It seems that for the large majority of Clint Hurdles time managing the Pittsburgh Pirates that the team he managed was known for purposefully throwing at hitters. They would always claim that it was just “pitching inside”, but it seemed that no one in baseball bought into that idea much. Jared Hughes, who pitched for the Reds in 2019 and pitched for the Pirates for six seasons in the past acknowledged that he indeed saw the Pirates intentionally throw at hitters, telling that to Jay Morrison of The Athletic last year.

After the early season problems with the Pirates pitchers throwing pitches at hitters, again, Cincinnati Reds manager David Bell was openly critical of the umpires and Major League Baseball for not doing enough, or really anything at all, to protect players from being thrown at on purpose. After a bench-clearing brawl in April in Pittsburgh that saw Yasiel Puig turn into the meme of the first half as he attacked the entire Pirates team at the plate while Tucker Barnhart attempted to hold onto his leg, suspensions were handed out – but from Major League Baseball’s side of things, it was just an incident.

Fast forward a few months to July 30th. The 9th inning began with Pittsburgh leading 8-3. Jared Hughes came out to start the inning, and hit Starling Marte with the first pitch he threw. He was removed from the game and was replaced by Amir Garrett. Facing Josh Bell he induced a ground out, but a single and a 3-run home run followed. Kevin Newman grounded out, and then there was a meeting on the mound. But during that, apparently there were some words said from the Pirates dugout and Amir Garrett wasn’t having any of it.

The next thing you know there’s an iconic, award winning photograph shot by Sam Greene of The Cincinnati Enquirer of Amir Garrett with his right arm cocked back about to throw a punch while surrounded by six Pittsburgh Pirates as the Reds left-handed pitcher charged their dugout ready to take on every last one of them. As crazy as that was, things might have been even crazier as Reds manager David Bell was going after Pirates manager Clint Hurdle, despite the fact that he had previously been ejected from the game. Bell had to be physically restrained by multiple people on the Reds. In total it took more than five minutes to clear the field.

Jon Heyman of MLB Network noted last night that the new enforcement of hit-by-pitch rules with regards to ejections and stricter punishment was actually related to what happened between Cincinnati and Pittsburgh during the 2019 season and not the Houston Astros fears and concerns of being thrown at intentionally due to their sign stealing and half-hearted apology tour that read like Dwight Schrute’s apology from The Office when he reads his formal apology from a sheet of paper: “I state my regret.”

When asked by co-worker Jim Halpert, “You couldn’t memorize that?”, to which Dwight responds, “I could not because I do not feel it.”

In the last few days more than a handful of Major Leaguers have gone on the record with their disappointment, disgust, and anger over the situation. Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred sent out a memo about throwing at hitters, and in his sit down chat with ESPN’s Karl Ravech he specified it was about the Astros hitters. But he also noted that they “have been working on for some time a memorandum about being hit by pitches, intentionally throwing at batters. It’s really dangerous, really a dangerous undertaking, and completely independent of the Astros investigation we will be issuing at the beginning of this week a memorandum on hit by pitches which will increase the ramifications of that type of behavior.”

Where was this a year ago when David Bell was essentially begging Major League Baseball to do something? Where was it when Tim Anderson took one in the hip after homering in April that led to a bench-clearing incident? Why the wait? It’s not as if it’s some secret that players retaliate by throwing pitches at players they don’t like the actions of – it’s been happening for 100 years.

It will be interesting to see how this plays out. It sounds as if the intent of “throwing at a hitter” is going to be up to the umpire. Of course, hasn’t it always been that way? They’ve had the power to make that call, and eject players for a very long time and they have only exercised it after someone else was already hit by a pitch.

23 Responses

  1. Colorado Red

    So, make a big ado about nothing.
    You can hit as many players as you want, as long as it is the first one.
    Glad Clint is gone.

  2. Doug Gray

    The umpires get to decide if someone threw at a player on purpose and can eject you from the game without warning, it would seem. And that apparently MLB claims they will hand down harsher punishments when they believe you did throw at someone on purpose.

  3. Tom Reeves

    What Pittsburgh was doing was ridiculous. Bell and Garrett made the right choice to defend their team when the MLB obviously wouldn’t.

    I know we have issues with how Bell used pitchers and hitters last year (and I hope he’s better this year). But I will say he stuck up for his team and I’m guessing that creates an endearing quality. Before I stopped watching the Bengals, I remember wondering many times why players should fight for Marvin Lewis when he wouldn’t stand up for his players on the field. No one has to wonder that with David Bell.

