Madison Bumgarner calls Victor Robles ‘a clown’ after HR celebration

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PHOENIX — The inciting action: Victor Robles hitting a home run off Madison Bumgarner in the eighth inning Saturday night, then pausing to admire it — backpedaling a bit, delaying his trot up the line — despite the Washington Nationals trailing by five runs in an eventual 7-2 loss.

Bumgarner’s reaction in the Arizona Diamondbacks’ clubhouse? “He’s a clown. Golly,” the 32-year-old starter told reporters. “No shame … No shame. Like, it’s 7-1, you hit your third homer of the year and you act like Barry Bonds breaking the record. Clean it up. I don’t care about giving up the run. Hell, we won 7-2, 8-2, whatever it was. It’s frustrating. I’m the old grumpy guy, I know, but that type of stuff — that didn’t use to happen. That’s ridiculous.”

And Robles’s reaction to Bumgarner’s reaction? “When he’s pitching well, he’s able to celebrate and do what he likes to do,” the 25-year-old center fielder said in Spanish through a team interpreter. “It seems like he calls everybody a clown that actually has a big hit or home run against him. If he doesn’t want anyone hitting a home run against him or having any issues with that, then just strike people out or make better pitches to where he doesn’t have to worry about that.”

This wasn’t the first time Bumgarner took exception to an opponent’s behavior. It wasn’t the second or third, either. Remember when, in 2019, Bumgarner yelled at Max Muncy and Muncy told him to fish a home run ball out of the ocean? Or Bumgarner’s run-ins with Yasiel Puig when the Cuban outfielder player for the Los Angeles Dodgers? Or when Bumgarner announced his class on the unwritten rules, available to all players between the ages of 12 and 30?

Okay that last one didn’t happen. But throughout his 14-year career, Bumgarner has believed — and often vocalized — that there’s a right way to play baseball. Those standards have changed in recent years, something that obviously irks him (made evident when he lamented Saturday that Robles’s quasi celebration “didn’t use to happen.”). Robles is just the latest hitter in his path.

Bumgarner, a four-time all star, was right that Robles isn’t having a notable season. The home run was his third, as Bumgarner noted, and raised Robles’s on-base-plus-slugging percentage to .623. And yes, the Nationals were way down in the inning, as they have been for much of their season.

The solo shot put a tiny dent in the final difference. Washington dropped to 31-65. The Diamondbacks, also a last-place team, improved to 42-52. Aside from the homer, Robles singled on a bunt, stole second after Bumgarner had him picked off first, scored on a grounder and had the wind knocked out of him on a diving attempt in center. It was the full Victor Robles experience.

And as he rounded the bases in the eighth, Bumgarner appeared to shout something at him. But if he heard, Robles didn’t flinch or acknowledge as much after the game. Speaking with a small group of reporters, he was more smiley than usual. At a few points of what amounted to a pseudo-serious interview, he even seemed on the verge of cracking into laughter. He started by thanking Octavio Martinez, who was interpreting for him, for throwing great batting practice before the matchup with Bumgarner. He finished by brushing off the whole situation.

“I didn’t hear anything. I was just running around the bases,” Robles said. “And honestly, even if I had, I wouldn’t have reacted. I respect the career he’s had. He has done a lot in this game. He’s earned his stripes, as we would say. He’s a veteran guy. My kind of personality, I don’t take into account that kind of stuff. I don’t react to those reactions or words that come out of him. I just play my game.”

Did he feel like his response to the homer was over the top in any way?

“No, I thought that I was just celebrating a little bit,” Robles answered. “… I was excited. Just like he would be if he had a great inning. He would probably have some kind of little reaction to that, too.”