Plate umpire's finger wag got Joe Girardi steamed

Manager Joe Girardi of the Yankees shouts at Manager Joe Girardi of the Yankees shouts at home plate umpire Laz Diaz after Girardi was ejected for arguing a strike call in the eighth inning against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on May 5, 2014 in Anaheim, Calif. Photo Credit: Getty Images / Stephen Dunn

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ANAHEIM, Calif. - With the implementation of replay this season, there was the thought the days of fiery manager/umpire confrontations a la Billy Martin, Earl Weaver and Bobby Cox might be a thing of the past.

And though there's no question such occurrences have dramatically decreased in 2014, Joe Girardi showed during Monday night's 4-1 loss to the Angels, given the right circumstances, what is still possible.

The circumstances came together in the top of the eighth when plate umpire Laz Diaz, known among players as particularly thin-skinned, ejected Girardi after the manager objected to a borderline 1-and-0 pitch to Brett Gardner at the knees that was called a strike.

Girardi said that the pitch itself wasn't the sole catalyst for his eruption, which included a spike of his cap at Diaz's feet and nose-to-nose screaming that had plenty of expletives exchanged.

The primary provocation, Girardi said, came earlier in the game when he disagreed with a strike call on Kelly Johnson and Diaz "gave me the Mutombo," a reference to the infamous finger wag former NBA center Dikembe Mutombo gave players whose shots he had just blocked.

"I'm not a kid," Girardi said. "I don't need to be scolded."

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A day later, speaking in a hoarse voice -- the result of the previous night's yelling -- Girardi was far calmer in discussing the incident.

"It was a frustrating game but you have to move on," Girardi said.

Diaz, who got into it with Russell Martin here two years ago, was at third base Tuesday night, but Girardi didn't expect any carry-over, either Tuesday night or Wednesday night for the series finale.

"I think umpires that have been around long enough have been through enough of them that they realize it's part of the game," Girardi said. "I'm sure Laz will move on and [it's] no big deal."

Girardi, however, was still a bit irritated by Diaz's actions in throwing out reliever Shawn Kelley.

Kelley started the eighth and walked four batters, one intentionally, including Howie Kendrick to force in the go-ahead run. On his way off the mound, Kelley, who admitted he pitched poorly, saying, "I made a lot of bad pitches, it's on me," barked at Diaz.

The umpire, rather than turning away or taking a stroll toward third as some veteran umpires do when a frustrated pitcher leaves the mound, stared at Kelley. He appeared to mouth "keep going" several times, using his hand to shoo at the pitcher as he talked back. When Kelley reached the dugout, Diaz ejected him.

"That's frustrating to me," Girardi said of the gestures. "That bothers me."

After the game, Kelley didn't take the bait from reporters when asked several times about the ejection.

"Everybody saw it," he said. "I'm not going to go there."

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Asked if he thought he was baited by Diaz, Kelley smiled.

"No comment," he said.

Girardi will get fined, as all players and managers are after getting ejected, but he doesn't expect further discipline. He did not talk to anyone from the league office, he said.

"You move on," Girardi said. "It's a new day, it's part of the game."

Girardi paused and smiled.

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"I've heard people complain that there's no arguments now that there's replay," he said. "Well, there was one [Monday] night."

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