Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Tim Keown's Laissez-faire approach to bean balls

Tim Keown from Page 2:

Disband the beanball police

If they want to clean up this part of the game, there's a really easy answer: Stop trying so hard.

If you don't want Fielder to rush the Dodgers' clubhouse, let him rush the mound. Get out of the way, and get the umpires out of the way. And for the sake of all that's right with the world, get the suits out of the way.

Think of it as going organic, letting nature take its course.

That same argument can be made for just about any unsportsmanlike act in baseball or any sport, for that matter. Don't want runners sliding spikes up into 2nd? Let the SS punch the runner in the face if he does go cleats up. Tired of NCAA football powerhouses running up the score on weaker teams? Allow DB's to hit WR's after the whistle if the powerhouse team is still passing in the 4th quarter.

Let them fight. Let them do what they want to do. Let the game police itself the way it did before every game was televised and every highlight dissected.

(And yes, I know who does the dissecting, and I know this is one of those topics bound to have many hitting the reflexive ESPN-caused-this button on the computer. Nice try, but wrong. Let's be honest -- the dissecting isn't going to stop, but Major League Baseball's counterproductive role as hall monitor still can.)

I really don't understand what Keown's deal is. It's not as if Major League Baseball has a hard line stance against bad behavior that the crowd enjoys. It allows (and seemingly encourages) managers to throw embarrassingly childish tantrums on a regular basis. The difference between fights and tantrums though is that only the former has the potential for injury (unless you're Milton Bradley).

The way it works now, the team that strikes first gets a free shot. I can hit you, and the worst I get is a warning. And that warning keeps you from hitting me, unless you and your manager want to be ejected.

The team with the hit batter also gets a runner on first base, and advancement of any forced runners on base before the hit batter. Not a terribly unfair trade for neither team being allowed to hit anyone the rest of the game.

The current system does nothing more than fuel frustration.

And prevent fights and/or injuries.

Take Fielder, the biggest, angriest and easiest example. The baseball world would be a better place if Fielder could have simply charged the mound and settled things with Guillermo Mota right then and there.

Yes, MLB would've been much better off if Fielder had collapsed Mota's orbital bone with his fist. Nothing bad could have come of that.

As it stands, though, Mota knew one thing -- and maybe only one thing -- as soon as he let go of the ball: He was done for the day. The rules dictated his ejection, so Mota threw the ball, watched it hit Fielder and immediately began walking toward the dugout.

I'm not going to try to say this is a perfect/correct solution, but if Mota knew he was going to be suspended for 50 games if he beaned Fielder, he probably wouldn't have hit him with that pitch.

Since there's absolutely no chance Mota is ever going to come to the plate at any time in any game with the Brewers, Fielder had two opportunities to express his displeasure: (1) on the field, an opportunity dashed when Mota immediately headed for the dugout, conveniently on the third-base side; or (2) after the game, which is logistically difficult but obviously not outside the sphere of Fielder's imagination.

Or Fielder could be the bigger man and not vow revenge.

Without the warning, though, Mota would have had nowhere to go. Well, maybe that's not entirely true -- remember his Benny Hill scamper after drilling Mike Piazza?

So in other words: letting Prince Fielder, one of the slowest players in the game, chase after a pitcher who has been known to flee ass kickings would have solved the problem.

Nobody wants a beanball war, but a good bench-clearing incident every once in a while can serve to clean the pipes. And besides, there hasn't been a good bench-clearing incident since Pat Corrales tried to go all Bruce Lee on Dave Stewart.

That's all good and well until you remember that plenty of players have been injured during bench clearing fights. For example, in 1993 Cal Ripken Jr.'s streak was nearly halted by a twisted knee he suffered during an Orioles/Mariners brawl. I, for one, don't think Ripken going on the DL would've been worth the pipe cleaning.

It doesn't have to happen, though. If baseball imposed some sense into this whole beanball situation, if it just stepped away long enough to let the solution play out on its own [things would be better].

No, no they would not. Aside from all the dangers that come from fighting, throwing at a defenseless batter ranks somewhere between flopping in basketball and late hits in football as the chumpiest of chump moves in sports. Advocating any system that promotes more bean balls is lame as hell.

9 comments:

Chris W said...

On the one hand, the warning system is a joke. Nothing is accomplished by the warning system, and umps are supposed to throw out anyone who they think threw purposely at someone anyway, so all it's saying is "ok, now you can't accidentally hit anyone either because we're too lazy to make a simple judgment call of intent."

That said, this has to be the stupidest take on how to solve a legitimate problem I've ever seen.

Anonymous said...

The current system does nothing more than fuel frustration.

And prevent fights and/or injuries.


I love how "prevent fights and/or injuries" is tucked away towards the end. You'd think preventing injuries is pretty high up on the list of good things a rule can do.

Baseball players, you must injure yourselves to entertain Tim! He has spoken!

Let them fight. Let them do what they want to do.

Like throwing bats at the opposing pitcher/ump and/or kicking the catcher in the face.

I mean I think beanballs have their place, but like Chris W said, this is quite possibly the dumbest take on solving the problem.

Jack M said...

Anon,

Actually the "And prevent fights and/or injuries" quote is mine. I accidentally bolded it. Another coup for firejackm.blogspot.com

Anonymous said...

Jack M,

Touche. I should have known Tim wouldn't be smart enough to realize that fact. I mean anyone stupid enough to write this: Without the warning, though, Mota would have had nowhere to go. When you know, they play on a gigantic field with only 8 other people on it doesn't seem to grasp reality.

Oh, if you'd just kindly put up your salary and any other personal information I might need (do you like pictures being taken? are you a massive tool? things like that), I'd be happy to start firejackm. I don't want to guess about that stuff and face your wrath.

Tonus said...

Did anyone see BBTN? John Kruk was explaining how the Tigers apparently screwed up their "on field fight plan" after Kevin Youkilis charged the mound. He broke down the video showing how the first baseman was out of position to take out Youk, and how the pitcher went the wrong way, forcing Brandon Inge to run too far to save him.

I guess Tim Keown is right. I mean, if teams actually practice how to deal with a batter charging the mound, maybe they should just let it happen! It's obviously part of the game! THEY TEACH FIRST BASEMAN HOW TO SET A PICK TO TAKE OUT A BATTER ON HIS WAY TO THE PITCHER!!!

Elliot said...

So the basic argument, if I'm understanding it correctly, is that we should turn baseball into hockey.

Are you sure that this article wasn't written by Jarrett?

dan-bob said...

the reflexive ESPN-caused-this button on the computer.

I like how they're afraid of us now!

Also, there have been some decent fights recently. But seriously, why hasn't anyone mentioned Juan Marichal so far?

Martin said...

Tim apparently missed the fact that the Brewers hit two Dodgers before Mota hit Fielder. Not exactly getting away with one. The Brewers also have a reputation the last couple years of being, if not head hunters, guys who don't pitch inside very accuratly, and then bitch like hell when they get hit.

Larry said...

When baseball players used to charge the mound once a week all we heard from the talking heads at ESPN and in papers was how horrible it was for the game with all the fighting. They are never happy and just look for more reasons to bitch (they being the media).