Tuesday, August 11, 2009
This is really gotten out of hand.
What has basically become a daily incident, MLB pitchers seem to be retaliating more than ever. Just this past week, we've seen Prince Fielder after the game try to barge into the Dodgers' clubhouse. Ozzie Guillen publicly announced that he would seek revenge after seeing 3 of his players hit by pitches last Saturday.
"If I see somebody hitting my players and I know it's on purpose, two guys are going down," Guillen said. "I don't care if I get suspended."
And now, last night the Tigers and Red Sox had a bench clearing brawl that saw Kevin Youkilis and Rick Porcello both ejected in the second inning. All this fueled from Monday night's game where Miguel Cabrera was hit hit in the top of the fourth inning and Youkilis immediately beamed in the bottom of the inning.
The teams didn't waste anytime drawing blood last night. Cabrera was hit in the top of the first inning. Porcello hit Youkilis in the back to lead off the bottom of the second. Benches cleared as Youkilis charged the mound throwing his helmet at Porcello before tackling the Detroit pitcher.
All that being said, it's only a matter of time before somebody is severely injured. Let's not forget that this is a baseball being thrown 90 mph.
Last night we saw Youkilis throw his helmet at the pitcher. How long until we see a batter use his weapon, a wooden bat! in retaliation.
Fielder tried to single handily bum rush the Dodgers' clubhouse. What next? A player lurking outside the stadium waiting for his target. Or even worse, a player tracking down the pitcher after the game at a restaurant/bar/club?
Let's not forget that pretty much all these teams are deeply involved in a pennant race. If your Detroit, why would you risk losing one of your top starting pitchers in only the second inning? The same for Boston. Why would Youkilis, one of the Red Sox best hitter, risk being ejected for nearly an entire game. Although it did work out in Boston's favor. Mike Lowell replaced Youkilis and homered twice.
The fines and suspensions are pretty weak. A pitcher is suspended 5 games. For a starter, that's one start. And a fine for a MLB player? Not really gonna hurt their bank account.
MLB has managers and pitchers who are notorious for head hunting. Joe Maddon of the Tampa Rays has made it clear that the Rays no longer want to be treated like the "little brother." Rays pitcher Matt Garza was fined a couple of weeks ago for hitting Mark Teixeira. And last year we saw James Shields plunk Coco Crisp to spark a Rays/Red Sox brawl.
Remember Dodgers' pitcher Guillermo Mota, who hit Fielder, running away from a storming Mike Piazza?
Just last week, the Texas Rangers released Vicente Padilla who was portrayed as a bad teammate with a poor attitude. Padilla is well known for head hunting. Earlier this season, Padilla hit Mark Teixeira twice in one game.
I guess it's safe to say that opposing pitchers don't like Teixeira.
MLB is going to have to address this problem that is continuing to snowball. They will have to impose stiffer penalties. Maybe they should begin by suspending players 15-20 games.
I get the fact that pitchers are trying to get batters to back off the plate. If you're going to try to brush back a batter, you don't need to throw at their face.
Most people say they should just let the players go after each other and finish it on the field. That would turn baseball to a violent sport with crowds showing up just to see a fight. We have the UFC for that.
I did some research on batters hit by pitch on baseball reference.com. Here a some things I found.
From 1916-1992, the average for a player hit by a pitch in a game never reached above .25%.
From 1995-2009, that average has never been below .30%. The highest was .39% in 2001!
From 1887-1911, pitchers were hitting a lot of batters. Why? I have no idea.
In the National League, from 1911-1994, with the exception of one Ron Hunt, no player was ever hit by a pitch more than 20 times in a season. From 1995-2008, 11 seasons there had been at least one player hit by a pitch at least 21 times in one year.
In the American League, from 1911-1993, with the exception of Don Baylor, only in 5 seasons had the league leader in HBP exceeded 20. From 1995-2008, 9 seasons there had been at least one player hit by a pitch at least 21 times in one year.
So what does all this tell us? One, that Ron Hunt and Don Baylor knew how to get hit by a pitch, just like Ernie "Coach" Pantusso from Cheers-"Just try to miss me!"
Two, pitchers hit a lot of batters before 1911.
Three, basically since 1994 we've seen more and more batters hit by pitches.
You can argue that in the early '90's batters began wearing more protective gear. The elbow pad, the knee bad, the shin pad-think Barry Bonds. He wore everything but a bullet proof vest. That's when more and more batters really began crowding the plate. Maybe MLB should start taking away some of that body armor and batters won't be so bold to crowd the plate.