    Of course, if the MLB and umpires do their jobs, he won’t have to.

    • DJW

      Check the stats. Reds pitchers hit more Pirate batters than vice versa.

  4. Hotto4Votto

    Like always with MLB….too little too late it seems. How are the umpires going to determine intent differently if that’s what they’re charged to do in the first place and haven’t been able uphold that? Especially if the “pay back” comes well after the initiating event. That seems a slippery slope and will lead to a lot of appeals. Glad baseball could get it in place in time to protect their precious Astros.

  5. Randy in Chatt

    Here’s a rule change I would suggest so these things won’t turn into UGLY brawls. No player is to leave the bench or their position in the field when a brawl/near brawl occurs, kind of like the NBA. If you leave those places, fines and suspensions. The only ones who can be engaged in & try to stop brawl is the catcher and the on deck batter and the coaches. That’s it.

    Whadday think about that.

    • RojoBenjy

      Well, in hockey they let the two guys with a beef take care of it between themselves.

      Worth a discussion.

      • RojoBenjy

        If the pitcher knows he won’t have 13 guys to stand behind after he plunks the batter, perhaps that would curtail things. The batter runs the risk of getting tackled from behind by the catcher still—so maybe they take that out of it as well?

      • greenmtred

        That is the way hockey deals with it, but the fights are part of the attraction–“went to a fight and a hockey game broke out.”

  6. Randy in Chatt

    Catcher protects the pitcher. On deck batter protects the hitter. Coaches try to bring peace (hopefully). 2 on 2 till the coaches get there.

    • KDJ

      Is that when everyone holds hands and sings the “World of Coke” song?

    • RojoBenjy

      On deck batter takes out the catcher. Batter and hitter get to go to it.

      But it will never happen.

      Fisticuffs in a gentleman’s game is unbecoming. Then again, cheating in a gentleman’s game used to call for fisticuffs (looking at you Astros).

      Markakis on the Astros: “I know how hard this game is and I know how hard preparing for this game is. To see something like that is damaging to baseball. It’s anger. I feel every single guy over there deserves a beating.”

  7. MK

    Count me as one who thinks the players should take care of this a force the umpires to be a little less responsive to these situations. There would be far fewer situations like this if the first perpetrator had to worry about getting drilled the next time up. I am definitely against head hunting but a good shot to the butt never killed anyone but is still quite a deterrent. The NFL has policed the injury factor of hits by allowing hard hitting but not in the head. Let the players take care of it within reason.

    • greenmtred

      Why? This is behavior that would–rightly–get you arrested if you did this on the street outside the stadium.

  8. Doug Gray

    The rule isn’t ridiculous at all. It’s great. The fact that it’s taken this long to have it enacted in such a way is ridiculous.

    • Hotto4Votto

      Agree it’s ridiculous it’s taken so long. But what’s really changed? Based on what you said above it’s that the umpires have the ability to eject a player who intentionally throws at a player. But they already had that ability before, to eject a player they believe intentionally threw at another player. Are they being trained in how to decipher player intent better? Are they going to have quicker ejection triggers? Are standards being put in place that would dictate which HBP are likely intentional?
      So what happens when a situation like the Reds vs the Pirates comes up? During a quick google search the first incident seemed to have happened April 7th, another “incident” (DD three HR game) May 28th, then culminating in Garrett being the people’s champion on July 30th. But it all stemmed from an event in April. So the crew working the series in July is expected to be aware of all the nuances leading up to this series (and all of Hurdle’s bush league history) and should recognize if someone gets hit there’s likely intention behind it? That all seems very unlikely that it’ll be different than it is now.
      And on top of that we’re to believe that the commissioner who did diddly squat about this very issue any prior years, and just let every single player who cheated off scot-free is going to bring down tougher punishments? Ha. I’ll believe it when I see it.

  9. Striets

    It all started with Chapman throwing at McCutchens head.

    • Matt WI

      I’m not sure that’s true, but even it was… it’s highly problematic that the Reds and Pirates teams of 2019 are still hashing that out. At some point you have to close the accounts. Hurdle seemed to struggle with that.

    • RojoBenjy


      How close are yinz ta dahntahn n’at?

      Only a Pirates fan posts things like this.