Saturday, August 8, 2009

10 comments Let's Turn Baseball Into Ballet

There's a semi-movement in baseball these days. It's a movement against brushback and purpose pitches. Frankly, it annoys me. I am sensitive to the fact players can be hurt by getting hit by a baseball but if pitchers can't pitch inside and hit a batter with a baseball for staring at a home run too long or just brush a batter off the plate, that's not the game of baseball I want to watch anymore.

We live in an age where every player seems to know each other personally. Even the rivalry between teams like the Yankees and the Red Sox is manufactured by the media for the fan's benefit and there is probably no certain amount of hate between the players because they realize they could be playing for the other team any day now because of a trade or free agency.

I am not in favor of players getting hurt but I don't think a little revenge purpose pitching and pitching inside is a bad thing. Jay Mariotti leads the other side of the issue with reasoning like this. The only reason he even brings it up is because Prince Fielder stormed the Dodgers clubhouse after getting hit by a pitch.

In 1920, Ray Chapman was hit in the head by a pitch and died 12 hours later in a New York City hospital. More recently, in 1967, a promising young hitter named Tony Conigliaro was struck in the temple by a pitch that caused serious damage to his left retina and, eventually, led to his premature retirement because his eyesight was permanently blurred.

In an effort to not downplay these injuries, I will try not to downplay these injuries, but these weren't even purpose-pitches or revenge pitches. These were pitches that got away from the pitcher that hit both of these guys. Neither pitcher was actually aiming for Chapman or Conigliaro. This is 2 guys in the 100+ year history of baseball who Jay can name that were injured by a baseball and they weren't even injured because of bad intent on the pitcher's behalf.

Football players get severly hurt and even paralyzed by other players falling on or tackling each other on the field. We aren't going to turn the NFL into flag football any time soon because it is recognized as tragic as situations like this are, they are also rare. Players in the NFL actually try to hurt each other. Granted, they have all that gear on, but players get injured in football and that doesn't seem to bother Mariotti.

Call those rare occasions, if you insist. I'd say it's historical evidence that we're long overdue for another tragedy, especially if the sleepy lords of Major League Baseball continue to poo-poo the potential consequences of purpose-pitch retaliation.

I would say listing 2 occasions in the 100+ history of baseball classifies as rare in my book. Planes crash, cars wreck, and people die being hit by lightning more often than a player gets severly injured by a pitch. There's a little perspective for you. We don't see people taking a horse and buggy or a train (which also wreck more frequently) to get everywhere do you? What I am saying is there are risks in nearly everything we do. There are rules in baseball against intentionally throwing at other players, so a pitcher knows the risks and will get punished if he does throw at another player. The batter knows the risk, which is why he has a full suit of armor on at the plate.

Not to mention neither Chapman or Conigliaro had the ball thrown intentionally at them. They were both accidents, which do happen. I would think to have a good case purpose-pitching is a bad thing would involve someone having to have been severly injured when having the ball thrown intentionally at them, which has not happened. The ball was also darkened up with dirt by Carl Mays when he hit Chapman, so there were extenuating circumstances that caused Chapman to not see the ball and react. Conigliaro did not have a flap on his helmet to protect his face, which is another extenuating circumstance players today don't have.

Herb Score had his career ruined by a line drive, should we ban wooden baseball bats and start using whiffle bats? In fact, I would say a pitcher is more likely to injured by a line drive than a hitter is likely to be injured by a pitch because hitters have so much armor and protection on they could probably could probably deflect bullets shot at them with it all.

I decided to Google "pitchers hit by line drives" and this comes up. A long list of pitchers hit by line drives and injured. Then I Googled "hitters hit by pitches" and "hitters injured by pitches" and neither brought anything of substance up. This isn't the best evidence but it does show pitchers are more at risk to be injured by a baseball than a hitter is at risk to be injured by a pitch.

Pitchers have a right to pitch inside. I think pitchers have a right to hit a batter if that batter stood at the plate and admired a home run he hit previously. It's baseball, not ballet. If a hitter doesn't want to get hit, don't preen after hitting a home run. When a pitcher is aiming to hit a hitter, he should not aim for the face to prevent injury, but hitters get all this armor to wear at the plate and act like they have been incredibly violated anytime a pitch comes anywhere inside. I am on the pitcher's side on this issue. If you get close to the plate, you will get hit by the pitch. It's gamesmanship and it has happened in baseball for decades.

I am not advocating injuring hitters with pitches. I realize these players are huge investments for teams but there are rules in place to avoid bean ball wars between teams. Mariotti of course doesn't think Bud Selig does enough to prevent hitters from being hit. What can he do when a player accidentally gets hit by a pitch? How do you even tell intent? It may seem obvious when a pitcher is intentionally throwing at a batter, but the ball could just get away from the pitcher and it is not a purpose-pitch.

