Ah, the umpires. No matter whom you play for or root for, the boys in blue are easy targets to catch hell at a baseball game.
Sometimes, however, the masked minions fight back. In this past weekend's American Athletic Conference series between Wichita State and University of Central Florida, one umpire took his vengeance a little too far.
With one out in the bottom of the ninth in the second game of the series on Friday evening, home plate umpire Jimmy Paylor rung up UCF third baseman Andrew Brait on a called third strike. The pitch was a little high but probably a strike at the top of the zone; and after getting called out, Brait said something to Paylor but seemed nonchalant as he walked away. He didn't get demonstrative or get into the home plate umpire's face.
AAC ump to #UCF?s Andrew Brait: ?F*ck you!? ? pic.twitter.com/zlDk03rpOv
— Heartland College Sports (@Heartland_CS) May 21, 2023
Paylor, however, immediately ripped off his mask and said something very pointed to Brait. Though the first line is hard to identify, it appears that Paylor finished his thoughts with an emphatic "F—- you" to the Knights' redshirt junior from Melbourne, Florida.
Brait looked backward for a moment before turning and walking back to the dugout, while nobody else seemed to notice Paylor's expletive and address his treatment of a college athlete except for the announcers, who took exception to it.
"That was unacceptable," one said. "You can see exactly what he said."
So, what was the motivation for Paylor?
It had been a long series already. Thursday's opening game had taken four hours and seven minutes, with UCF winning 16-15 in walk-off fashion. Paylor umpired first base for that game before moving behind home plate for Friday's affair.
Could there have been an altercation during one of the games already that had Paylor ready to snap? There's no indication of that. And even if there had been, it's still unacceptable behavior, as the announcers on the broadcast pointed out. No official should speak to a student-athlete that way. If anything, it's the ump's job to let things roll off their back and demonstrate self-control.
I have to believe that either Brait said something to him so offensive or there was something boiling up inside of Paylor based on what had already happened over the course of two games.
Wichita State took Friday's game 12-7, but the Knights came back on Saturday with a 5-4 win to take the three-game set. The Shockers (30-23, 13-10 American) open the conference tournament today in Clearwater, Florida, against Memphis.
Central Florida (33-24, 12-12 American) defeated Cincinnati in its opening game of the tournament. None other than Andrew Brait hit a solo walk-off home run as the No. 4 Knights defeated the No. 5 Bearcats 4-3 to advance to the winner's bracket.
WALK IT OFF!!!!
ANDREW BRAIT ENDS IT!#AmericanBSB x @UCF_Baseball pic.twitter.com/4BUG2P1c9S
— The American (@American_Conf) May 23, 2023
While Brait rounded the bases and celebrated with his teammates, somewhere Paylor was probably fuming all over again.