a sacrifice fly.
The at-bat was something the Rockies have been lacking for a long time. Instead of getting in a hurry to do something in a clutch situation, Dickerson calmly fouled off pitches until he got a pitch he could drive. Without a great play by Upton, the drive results in at least two runs, and possibly three, changing the course of the game.
However, the struggles continue for the Rockies. It is safe to say that they are no longer in a race for the division. Even going on a run probably wouldn't be good enough at this point, as the Dodgers have proven that their talent and energy is going to be tough to pass.
The Rockies face their next issue, traveling to Pittsburgh to play a Pirates team bent on ending two decades of futility.
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