“Unwritten rules” are for losers, plain and simple. Winners go win baseball games. When Kevin Gregg spent the Summer of 2011 yelling about the Boston Red Sox and how they “think they’re better than everyone else”, I came on-air every day in response to say “go win some baseball games.”
Thankfully, the Orioles started winning baseball games in 2012 under a manager (Showalter) who cared significantly more about winning baseball games than about winning pissing matches. Instead of screaming about home run admiration, Showalter brought accountability to a team that badly needed it. Showalter’s accountability coupled with a great deal of talent and just like that-there was no longer a need to win via the “unwritten rules” because now the O’s could just win baseball games.
Of course, a great number of fans never got the memo. It’s understandable considering the team’s PR department decided winning off the field battles was still more important than winning baseball games. It’s a shame they haven’t put Buck in charge of that group.
As I expected, Showalter did not engage in a battle of “who’s is bigger?” with the Jays, and starter Freddy Garcia (nor any Orioles reliever) did not direct a fastball towards Bautista’s ear Sunday. It didn’t help the Orioles win Sunday’s game, but his decisions to concern himself more with ACTUAL baseball than unwritten baseball will continue to benefit Charm City for as long as the marriage lasts between skipper and team.
But it’s important that we don’t end this conversation with a simple “way to go, Buck!” He’ll deserve plenty more of those as the years go on, but there’s another conversation that MUST be had while this topic is at hand.
I want you to take a look at the definition of “assault”, courtesy of Merriam-Webster…
In what world does intentionally throwing a ball with a speed in the area of 90 miles an hour towards someone’s head not fall in this category?
I’ve declared that headhunting in baseball has constituted assault for years, but for some reason a great number of you have continued to dismiss this possibility as lunacy. You’ve attempted to compare it to fighting in hockey, despite the fact the combatants in a hockey fight are actually-you know-BOTH involved.
Headhunting in baseball IS however very similar to a hockey goon who decides to take it upon himself and slash an opponent in a gutless manner. Or perhaps a player sucker punching another player from behind because that player wouldn’t fight him. That particular incident actually happened in 2004 when Canucks F Todd Bertuzzi attacked Avalanche C Steve Moore. It ended Moore’s career…Bertuzzi ultimately pled guilty to assault.
Far too long we have allowed cowards in the game of baseball to continue believing that intentionally throwing a baseball at someone is simply an acceptable part of a sport. Far too long we have accepted “because baseball” as a justification for an action that is no more than assault.
The Supreme Court of California unfortunately set a precedent in 2006 that suggested “For better or worse, being intentionally thrown at is a fundamental part and inherent risk of the sport of baseball. It is not the function of tort law to police such conduct.” It was a shameful response from a high court and should be revisited over and over again. Seemingly unintentional HBP’s have resulted in consequences as significant as a child’s death. I checked in with a few area law enforcement authorities who were conflicted in how they would handle a police report of an injury caused by an intentional hit batter. Some suggested they would pursue action, others suggested they punishment would have to be handled internally by the organizers of the sport.
I’m sure that if the cowards who responded to my Facebook post would find out their own child died due to being hit intentionally by a baseball, they’d be quick to say “hey-it’s a fundamental part of the game! No big deal!”
There is absolutely no place in the game for intentionally hitting batters whether or not it was part of the game’s past. Unfortunately there will be many baseball players unintentionally injured by baseballs in the future. Major League Baseball must continue to take very seriously any possible intentional hit batsmen. Phillies P Cole Hamels was laughably suspended for one start for admitting to plunking Bryce Harper last year. That type of punishment does nothing to ensure no pitcher will think such action is acceptable in the future.
The suggestion of intentionally hitting an opposing hitter with a baseball is not just archaic, it’s perverse. It’s sick. It’s deranged. The people who suggest such a thing is acceptable fall into all of those categories.
But thankfully it isn’t a concern in Baltimore today. Thankfully the manager of the Orioles won’t stand for such nonsense.
Thankfully Buck Showalter knows what this baseball team needs to accomplish in 2013.
They need to win baseball games, not defeat 300,000 soldiers with an army of only 300 Spartans. Hopefully some of the cowards on social media this weekend will take their cues from the skipper.