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Inside The Anthem Standoff That Nearly Got Tigers' Reliever Ejected [VIDEO]

"Yeah, I wasn't going to lose."

May 22, 2019 - 11:48 pm
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Before the first pitch had been thrown in Wednesday night's game between the Tigers and Marlins, Daniel Stumpf was in danger of getting tossed. 

All because he took an extra minute or so to return to the dugout after the national anthem. 

This has been Stumpf's routine of late, along with fellow reliever Zac Reininger. Like hockey players wanting to be last off the ice at the end of warmups, the two of them wait for the rest of the players to leave the field before they follow. 

Things got interesting Wednesday night when Reininger made an early exit and then Stumpf looked across the diamond to find Marlins pitcher Sandy Alcantara pulling the same stunt. And thus the anthem standoff was on.

"I guess I caught his eye, and I was like, 'Oh, I’m not going anywhere,'" Stumpf said. "So I was like, well, here we go." 

And things got really interesting about 30 seconds later when third base umpire Paul Nauert approached Stumpf and threatened to throw him out of the game. 

"He said to get off the field or he was going to throw me out," Stumpf said. "I thought that was a little much. Worry about balls and strikes. It’s all fun and games."

At the same time, second base umpire Fielden Culbreth was trying to usher Alcantara off the field as well. And that's when Stumpf saw his opening. 

"The umpire was talking to him and I saw him starting to move, so I was like, I’m gonna hang in there. Everyone was yelling at me in the dugout, 'You better not move!' So I wasn’t going to give it up," Stumpf said with a smile. 

He admits it was a risky play. While Alcantara is a starting pitcher and had the night off, Stumpf was available out of the bullpen for the Tigers. Had he been tossed before the game even began -- "I think Gardy might have been a little upset," Stumpf said. 

He said his heart started racing when Nauert issued his threat. But Stumpf stuck it out, with his teammates imploring him to stand strong. Meanwhile, Alcantara's teammates, including Curtis Granderson, decked him out in catcher's gear.

Stumpf watched it all go down with a grin on his face. At one point, Nicholas Castellanos brought him a cup of water. It wasn't clear who would blink first. 

"I was kind of ignoring the umpire a little bit," Stumpf said. "Saw him over there talking to (Alcantara), he started to lean back a little bit so I was like, I'm gonna stay and see what happens." 

Eventually Alcantara backed down, and the home team won. The Marlins would get the last laugh, rallying from a 3-0 deficit for a 6-3 victory. 

But let's be honest. In a series between two of the worst teams in baseball, the anthem standoff was the clash that mattered. 

"I just stand out there every time and make sure that everyone walks off. It just so happens today I had someone that did not walk off," Stumpf said. "Yeah, I wasn’t going to lose."