Yesterday we saw, once again, the unwritten rules of baseball lead to something very stupid on the baseball field. Chicago White Sox infielder Tim Anderson hit a home run and flipped his bat and yelled TO HIS DUGOUT. He was clearly fired up about it.
He didn’t bark to the pitcher. Nor did he bark to the catcher. He crushed a baseball into the stands and got excited with his teammates. As a result, the next time he came to the plate the pitcher who served up that meatball, took a baseball and fired it at, and hit Tim Anderson. The benches cleared. No punches would be thrown. We’ve all seen this over the years. And it just keeps getting dumber and dumber.
There are certain things that, apparently, you just aren’t allowed to do on the baseball field according to a certain subset of baseball players. Those rules, however, aren’t written down anywhere. You are just supposed to know them. And follow them. Sometimes. Reds reliever Amir Garrett had some things to say about it last night.
I feel like a lot of baseball players couldn’t survive playing another sport. Why do people get mad for batflips? Your feelings hurt? Lol imagine somebody dunking on you and and talking mess right in your face. You just gotta get even..
— CountOnAG (@Amir_Garrett) April 18, 2019
My take. He batflips cool. You take it to the chin and wear it. But next time you face him. Strike him out, and do whatever you gotta do. Fist pump, moonwalk, cartwheel. Do whatever. I’m all for it. Both ways. lol
— CountOnAG (@Amir_Garrett) April 18, 2019
He gets it.
Having your feelings hurt because someone “got one on you” is not a reason to purposefully throw a baseball at someone to “teach them a lesson”. The idea that this is how it goes, and how it’s “always been” is also very stupid. In 1972 the average fastball was LOWER than the speed of the average change up today. While I don’t think that guys in 1972 should have been throwing baseballs at guys, the consequences then were far less. First, guys actually had a chance to get out of the way because of the velocity. Second, they had a far lesser chance of injury if they didn’t get out of the way because of velocity. Then, of course, is this (screencapped because of the language used – but you can see the original here):
Mike Coolbaugh was a minor league coach. He died after a foul ball hit him in the head. This is why base coaches are now required to wear helmets.
As we saw with Joey Votto and Eugenio Suarez last year – players actually get hurt when they are hit by pitches. The difference between “hit a guy in the butt” and breaking a guys rib is a matter of a quarter inch on the release of the pitch. It’s dangerous to purposefully try to hit a guy ANYWHERE, because no one is actually that good at controlling a 95 MPH fastball.
When Derek Dietrich was thrown behind in the Pirates series we discussed all of the things related to that. If you care to read my take on what the Reds should do in response the next time they play, you can do that here. It was the outcome from Major League Baseball in that, and other similar situations, that allows this to continue happening. Chris Archer missed fewer games than David Bell or Yasiel Puig. Yes, Archer was suspended for five games, compared to one for Bell and two for Puig. But Bell’s absence actually mattered. He will only manage 161 games this season. Puig will only be eligible to play in 160 games this season. For Archer, as a starting pitcher – he won’t actually miss any games he was scheduled to play in. He’ll still make all 33 of his scheduled starts this season.
And there is a part of the problem. Chris Archer essentially got fined. And while not getting paid for those five games probably did sting, the team and player aren’t really facing much. Archer just had his start pushed back a day and it was back to normal. The Pirates as a team didn’t face any actual suspension at all. And he’s the only one who threw a baseball at someone. David Bell yelled a lot. Yasiel Puig yelled a lot, and he ran at some guys, but never threw a punch. They both, and the Reds as a result, faced more of a punishment than the guy who literally threw a baseball at someone to try and teach them a lesson.
Major League Baseball has been running an ad campaign since last postseason based around “Let the kids play”, where the focus is Major Leaguers showing emotion on the field. Bat flips. Pitchers celebrating via a fist pump after a big strikeout. And yet when the hitters actually do that, and someone tries to hurt them for doing so, Major League Baseball is doing nothing about it that is going to in turn, stop them from actually doing it. A starting pitcher needs to be suspended long enough that his team will need to make a roster move in order to fill that spot in the rotation. A reliever should face a suspension of a week. When the team actually has to start making roster moves, costing them actual money and resources, all of this “throwing at hitters who hurt my feelings” stuff will stop. And it will stop very quickly. Until then, though, we’re going to continue to see an antiquated unwritten set of rules risk injury over someone else having fun on a baseball field that made a pitcher react like a toddler who didn’t get his way.
Joe Torre, the former manager and player, is in charge of handing down suspensions in Major League Baseball. Torre was born prior to the United States entering World War II. When he was managing, and when he was playing, this was happening, and was seen as far more acceptable. It’s time to stop it. This is no longer acceptable. Times change. So should the consequences. Joe Sheehan, who has a fantastic newsletter, offered this up today in a free preview:
MLB, Rob Manfred, Joe Torre, the entire power structure, has a chance today to take the stand it failed to take after the Archer incident. It can finally take a stand against the ugliest part of the modern game, when one player stands 60 feet away from another and throws a hard object at him, intentionally, at upwards of 90 mph, for no reason other than spite. If your kid did this at school, he’d be suspended for a week. If you did this in your office, you’d be fired. If you did it on 86th St., you’d be arrested. The act — throwing something as hard as you can at someone else out of anger in an effort to exact revenge — is something we teach four-year-olds not to do. It’s just as wrong, just as dangerous, just as ripe for punishment, when grown men in pajamas do it.
Former Major League Dale Murphy chimed in earlier today, too. He’s now writing at The Athletic among other things. Here’s what he had to say:
Apparently today’s generation of @MLB players didn’t get my memo that declared ‘acts of celebration and happiness’ have been given the green light. Both by the hitter and the pitcher. Please post in all clubhouses. Dale Murphy—Commissioner, Past Generation MLB
— Dale Murphy (@DaleMurphy3) April 18, 2019