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Umpires at Royals game wear white wristbands as part of protest

First base umpire Brian Knight wore a white wristband during the Royals’ game at Kauffman Stadium to draw attention to a protest by umpires around baseball. The umpires’ union decried “escalating attacks on umpires” by players.
First base umpire Brian Knight wore a white wristband during the Royals’ game at Kauffman Stadium to draw attention to a protest by umpires around baseball. The umpires’ union decried “escalating attacks on umpires” by players. jsleezer@kcstar.com

Fans watching the Royals-Indians game on Saturday night may have noticed something unusual.

All four umpires working the game at Kauffman Stadium were wearing white wristbands as part of a protest.

Marvin Hudson, Brian Knight, Chris Conroy and crew chief Ron Kulpa had the white wristbands on the left arms, which umpires around Major League Baseball were wearing. It is in protest of “escalating attacks on umpires,” according to a statement from the World Umpires Association which represents the major-league umpires.

There have been some bad feelings between players and umpires in August.

Earlier this month, umpire Joe West was suspended for calling Texas third baseman Adrian Beltre the biggest complainer in baseball.

On Monday, Detroit’s Ian Kinsler was ejected from a game in Texas for arguing balls and strikes, and he unloaded on umpire Angel Hernandez the following day.

Chris McCosky of the Detroit News asked Kinsler if he was surprised at the quickness of the ejection.

“No, I’m surprised at how bad an umpire he is,” Kinsler told McCosky. “I don’t know how, for as many years he’s been in the league, that he can be that bad. He needs to re-evaluate his career choice. He really does. Bottom line.”

Kinsler on Friday said he was fined for the comments, but the World Umpires Association apparently wanted a suspension.

Here is the entire statement from the World Umpires Association:

“This week, a player publicly and harshly impugned the character and integrity of Angel Hernandez — a veteran umpire who has dedicated his career to baseball and the community. The verbal attack on Angel denigrated the entire MLB umpiring staff and is unacceptable.

“The Office of the Commissioner has failed to address this and other escalating attacks on umpires. The player denigrated Hernandez publicly said he thought he would be suspended. Instead got far more lenient treatment — a fine. He shrugged that off and told reporters that he has ‘no regrets’ about his offensive statements calling for an end to Hernandez’s career.

“The Office of the Commissioner’s lenient treatment to abusive player behavior sends the wrong message to players and managers. It’s ‘open season’ on umpires, and that’s bad for the game.

“Major League umpires hold themselves to high standards. We are held accountable for our performance at every game. Our most important duty is to protect the integrity of the game, and we will continue to do that job every day. But the Office of the Commissioner must protect our integrity when we are unfairly attacked simply for doing our jobs.

“Enough is enough. Umpires will wear the wristbands until our concerns are taken seriously by Office of the Commissioner.”

Pete Grathoff: 816-234-4330, @pgrathoff

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