Sports

Umpire Ron Kulpa Sparks Twitter Meltdown After Ejecting Astros Manager and Telling Him 'I Can Do Everything I Want'

Home plate umpire Ron Kulpa stole the show for all the wrong reasons on Wednesday night, as he became involved in a heated discussion with Houston Astros manager A.J. Hinch.

With the Astros down 1-0 against the Texas Rangers at the top of the second inning, Kulpa called a strike after Rangers starter Mike Minor threw a first-pitch slider to Tyler White.

The decision looked controversial and enraged the Astros dugout. Clearly unimpressed with being barked at, Kulpa took off his mask and stepped away from the plate, before shouting back at the Astros bench.

Hinch then spoke to the umpire to defuse the situation and his intervention briefly appeared to have the desired effect as Kulpa returned to the plate. However, with Minor set to throw his next pitch, the umpire continued to stare towards the dugout.

With frustration boiling over, Hinch had some words of advice for the 50-year-old. “Don’t look over here,” the Astros manager was caught saying by the field mics and Houston’s broadcast cameras.

Kulpa, however, was having none of it and marched towards the dugout, before ejecting Astros hitting coach Alex Clinton. Even after Minor was eventually allowed to throw his second pitch to White, Kulpa continued his staring contest with the Astros dugout.

“You can’t keep doing it. You can’t keep doing it,” Hinch was picked up saying by the field mics, before he stepped out of the dugout only to be ejected from the game.

A third conversation between him and Kulpa ensued, but it was cut prematurely short by the umpire stressing his authority.

“I can do anything I want,” Kulpa can clearly be seen telling Hinch. “I can do anything I want. That’s right.”

A clip of the incident immediately went viral and prompted calls for Kulpa, who has been an umpire in the majors for over two decades, to step down.

"So we know you argue balls and strikes is one thing. When you get ejected more aggressively, it's disappointing,'' Hinch told ESPN.

The Astros manager also suggested the situation could have been handled differently.

“Everybody has social media,” he said. “Everybody has a broadcast. So everybody knows what happened.''

Umpire crew chief Jerry Meals, who was working third base during the game, told the Associated Press that the Astros’ dugout had been warned to “knock it off.”

The unsavoury scenes were certainly not a good look for the umpire, who had already made a mistake early in the game.

With Astros starter Gerrit Cole pitching against Joey Gallo in the bottom of the first inning, Kulpa missed an obvious strike call. The pitch was clearly a strike, so much so that Cole was already walking off the mount.

To compound matters, the strike would have been strike three for the final out of the inning.

Following Hinch’s ejection, the Astros’ night went from bad to worse as they ended up losing 4-0.

Houston is now 2-5 for the season, while the Rangers moved to 4-2.

AJ Hinch, Houston Astros AJ Hinch #14 and manager of the Houston Astros looks from the dugout as the Astros play the Texas Rangers during the eighth inning at Globe Life Park in Arlington on April 1 in Arlington, Texas. Ron Jenkins/Getty Images

Join the Discussion

Editor's Pick