Saturday, April 24, 2010

2 comments Bert Blyleven L-O-V-E-S Retaliation Pitches

I want to start the day off being a homer and showing how Peter King is wrong. He wrote this in his Day 1 NFL Draft recap. I almost covered the whole thing, but thought I would hold off.

-- I think Carolina simply has to start managing its draft choices better. That's a story for another day; dealing a 2010 first-rounder to the Niners last year for Everette Brown was a reach.

This is not true. In the 2nd round last year, Everette Brown was a good pick. He was projected to go in the 1st round by many mock drafts. The price of a 1st round pick seemed high at the time, but they wanted a pass-rusher who was potentially elite and they had to pay for him in order to move up in the draft.


Peter doesn't have to like the pick from last year or the trade up, but Brown was in no way a reach. A 2009 2nd round pick is worth a 2010 1st round pick according to most standards (measurements) I read about this type stuff. So, Peter is incredibly incorrect about this.

But tonight, when the Panthers' first pick (48th overall) comes up in the middle of the second round, they should hope either Clausen keeps slipping (he won't) or that Chris Cook, the underrated Virginia corner, is still there.

Clausen did slip. Thanks for playing though Peter. It's weird that Peter thinks a team which currently has 18 of 22 starters that were drafted by the Panthers needs to work on their draft strategy. Maybe it works out, maybe it doesn't, but they have a plan and it has worked out fairly well for them so far. Homerism done, onto the post for the day.

I wanted to put up a quick post for this Saturday. I almost did a summary of the first 3 rounds of the NFL draft but I wanted to wait until the entire draft was over. I will probably end up talking about the draft a lot next week (or maybe not), so I thought I would do a quick article written by my great friend Bert Blyleven. This week he isn't talking about "gamers," he is talking about why he wants baseball players to get hit in the head with a baseball.

Last week, Dodgers pitcher Vicente Padilla hit Giants outfielder Aaron Rowand in the head with a pitch. Rowand suffered three fractures in his face and was sent to the disabled list.

But I thought Rowand was a "gamer" and didn't mind hurting himself running into a fence? I thought he was so tough, didn't he chase down a fly ball and run into the fence, thereby breaking his nose giving him this reputation? I thought he would love the opportunity to stop a baseball thrown by a pitcher with his face to show what a gamer he is? I guess not.

Earlier in spring training, Mariners pitcher Cliff Lee threw the ball over the head of Diamondbacks catcher Chris Snyder. Lee was able to convince MLB executives that the pitch was not intentional, and a five-game suspension was rescinded.

This is what I find stupid about the MLB suspension system for throwing a baseball at a player. How the hell do we know if it was intentional or not? How the hell can they measure intent? Maybe the pitcher just threw the ball really poorly and it hit the batter hard, but this looked intentional. Maybe another pitcher in another situation threw the ball intentionally at the batter and it went straight into the dirt or way behind the batter to where he was never in danger. One player may get thrown out of the game or suspended, even though it wasn't intentional, while the other player will just continue pitching.

My point is that there isn't a way to measure intent and I don't think it is right to judge whether a pitcher had intent or not based on the outcome of the pitch. For example, if a pitch is thrown and accidentally hits a batter and gives him a concussion, the pitcher will most likely be suspended, but if a pitcher throws a pitch and it is intentional and misses the batter completely then he probably won't be suspended...yet his intent was to hit the batter. Judging intent and the result of the batter being hit when it comes to suspensions is incredibly hard to do, but I feel like MLB tries to do this. The Cliff Lee situation is a good example. I feel like MLB judged intent here and I don't know if I like that.

In neither case did the offending pitcher, or his team, receive any kind of payback. And whether the acts were intentional or not, I have to say that this is wrong.

I am a big fan of hitting an opposing team's batter when your team's batter got hit by an intentional pitch. Personally, if the other team feels the act was not intentional, I see no need for payback, but apparently Bert disagrees. I think one team hitting the opposing team's batter for an accidental hit-by-pitch will cause some pitchers to quit pitching inside because they don't want their batters to be hit-by-a-pitch. I would rather retaliation occur when the pitch thrown was seen to be intentional...but again, it is tough to judge intent.

A pitcher has to stick up for his teammates, and he can’t be afraid to pitch inside.

I am arguing a pitcher will be afraid to pitch inside for fear of two things. One, he is afraid he will be suspended, and two, he is afraid one of his own teammates will get hit. I am not a MLB player, but I am assuming they don't actually enjoy getting hit by a baseball being thrown at them. So I say "no" to retaliation for non-intentional pitches thrown. I find no problem with a team judging for itself whether the pitch was intentional or not, but I don't think MLB should judge intent when suspending players. I enjoy double standards like that.

