In the 10th inning of Friday’s Rangers-Yankees game, Kinsler was ejected by plate umpire Dale Scott for arguing balls and strikes.
Three frames later, Nelson Cruz’s leadoff homer won it for Texas, a 6-5.
Kinsler, who was watching the game in a nearby video room, joined the dancing scrum of Rangers on the field. This violated Rule 4.07, which barred him from the field during the game (he rushed the plate as Cruz was circling the bases), and even prohibited him from staying on the bench.
Baseball has dealt with similar rules violations before, notably Mets manager Bobby Valentine returning to the bench after being ejected wearing a fake mustache. (He was fined $5,000 and received a two-game suspension for his troubles. Watch the video here.)
Usually, however, ineligible players return not because they’ve been ejected, but because they’re on the disabled list, and not to celebrate, as did Kinsler, but to help protect their teammates during the course of a fight.
In 1996, Montreal’s David Segui did that very thing—dressing and joining a brawl against the Astros, and drawing a rebuke for his actions from MLB.
More famously, Atlanta’s Bob Horner, wearing a cast on his hand and in the broadcast booth for a 1984 game against the Padres, raced to the clubhouse when trouble started brewing, changed into his uniform and rushed the field to help protect his teammates. (During that game, Horner’s teammates, Gerald Perry, Steve Bedrosian and Rick Mahler, all of whom had been previously ejected, returned to the field for one of the game’s later fights.)
In these situations, the rule makes some sense. The number of active players on competing rosters is always even (save for the occasional discrepancy with September call-ups), and additional veterans joining a fray can skew things.
Kinsler, however, saw little harm in his actions.
“I think it’s a little unreasonable,” he said in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. “It’s not too much common sense. They have the rule in place. They have rules for a reason I guess. I don’t know what the reason is, but they obviously put them in place.”
Update: MLB just rescinded the suspension, admitting, in the words of Aaron Gleeman, “Whoops, nevermind.”