In the event baseball ever gets back to games, imagine some batter disagreeing with the balls and strikes call by the home plate umpire. He turns on the ump and starts swinging his bat violently, never quite connecting but scaring the daylights out of his target.
That would never happen in the genteel game of baseball but it did in the country club game of tennis. What’s remarkable about it is that German star Alexander Zverev, who swung his racket at umpire Alessandro Germani’s chair in a tournament in Acapulco, Mexico last month, played in a Davis Cup match the next week and is in the field at the Indian Wells, Calif. Event this week.
Hey, forgive and forget, right? The guy is No. 3 in the world, you know.
Zverev was not satisfied with one swing of his racket at Germani’s chair, either. The German erupted after a close line call and when the match ended, he approached the chair and nailed it one, two three times, causing Germani to flinch – hey, you would, too – and move his feet out of the line of fire. At that point, Zverev took a timeout in his assault to curse the official and then added one more swat at the chair for good measure.
For this bad boy act, the 24-year-old player was fined $40,000 and forced to forfeit his earnings from the tournament. The subsequent ATP investigation determined that Zverev’s actions constituted a “major offense’’ and tagged him with an additional $25,000 fine and eight-week suspension but those penalties will not be imposed if he behaves himself and is not tagged with further code violations for unsportsmanlike conduct or verbal abuse for one year.
That might be tough to do for a player with a short fuse like Zverev. It should be noted that he did apologize for his behavior, both privately to the official and publicly, admitting that it was unacceptable.
It also was not unprecedented.
There have been a disturbing series of outbursts in tennis lately with players abusing officials. Danil Medvedev and Denis Shapovalov had incidents at the Australian Open. Nick Kyrgios abused and then spit at an official. Karolina Pliskova beat up the umpire’s chair at an event in Rome in 2018 and Medvedev, currently No. 1 in the world while Novak Djokovic stands up for the anti-vaccination crowd, took out his anger on the chair during the 2020 ATP Cup. None of those episodes, however, came as close as Zverev did to the chair ump.
Imagine what they could have done with a baseball bat.