I learned a lot about intimidation and pitching inside early in my career when I had the chance to sit down and talk with Don Drysdale.

And now comes the part where Bert talks/brags about all the things he did in relation to this topic during his career.

I learned a lot about intimidation and pitching inside early in my career when I had the chance to sit down and talk with Don Drysdale.

Did he show Bert how to cheat by throwing a spitball?

I can't believe Don Drysdale cheated during his career! Hurry, someone take him out of the Hall of Fame. Quickly. Huge.

Drysdale told me that his first objective was to win the ballgame,

I can see Bert Blyleven furiously writing down notes...jotting down "first, try to win the game," not realizing if he had done more of this, stodgy old-shithead Hall of Fame voters would have voted him into the Hall of Fame by now.

and his second objective was to intimidate the hitter. He would do that by pitching inside, even if it meant hitting a guy once in awhile.

That would never work in today's baseball. Players are worth too much money to teams and take offense to things too easily for pitchers to get away with pitching inside. I think pitching inside is part of the game of baseball. For example, many of these players who lean over the plate should get brushed-back every time they are at the plate, but it can't work that way.

The opposing team knew that they would always protect their players. Drysdale and Gibson were notorious for pitching inside. And if you hit one of their players, they would hit two of yours.

It's all fine to remember "the good old days" and things like that, but Drysdale and Gibson would not have pitched long enough to earn a win in today's baseball. If a pitcher throws at a batter twice in a game, then he will be tossed. If he hits the batter, then he will be suspended. Pitching inside should still be a part of the game and I think if this were more accepted there wouldn't be as many problems with suspensions from pitchers pitching inside.

It should be a part of the game. Every pitch that hits a batter isn't intentional and doesn't require retaliation, especially now that the batter for some reason believes he owns home plate and leans over the plate, taking away the inside part of the plate from the pitcher.

I hit 155 batters over the course of my career, the 17th most all-time. Some of those were on purpose.

I think that's great. The problem I see with this and I am not sure Bert realizes it. If every pitcher did what Bert thinks pitchers should do, which is hit an opposing player in retaliation for their own teammate being hit, then 155 of Bert's teammates would have taken pitches to the body because Bert wants to intimidate the hitter.

See the problem? Bert believes pitchers should retaliate, so his teammates are going to take the punishment that Bert caused by hitting an opposing player. Bert played most of his career in the American League, so you can see how Bert's teammates (except Tim Foley of course, because he is a gamer) would not like that Bert enjoys intimidating hitters...because they pay for his intimidation. This is assuming all batters who are hit later get retaliation of course.

One instance came when I was playing for Texas and we were in Kansas City. I was pitching a 6-0 shutout going into the ninth inning, when one of their relievers threw a ball over the head of my teammate Juan Beniquez. Juan had a good game, and they were letting him know they weren’t happy about it, I guess. Everyone in the ballpark knew there was a purpose behind that pitch.

I don't believe this story. Juan Beniquez actually had a good game?

Sid Hudson, my pitching coach, came down and said “we don’t want you to retaliate.” A minute later manager Frank Lucchesi comes over and says “we want you to get the shutout. We’ll take care of it later.” I didn’t say anything, but when I went out to take the mound, I hit the first batter, catcher Darrell Porter, in the ribs with a pitch.

I don't know if I would actually ignore my manager's advice and still hit a player in retaliation. That may just be me.

He yelled at me, I yelled at him, and that was the end of it. I still pitched the shutout,

The important thing to know here, and I am not sure Bert does know this, is that if each bench had received a warning after Juan Beniquez got hit then Bert would have been tossed from the game under today's rules. There would have been no shutout, no complete game for him, and he might have even got suspended. So while I respect his need to retaliate, it isn't always smart to do in today's MLB. Bert should be able to understand that if a pitcher was in a similar situation today, he wouldn't have hit the batter because the manager requested he did not and he wanted to complete the shutout.

but the most important part was that I had the respect of my teammates for sticking up for Juan.

Bert's teammates probably did have respect for him in this instance, but how many times did Bert hit an opposing player while trying to intimidate him and cause one of his own teammates to get hit? That's the price of playing, I realize this, but I feel like it is a valid question. Some batters may not want to get hit by a pitch simply because their pitcher wants to intimidate the opposing batter.

I think a lot has changed since back then and you don’t see as much of that from pitchers. A big reason is the suspensions.

I am glad he brings this up over halfway through his column on retaliation pitches, since this is a major reason why pitchers don't pitch inside anymore.

I didn’t get suspended for hitting Porter like I would today. Back then, the umps knew the game of baseball, and they let us take care of business.

Today's umpires apparently don't know the game of baseball according to Bert, though they know the players make millions and are valuable assets to their team, so having a baseball thrown at them is essentially (and this is crude) trying to destroy a valuable asset of a multi-million dollar company.

