With the Cubs sunk in an eight-game losing streak and trailing 3-1 - not to mention three touchdowns under .500 - Steve Clevenger's ejection in the fifth inning of Thursday's 5-3 win against Cincinnati for arguing balls and strikes was, on one hand, a welcome site.
Clevenger yelled and pointed at home-plate umpire Jeff Nelson. Nelson stuck his head right back in Clevenger's face. It was dramatic. It was entertaining. It was something.
If only Clevenger weren't the catcher.
Call it growing pains or just a mental lapse, but Clevenger's decision to speak his mind mid-at-bat to the man who calls balls and strikes for his own pitchers, too, showed how young and raw this Cubs team is.
The 26-year-old argued that the pitch Nelson called a strike was in the same spot as the previous pitch, which Nelson called a ball.
"I felt the ball was outside, and the next pitch was the same exact pitch, I thought," Clevenger said. "He called it a ball. As a hitter, you can't hit like that (when) you don't know whether he's going to call a strike or ball. You can't hit like that."
TV replays showed the ball was well outside, even farther off the plate than the previous pitch, in fact.
But regardless of how calls affect his hitting, the Cubs want Clevenger thinking more like a catcher. Cubs manager Dale Sveum said after the game that a catcher needs to show more composure than Clevenger did.
Clevenger knew that, too, and apologized to Sveum after the game.
"I can't get ejected in that situation," Clevenger said. "I went up and apologized to Dale for getting ejected and said, 'Won't happen again. Can't happen.'"
Ejections aren't all that uncommon in baseball, but with a team this young, everything is a learning experience for these Cubs. Clevenger said he'll talk to Nelson, the umpire who tossed him, when he gets a chance later this season.
A catcher getting ejected while batting is a stupid mistake. But if there's any season for stupid, and learning from it, it's this one.