Home plate umpire slammed for antics during Astros game: ‘I can do whatever I want’

This wouldn’t happen with robot umps.

Home plate umpire Ron Kulpa was blasted for his antics during Wednesday night’s game, in which he ejected two key members of the Houston Astros while defiantly yelling “I can do whatever I want.”

In the second inning, Kulpa ejected Astros manager AJ Hinch and hitting coach Alex Cintron for arguing balls and strikes after consistent chirping began percolating from the Houston bench following some generous calls for Texas Rangers starter Mike Minor.

The confrontation began when Kulpa called a slider thrown by Minor a strike, leading the Astros dugout to begin howling at Kulpa. Hinch came out after Kulpa stared toward the dugout and, at first, no one was ejected and it appeared as if Hinch had helped calm the situation. But soon after Hinch returned to the dugout — before the next pitch was even thrown — Cintron was tossed for continuing his critique of Kulpa, who, even then, kept staring into the dugout.

“There’s nothing for you to see,” Hinch was heard saying to the umpire.

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Hinch again spoke to Kulpa and returned to the dugout. Kulpa returned to staring at the dugout.

A few moments later, Hinch was caught on the microphone telling Kulpa, “You can’t keep doing this.”

Pitcher Gerrit Cole and home plate umpire Ron Kulpa exchange words during the seventh inning.

Pitcher Gerrit Cole and home plate umpire Ron Kulpa exchange words during the seventh inning. (AP)

Hinch then ran over — again — to Kulpa, leading to a fiery exchange and Hinch’s ejection. During the argument, Hinch had to be pulled away from Kulpa by Astros bench coach Joe Espada, who took over as the acting manager.

During the confrontation, Kulpa could be seen unapologetically telling Hinch: “I can do whatever I want.”

Following the game, Hinch addressed Kulpa’s comment.

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“That’s what he said, that’s apparently what he meant,” Hinch said. “I mean he’s in charge. Obviously, you make a scene and I guess everybody has to pay attention but we’ll let the league sort it out.”

Umpire crew chief Jerry Meals, who was working third base during the game, said Kulpa had warned the Astros bench to “knock it off” and told Hinch the same thing when he came out the first time.

“It was all because of the dugout complaining on pitches,” Meals said of the ejections.

Social media lit up following the heated exchanges and ejections.

“MLB umpire Ron Kulpa is trending because he threw 2 coaches out while screaming ‘I can do what I want,” sports reporter and broadcaster Grant Paulsen tweeted. “That should be a source of ignominy. Umpires don’t feel shame, though. They think they are much a part of the game as players. MLB has to do something about it.”

Another user tweeted: “This is absurd. Ron Kulpa at the very least deserves a suspension for this. Absolutely ridiculous behavior and an even worse strike zone.”

One Astros fan joked: “Angel Hernandez is the worst umpire in the league. Ron Kulpa: Hold my cherry wheat IPA.”

The Astros lost to the Rangers, 4-0.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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