Padilla has that reputation, too, where he will start throwing at people out of the blue, drilling guys just for the heck of it.

Vincente Padilla is an asshole. I think everyone knows this. There is a difference in hitting players with a baseball and just being an asshole.

I think that is a reason the Rangers let him go last year, because the Rangers hitters were afraid that Padilla’s actions would cause them to suffer the retaliation.

Logically, even though he didn't aim for people's heads, wouldn't Bert's Twins, Angels, and Indians teammates have suffered the same retaliation for Bert's intimidation pitches? Maybe not, because hitting a player with a baseball was more accepted when Bert played.

After Padilla hit Rowand last week, the Giants didn’t retaliate. But I think they should have, and I think they just might later on, maybe when he’s at the plate.

I think the Giants should retaliate, I really do, but if a Giants pitcher retaliates then there will be suspensions and possibly a bench clearing scuffle which could lead to more suspensions. Another factor in this equation is that Rowand and Padilla play in the era of free agency when the guy you hit in retaliation could end up being your teammate next year. It's a different culture in today's baseball, and even though I would enjoy seeing pitcher's brushback hitters, the suspension and other factors sometimes doesn't make it worth it. That being said, the Giants should have hit a Dodgers player ASAP and suspensions usually only result in a starter missing maybe one start.

Only Lee knows for sure if it was intentional. I’m sure Snyder probably isn’t happy with Lee getting away without being punished. I think a hitter knows when it’s coming on purpose, and Snyder certainly thought it was.

This is the entire problem with MLB judging a player's intent. Lee threw TWO pitches that were up-and-in to Snyder, but it was judged as "unintentional" so he got off with no suspension, while another pitcher could drill a guy in the head and get thrown out of the game for it...and then get suspended. Judging intent is sort of a slippery slope to me.

The Diamondbacks and Mariners don’t play each other this season, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Snyder tries to get Lee back at some point down the line.

Is he going to break into Lee's house and try to steal his television set or something? Possibly frame him for a crime outside of a strip-club in Seattle? This is the type of retaliation I would like to see happen between players.

As for Padilla, he definitely has a track record, and someone will get him good at some point.

He will have deserved it. My hope is the pitcher who gets him doesn't get thrown out of the game, because Padilla definitely deserves to be hit with a pitch.

Also, this whole retaliation issue is another reason why I don't like the designated hitter and think pitchers should have to bat. That's a whole other issue though. I think if a pitcher can throw a pitch at a batter, he should have to bat himself. I know people like the DH and it isn't going away.

Sometimes things have to be done to protect your teammates. You’re not out there to make friends.

I agree. Players aren't out there to make friends, but I don't think EVERY pitch that hits a batter should require a retaliation pitch. The pitch that hit Rowand deserved a retaliation pitch. Today's game of baseball is a different sport from the one Bert played. The inside part of the plate is the batter's now and the batter takes offense to any pitch that is even close to his body. Major League Baseball now has rules that make it hard for pitchers to pitch inside for fear they will hit the batter, including suspensions.

I know pitchers want to protect their teammates, but times have changed and players do make friends with other players on the field.

You’re there to play the game hard and win ballgames.

Don't keep saying you have to win games Bert, you will never make the Hall of Fame at this rate.

Baseball isn’t a gentleman’s game. It’s got to be played hard.

And being a gamer. Gamers would throw pitches at an opposing team's batter without regard for that player's safety, the situation of the game, or whether that pitcher will get suspended for it or not.

Actually, didn't Bert say last week pitchers couldn't be gamers?

I don't like how baseball suspends pitchers and throws them out of games for retaliation, but I also don't think a pitcher should hit a batter in the head with a pitch. I think MLB tries to judge intent too often on pitches that hit batters and it is too hard to judge intent and it isn't right to suspend or not suspend a pitcher based on whether it looked like he was trying to throw the ball at the batter. One thing is for sure, the inside part of the plate is now the batter's and with the rules about throwing at batters, the age of free agency, and things like this make Bert's dream of retaliation for every hit batter is not realistic.


Dylan Murphy said...

Carolina did take a huge risk in letting Clausen slip to them. Once he reached the second round, they should have tried to trade up for him, considering at any point the Browns, Raiders or 49ers may have traded ahead of them. Obviously it worked out, but they took quite the risky approach. It's not like Mr. Moore represents their bright future.

Bengoodfella said...

They did try to trade up for him, but they didn't have enough ammunition to do so and weren't willing to trade next year's #1...again. They did try though, they were the 1st team to call the Rams.

It was a very risky approach but I don't think their approach to the draft is flawed necessarily. Moore may end up being a decent quarterback, I guess we will see if Clausen beats him out or how it works this year.