It happened again last night, a Boston Redsox pitcher threw at Manny Machado. This time it was Chris Sale with the first pitch of Machado’s first at-bat. Warnings were issued to both benches and the game continued without incident; all supposedly because Dylan Bundy hit Mookie Betts on Monday night. This saga goes back two weeks, however
It began on Friday, April 21st when Machado slid into Dustin Pedroia and “spiked” him. You can view the play HERE. The play led to Pedroia leaving the game and caused a firestorm to erupt in the Boston media with some writers calling for Machado to be hit.
Before I go any further I will say that am not naive and I realize that had the players been reversed there would have been a firestorm on #Orioles social media. Fans in Baltimore would be upset and some may even have called for a Redsox player to be hit. Your view of the slide is either seen through red glasses or orange glasses.
On Sunday, April 23rd Eduardo Rodriguez threw at Machado’s knees three times and missed. Enter Matt Barnes who threw behind Machado’s head and hit the bat. You can view the entire mess HERE. That’s four attempts and all that could be hit was the bat.
Fast forward to Monday night in Boston when Bundy hit Betts. VIDEO That led us to last night’s shenanigans. The question now becomes, what’s next? We are dealing with baseball’s unwritten rules here that seem to promote an eye for an eye.
I would like to pose the question, “how did we get here?” I am more concerned with how this mentality enters the players’ minds. For those who do not know, I have 18 year’s experience coaching youth baseball. I am certified as an umpire and have held several administrative roles in recreational/youth baseball.
This is not what I taught my players and I do not know of any youth coach who teaches this type of behavior. Yes, kids are taught to slide to avoid contact but that is only to prevent a player being run over/into. Even when I coached travel teams this was not taught; no matter how competitive the team, a player was never thrown at for a perceived infraction of baseball’s unwritten rules.
So where does this start, high school, college or the minor leagues? Do high school and college coaches promote this line of thinking? Is there a meeting down on the farm where the newbies are taught to do whatever necessary to protect the veterans? How do baseball players get to the point where it is acceptable to throw a ball at 90 mph at a player to “punish” him for a perceived violation? Why is it allowed by all persons involved? How can the MLBPA continue to represent both the thrower and the player being thrown at? The irony is that MLB is going out of its’ way to promote player safety in the field while casting a blind eye towards this issue. This insanity needs to stop.
Let me ask this of the readers who have young children who like baseball or play baseball. Your child sees Machado or any other player for that matter thrown at and asks you why are they trying to hit him. What do you say? They don’t like them or they’re mad at them? Doing so teaches your young child that hitting someone who you don’t like is okay. Do you try to explain the unwritten rules of baseball to your child? How would you rationally explain this while emphasizing that it is not okay to hurt someone if you’re upset at them? Do you see the conundrum here?
I think we all can agree that this behavior has to stop, but more importantly, we need to answer how and where did it start in the first place?