If you didn’t know that an ejected coach couldn’t speak to the media following their ejection, join the club.

It didn’t cross our mind either.

As the umpires made a mockery of Game 2 of the Super Regional between Clemson and Florida on Sunday, so did the NCAA. With Sunday’s back-and-forth contest being everything and more that you want to see out of a postseason college baseball game, it wasn’t without controversy.

The umpiring crew draped itself in humiliation, ejecting three Tigers players and coaches on Sunday. The first questionable call came when Clemson first baseman Jack Crighton was tossed after rounding third base. Though the inning was over, Crighton approached an altercation brewing on the field. This ejection was based solely on Crighton leaving his position, not on direct involvement in the incident.


This was a baffling decision at best and an egregious misuse of authority at worst. If the umpires were trying to assert control over the game, their methods backfired spectacularly. In high-pressure situations like the playoffs, umpires can exercise some form of judgment. The rules are meant to be applied with context in mind. And a complete lack of understanding of the situation ultimately caused Sunday’s game to spiral out of control.

After Clemson right fielder Alden Mathes hit a go-ahead home run in the top of the 13th inning, the umpiring crew huddled together to see if his actions merited an ejection. Yes, the crew had previously warned both sides, but Mathes slammed his bat down. The NCAA has tried to police bat flips, but this wasn’t anything close to unsportsmanlike conduct.

While the umpires have the authority to discuss the forcefulness of a bat flip, their actions on Sunday went far beyond what was necessary. This ultimately escalated the situation rather than calming it down. Crew chief Bill Van Raaphorst later attempted to explain why Clemson manager Erik Bakich and former longtime manager Jack Leggett, now an assistant with a title of Program Development, were ejected from the game.

The umpires’ explanation paints a different picture.

They repeatedly told Bakich to return to the dugout while discussing Mathes’ bat slam. Meanwhile, Leggett got ejected for yelling and gesturing at the crew from the field, which heated the situation further. Bakich, still outside the dugout, then raised his arms towards the fans, which the umpires viewed as inciting the crowd. With a prior warning for unsportsmanlike conduct, they ejected him, too. His attempt to keep arguing by following the crew chief around earned him a two-game suspension.

Now that you’re caught up after Clemson lost heartbreakingly, the program scrambled to figure out who would talk to the media. They had learned that despite being the face of the operation, Bakich would not be allowed to speak to reporters because of the suspension.

There was a school of thought that Assistant Head Coach and Recruiting Coordinator Nick Schnabel would talk to reporters, but that didn’t transpire.

The onus was on the players, some of whom played their final collegiate baseball game.

Head coaches are expected to face the media, win or lose, which is part of the job Bakich signed up for and is paid handsomely for. But after a controversial call and ejection, he was denied the chance to speak due to his actions. Apparently, his attempt to rally the crowd and argue with the umpires crossed the line.

Make that make sense.

The NCAA’s decision to silence Bakich after his ejection is baffling.

Not only does it deprive reporters of proper and crucial context for a major controversy, but it also creates a transparency issue for the governing body. The umpires’ questionable calls, particularly after Mathes’s near-game-winning home run, overshadowed Florida’s College World Series berth.

Perhaps that’s a stretch, but it’s become a story, and allowing him not to talk to the media becomes a bigger one. You also have to remember that it shuts out the Clemson fanbase. Fans rely on the media relaying post-game comments from their coach to gauge his reaction and leadership after a heart-wrenching loss, especially one shrouded in controversy.

So much for accountability in the face of controversy.

Leaving the narrative solely in the hands of the umpires undermines any aspect of transparency whatsoever. Perhaps the umpires were correct in ejecting the coaches; let’s take that standpoint for a second here. That still doesn’t give reporters, fans or anyone remotely having a stake in this game with anything to chew on here. You get one vantage point and not the one from the coach, who was the only one besides the umpires who knew what was discussed and could offer his interpretation and perspective on such a moment.

Instead, a lack of communication and the Gators marching on to Omaha were all anyone was left with. There was already a failure to communicate with the fans and viewers at home what transpired on the field, leading to two ejections, and that was rightfully called out by ESPN’s Dave Neal, who took the NCAA to task for a complete fundamental failure to have anybody at home informed on the controversy that transpired, as the broadcasters, too, were left in the dark.

With no communication there and silencing Bakich after the game because of a suspension, the entire situation painted a picture of an organization more concerned with saving face than fostering transparency.

The umpires’ lack of explanation, coupled with the NCAA’s decision to muzzle Bakich, should leave everyone, from fans to reporters, frustrated. Essentially, you’re entirely handing the narrative solely to the umpires, who speak to a pool reporter or release a statement on their own accord.

Allowing the focus to shift to a confusing post-game partial media blackout is not only an absolute debacle on the NCAA’s part but also underlines the need for communication and accountability.

And those two factors were non-existent on and off the field Sunday.

[Jon Blau, Chapel Fowler]

The post Not allowing Erik Bakich to speak to media was a ridiculous decision by NCAA appeared first on Awful Announcing.

2024-06-10T14:32:28Z dg43tfdfdgfd