No one wants to get hit by a baseball. I have gotten hit and it hurt like hell but I showed my bruise off as a source of pride and went on with my life. Prince Fielder over reacted by a lot in this latest situation. I am not going to excuse a pitcher for intentionally throwing at a batter's face but I don't have a huge problem with an intentional beaning by a pitcher if it is warranted to back the player off the plate or get back for a home run hit. Nothing intentional should be at the face.

My point is that batters will get injured accidentally by baseballs also, as will pitchers, and there is not much you can do about that. It's baseball, not ballet. Jay Mariotti needs to quit calling on Bud Selig to fix every little thing in baseball. It's annoying.

-I am really glad no one is overstating the importance of the Red Sox-Yankees World Series this weekend. Did I say the World Series, I meant to say Showdown of the Century. There was actually an article, which I can't find of course, that said the past couple years the series did not mean anything, but this year it does. Excuse me? If it didn't mean anything the past couple of years why were we avalanched with news and stories about the Red Sox and the Yankees any time they played each other? If it didn't mean anything, but it does this year, how come I had to hear about it and see the games televised on ESPN and Fox every time these two teams play?

It's so bad ESPN led off SportsCenter the other night with the two guys (who I don't know who they are, I don't pay attention, I want them to just shut the hell up and show me baseball. I am thinking of moving my bed to the living room so I can go to bed watching the MLB Network) having this paraphrased conversation in the opening.

(Guy #1) "Tonight the Red Sox-Yankees started playing a four game series. We get criticized because some people think we are infatuated with the Yankees and Red Sox and show too much of these teams."

(Guy #2) "Well, tonight we are not leading off SportsCenter with highlights of the Red Sox-Yankees game...because it's not over yet. It's another marathon game between these two teams, going on 4 and half hours now."

(Both chuckle like this is perhaps the funniest thing ever said on live television...then they post the current score and wait intently for the game to finish as they kill time showing highlights of less important athletic events.)

I am not Red Sox-Yankees'd out. I am ESPN'd out. Seriously, I love MLB Network. Last night they actually interrupted the Live Look-in of the Yankees-Red Sox to show another game for a minute.

-I try not be a huge homer on this here blog but I have to mention this. The latest Sports Illustrated has Jake Delhomme ranked behind Brady Quinn and Sage Rosenfels on the Fantasy Football rankings? Really? He's bad but you really think he is that bad? We don't even know if Rosenfels is going to start and if Quinn can get the ball to Braylon Edwards or if he will be the QB all year. We know Delhomme is the definite starter and can get the ball to Steve Smith, as long as neither player is injured, so he has to be above those two.

Combine that with the fact 60% of the population in my local area hates Jake Delhomme and I have to wonder how the guy is not depressed all the time. He is not a great QB but Fantasy wise I would take him before Quinn and Rosenfels.

The same Sports Illustrated rankings put Mark Sanchez on the list but left off Matthew Stafford because he/she thinks that Stafford is going to struggle because of the Lions offensive line...then this person ranked Calvin Johnson fairly high in the WR rankings. Who exactly is going to throw those passes to Johnson? I think Stafford will have a better Fantasy year than Sanchez, since he has a go-to receiver but call me crazy because I may be.

-I had a half day at work yesterday, so I actually got to go home and watch a little television during the day. Being that I hate myself, I watched ESPN and got Craig James' reaction to the news that Florida "only" got 53 of the 59 1st place votes in the Coaches Poll. He could not understand how this occurred because "they have all 11 members of their defense coming back this year." He also stated he wants to know which coaches have a vendetta against Florida and did not vote for them to be #1.

There are two separate issues here. The first is that Florida lost several of their offensive play makers from last year, so there is still a question of who on offense is going to be able to help the Second Coming/Tebow make plays on offense. Maybe the coaches have questions about that and also aren't sure Florida is the best team in the country. If those are issues these 6 coaches have then I can see why they did not vote for Florida to be #1 in the preseason.

The second issue is that lately anytime someone doesn't vote for Florida or Tim Tebow for a preseason accolade, then someone has a "vendetta" against them and are screwing up the process by not voting for the "best" player or team. I thought the media was going to request the FBI look into who did not vote for Tim Tebow as first team All-SEC and now just because Florida was not a unanimous pick for the #1 spot, there is a group of 6 coaches who have something against Florida and Urban Meyer according to idiots like Craig James.

