Home plate umpire Manny Gonzalez was forced to leave today's Tampa Bay Rays-Boston Red Sox game in the top of the first after taking a nasty foul tip directly to his mask. Jordan Luplow took a mighty hack at a 94 mph Chris Sale fastball and Gonzalez had no opportunity to brace for impact. He was immediately staggered and needed to be held up by Sox catcher Christian Vázquez before medical staff could arrive at the dish.
Scary scenes. Here's hoping Gonzalez avoided a concussion and any other significant injury. Making sure he received proper attention instead of trying to soldier on was a smart call.
MLB umpires are chronically under-appreciated even when they aren't being openly disrespected but watching them get an overwhelming majority of calls correct at full-speed and full pressure is something one can't stop noticing once they care to notice. Those working home plate also possess a level of bravery and toughness the peanut gallery couldn't begin to understand. That's why players have a tremendous amount of respect for umpires — on full display here — even if an occasional argument spirals out of control.