Jonathan Papelbon Issued Suspension For Altercation With Umpire

BOSTON, MA - JUNE 04: Jonathan Papelbon #58 of the Boston Red Sox and home plate umpire Tony Randazzo #11 are separated by manager Terry Francona #47 of the Red Sox in the bottom of the ninth inning against the Oakland Athletics on June 4, 2011 at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

Jonathan Papelbon has been suspended three games and fined for his altercation with home plate umpire Tony Randazzo in Saturday's game against the Oakland Athletics. Papelbon has appealed the supsension, and so will be available for this week's series against the New York Yankees.

My immediate reaction is not fit for print.

Let's be clear about what happened here: During Saturday's torturous ninth inning, Jonathan Papelbon and Jason Varitek were growing increasingly upset with what they perceived to be inconsistencies in the outside edge of Randazzo's strike zone. It got to the point where usually cool-headed Tek got himself kicked out of the game.

Then Papelbon threw an outside strike, made what was likely a snarky comment to Randazzo (though he claims it was to Salty) and turned his back, walking to the mound.

That should have been the whole story, except that Tony Randazzo stepped out from behind the plate and walked towards the pitcher's mound, shouting back at Papelbon. The hot-headed closer responded in kind, turning back to and approaching the plate in the process. Then he was tossed, ran up to get in Randazzo's face, and apparently bumping into him in the process.

No, you can't touch the umpires. But the whole thing never would have happened if Randazzo hadn't stepped over the line by coming out from behind home plate. That's the precipitating incident, that's the line that can't be crossed which has the potential to change a verbal exchange into a physical one. Until I hear that Randazzo has been suspended for a week, this is and will remain an absolute mockery of a ruling.

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