The media is playing the "disrespect card" for Florida. I don't know if I have ever seen this before. It's annoying. Simply because everyone does not think Florida is the best team in the country doesn't mean there is an anti-Florida bias, it just means, God forbid, someone does not think Florida is the best team in the country prior to the season beginning.

Oklahoma and Texas are also returning much of their offense and defense and neither of those teams lost an offensive player like Percy Harvin. I can see how a coach may think either of those teams are the best teams in the country. There is a Florida dictatorship going on in the college football media, where if you are not with Florida, then you are against Florida and will be eliminated.


Martin said...

I happen to like Texas as the #1 team going into the season. They return a lot of talent, and have a chip on their shoulder about getting screwed over (in their have to decide yourself) for playing Florida in the BCS Championship Game.

I'm soon to be getting a new cable system when I move...I can hardly wait to get this "MLB Network" thing I keep hearing about. It is suppossed to be way better then the ESPN Two Teams from Peter King Territory coverage.

Bengoodfella said...

I kind of like Oklahoma going into this season as well. The thing about Texas I like is that they have Will Muschamp, the defensive coordinator who is incredibly good at his job, and he is getting that defense pretty much intact (except for Orakpo and Miller) for a second season. Not to mention Colt McCoy is back. I am already excited about the season.

I don't know if they got screwed over or not but I know they are going to have a chip no matter what. There was no viable way to resolve that situation last year. Tech beat OU, OU beat Texas and it goes on like that.

I am a spokesperson for MLB Network. I don't want to get sick but if I do I want to have MLB Network at my disposal. They talk all things baseball. It is just great and I think it beats ESPN. How long it stays awesome is my real question.

Jeremy Conlin said...

Something Mariotti forgot to mention in his column:

Batting Helmets weren't mandatory in the Majors until 1971. Ray Chapman wasn't wearing a batting helmet. Tony C was, but it was one of those fakie ones that John Olerud wears at first base. Hey, Jay, here's the list of people who suffered career ending injuries as a direct result of being hit by a pitch since 1971:

1. (empty)
2. (empty)
3. (empty)
4. (empty)
5. (empty)

Jesus Christ. Climb down from Mount Pius and get in touch with reality.

Just give me basketball season so I can read real writers like Jason Quick, Brian Windhorst, Henry Abbott, and Britt Robson. And the fact that 99% of people won't recognize any of those names legitimately scares me.

Bengoodfella said...

If I am not wrong, Chapman also got hit with a ball that had been blackened and the game was at dusk so he didn't even have a chance to respond to the ball coming at him at all.

I am not for hitters getting hit by pitches or anything like that but it's part of the game and if a purpose pitch is not thrown to injure a player then then there should be no problem and the pitcher will get punished. There is more safety gear on these guys then there has ever been.

Jay Mariotti has no need to come down from his mountain because he believes he is right. He probably wants someone to get hurt, just to show how right he is.

I do recognize Henry Abbott from TrueHoop and I have heard Brian Quick's name. Other than that, I am in the 99%.

Fred Trigger said...

MLB Network is the shiznit!

As someone who has been on the receiving end of payback after dropping the other teams player: Payback is a bitch.

Bengoodfella said...

Until they start paying me, I am going to quit talking about MLB Network. I am going to hold it to such a high standard it will just let me down at some point.

Payback is a bitch but is also safe if done smart and can still get the point across. I don't know what Mariotti wants the Commissioner to do but it's always been a part of the game and those players who get hurt doesn't happen frequently. Seriously, a pitcher is more likely to get hit with a batted ball.

Chris W said...

Chapman was one of the biggest reasons Babe Ruth became a superstar.

Because of the outrage against Chapman's death, the rules were changed to demand that the ball be changed throughout the game so as not to be scuffed and hard to see.

This meant the ball was always "live" rather than worn down and beaten to shit. This made hitting Home Runs constantly something that was actually plausible rather than just a last ditch strategy when you were behind 11 runs.

Bengoodfella said...

Chris with the history lesson...

I did not know that and I have a pretty good knowledge of baseball's history. Good job.

Chris W said...

Ty Cobb gave Carl Mays a whole lot of shit over the Chapman incident, grandstanding as if he gave a shit about Chapman to try to get into Mays's head.

Mays was probably not trying to hit Chapman....or at least not in the head, but Mays was a notorious beanballer. So Cobb gave him a bunch of shit hoping he wouldn't pitch inside anymore.

I don't know if it worked, but I love Ty Cobb.

Bengoodfella said...

Yeah, Carl Mays was a notorious beanballer, I remember that and I know he wasn't trying to hurt Chapman or hit him in the head. I would love to see Ty Cobb trying to get in Mays head. I wish there was more media coverage back then.