Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Proportional response

Faithful reader(s) of the Blob know its position on baseball's unwritten rules, because it's written about them on more than one occasion.

Basically, they're unwritten for a reason. Because they're stooo-pid.

Which brings us to that little dust-up between the Nats' Bryce Harper and Giants reliever Hunter Strickland, and the ensuing punishment meted out by Major League Baseball.

What happened, if you haven't seen it, is Strickland threw a baseball at considerable velocity at Harper, hitting him in the body. Harper, God love him, took exception. He rushed the mound, flinging his batting helmet aside like a hockey player dropping the gloves. Punches were exchanged, and Harper tagged Strickland in the schnozz with what looked to be a decent straight right.

Then of course the benches emptied, because that's they do in baseball. I know, it's weird. But baseball's a weird game sometimes. See: unwritten rules.

The unwritten rules dictate that if a guy has the effrontery to take you deep, and then isn't properly deferential about it, the pitcher has every right to retaliate by doing what Strickland did. It is, again, stooo-pid. Not to mention potentially lethal.

I don't know if this is why MLB tagged Strickland with a six-game suspension and Harper with just a four-game sitdown. But I applaud it, because finally baseball handed down a proportional punishment in one of these situations -- even though you wonder if Strickland would have been suspended at all had Harper not charged the mound.

(By the way, didn't you love Giants' catcher Buster Posey's response? He basically whizzed all over the unwritten rules by simply choosing to spectate. It was as if he were telling Strickland "Hey, you threw at the guy, you deal with it." Because why should Posey risk injury because his pitcher wants to be stooo-pid?)

My guess is Strickland wouldn't have been suspended at all, because, again, baseball is weird that way. It'll watch a pitcher throw a 98-mph fastball at a guy's head and give him a nominal suspension. But if a batter retaliated by returning fire with his bat? He'd be Charles Manson.

You don't just throw your bat at a guy in baseball. Somebody could get seriously hurt, after all.

Here's the great part about what happened the other day: The fact that it was Harper. See, he's been exceptionally vocal about the need for baseball to break with its unwritten rules. If he hits a home run, Harper says, damn straight he's going to dance around the bases and celebrate. If you don't like it, throw a better pitch next time -- and if you do, and you strike him out, Harper will be the first one to applaud you.

I like that attitude.

Now if we can just get everyone else in the game to like it, too.

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