Sunday, April 24, 2005

Beanballs and Birdbrains (commentary)

Originally published at Steve Silva's www.bostondirtdogs.com

“It’s pretty funny until the rabbit gets the shotgun.” – John Salley

A baseball thrown at a major league hitter at ninety miles per hour allows him about 0.4 seconds to analyze and react. Prior to today’s action, there had been 99 batters hit by pitchers in the National League and 101 in the American League, not a significant difference. Judging by today’s action between the Red Sox and the Devil Rays one wouldn’t know that.

The feud between the Red Sox and the Devil Rays goes back literally years, although like many conflicts, few remember the origins. However, each year it seems that the quid pro quo expands, unchecked by changes in management, managers, and players. This weekend a series of hit batsmen again erupted in gang warfare, culminating in an attempted drive-by hit on David Ortiz by Lance Carter after Carter had brushed back Manny Ramirez who promptly responded by hammering the next Carter fastball into the bleachers. Ortiz then nearly became the victim of the purpose pitch, the purpose “being to separate the head from the shoulders.”

During the Red Sox pennant quest of August 1967, Angel righthander Jack Hamilton beaned budding superstar right fielder Tony Conigliaro, causing severe eye injuries, beginning the downward spiral of Conigliaro’s career. Neither Carter nor Ortiz were born then, and perhaps neither is aware of Conigliaro’s significance to Red Sox history. However, all those of us who remember that nightmare never wish to recall it or see another Boston or opposing player in similar circumstances.

Although the designated hitter rule has become the focus for the problem of beanball wars, it’s not so simple. Pitchers need to use both sides of the plate against today’s bigger, stronger hitters and hitters diving in on the plate need to understand that every inside pitch is not a ‘purpose pitch’. On the other hand, when intent is clear and contempt not control becomes the issue, major league baseball needs to act with clarity and immediacy.

The pitchers involved, management, and managers should be severely reprimanded, suspended and fined. There should be no warning and no appeals. The umpiring crew involved should be suspended for one series without pay for failing to control the game. Both the Red Sox and the Tampa management should be fined a minimum of $250,000 dollars, both managers and pitchers suspended for a minimum of ten days, and Bud Selig should contact every team and assure them that this is the end, not the beginning of the zero tolerance policy to a baseball tradition that must end now.

Will that happen? Of course not, because the “labor unions” will prevent harsh treatment of their coddled members. The idiocy will continue and baseball machismo will manufacture more manure, while the action serves up post-game highlights and ESPN moments. Maybe NESN can have a ‘beanballs and birdbrains’ segment.

5 comments:

RedSoxer said...

The problem with your scenario (heavy fines and suspensions etc.) is that it's impossible to prove intent. Even when it's as seemingly obvious as the nose on your face, it's still impossible. I can't think of one pitcher, ever, that's said, "Yeah, I threw at the batter." It just doesn't, and never will happen in my opinion.

Steve D - Texas

RedSoxer said...

Re: "The pitchers involved, management, and managers should be severely reprimanded, suspended and fined. There should be no warning and no appeals."

Well now, there's another problem! Punishment when you can't prove intent and topped off with no due process. I understand your concerns but your "remedy" is sorely lacking in my opinion.

Steve D - Texas

Dad said...

The solution to the beanball wars is to reward a batter hit by a pitch with second base rather than first and to advance any runners accordingly. Yes, pitchers need to be able to throw inside. The rule change would not prevent them from throwing inside, but would force them to do it more carefully.

RedSoxer said...

Re: "The pitchers involved, management, and managers should be severely reprimanded, suspended and fined."

In your perfect world, why stop there? What about the owners who hired the managers?

Re: "Will that happen? Of course not, because the “labor unions” will prevent harsh treatment of their coddled members."

Never mind. Ah, class war!

I'm sorry, but your "solution" scares me more than a "beanball" itself!

Running...

Steve D - Texas

red sox rooter said...

amen!!The deadrays are such an sucky team they have to resort to childish behavior such as this.and that moron harold reynolds on baseball tonight said ortiz should have been tossed for motioning like he was going to charge the mnd and whack carter who had an hair up his ass after he threw at manny and then manny took him deep.but big papi got the last laugh with that bomb which probably has landed in havana by now