Anthem standoff goes awry as Weaver, Ray get tossed

September 25th, 2022

KANSAS CITY -- A national anthem standoff between two former teammates went awry Sunday afternoon at Kauffman Stadium when both were ejected prior to first pitch of the Mariners-Royals series finale -- and that was only the start of what would be a wild 13-12 Royals win.

Royals reliever and Mariners starter -- who were teammates in Arizona for 2019 and part of 2020 -- stayed put after the national anthem in a lighthearted showdown. They remained stationed outside of their respective dugouts, hand over heart, unwilling to budge. Their teammates sent over help from time to time with water, sweat towels and even a Theragun to massage their aching muscles.

“It wasn’t anything planned,” Weaver said. “Looked across the line, both saw each other stay for an extra second, and then yeah, we’ve seen this thing done before. We’re trying to have fun. It’s the last home game, the fans are coming out loud and proud. The teammates are rallying behind me. It was just trying to have a little bit of fun.”

Weaver and Ray stood staring into right field at the American flag whipping in the wind, unrelenting except for a smirk or two in the other’s direction.

First pitch crept closer; the umpiring crew convened at home plate, and the lineup cards were delivered. Royals starter Max Castillo led his team out of the dugout and began warming up, but Weaver and Ray stayed standing.

Finally, home plate umpire Adrian Johnson began waving them off as Castillo took the mound for the first pitch of the game. The two still didn’t budge, so Johnson got more aggressive, pointing in Weaver’s direction to get him off the field so the game could start -- albeit three minutes late.

Weaver eventually relented first, shaking his head in disappointment as he walked off the field, and Ray and the Mariners' dugout let out a cheer. It soon was made known, though, that Johnson had actually ejected the two instead of ushering them off the field.

“As soon as I felt like it got a little serious, I stepped away, and I thought I beat the timing on it,” Weaver said. “And it just so happens that they got pretty quick on the trigger. That was the surprising part.”

That impacted the Royals more than the Mariners, as Ray didn’t start Sunday. But Weaver, who has a 6.43 ERA in 11 appearances since Kansas City acquired him in the trade that sent Emmanuel Rivera to the D-backs in July, was not available in a Royals bullpen that had to use six relievers in Saturday’s 6-5 loss to the Mariners. 

Weaver hasn’t pitched since last Sunday in Boston, and it looked like he would have been used when Castillo couldn’t get out of the fifth inning and the Mariners took a nine-run lead.

“It’s just unfortunate, because we’re trying to have fun," Weaver said. “Not trying to hold up the game in any type of capacity, but I think it kind of hurt our bullpen a little bit today, and that’s what bothers me the most. Not being able to have a hand in that game if need be.”

Royals manager Mike Matheny said there was still ample bullpen coverage for the end of the game.

“Had it happen before, and the umpires would come over and say, ‘Listen, get them off the field or somebody’s going to get thrown out,’” Matheny said. “But next thing you know, he’s ejected. That could have played out, but fortunately it didn’t. We still had a lot of coverage.”