Thursday, October 16, 2008

The Beanball War

The latest version of this recurring baseball phenomenon occurred during the NLCS between the Phillies and the Dodgers. In game 2 the Dodgers' Manny Ramirez got thrown at, and the Dodgers' pitcher that game failed to retaliate, to the dismay of many of the Dodger hitters. Then in game 3 the Dodgers' catcher, Russell Martin, got hit and then thrown at again the next at bat. The Dodgers' pitcher "retaliated" by throwing a pitch a foot above Victorino's head, and somehow the Dodgers felt like this made things even.

What gripes me about this whole thing is the way MLB administered punishment for the whole mess. They fined 7 players or coaches, hitting both sides as if it was a mutual thing. This is akin to a political commentator giving equal time to both sides, even though one side's position cannot stand up to any objective analysis. Or, punishing both sides in a fight equally, without considering which side started the fight. Or, blaming the victim, which is more and more prevalent in our amoral society.

In this case, the Phillies clearly instigated the hostilities, by throwing multiple times at Dodger hitters. The Dodgers one attempt at retaliation was really quite pathetic, and yet the Dodgers hurler, the Japanese import Kuroda, is hailed as a hero for dong something about it when Billingsley would not. The real culprits here, the ones who started the benches-clearing incident, are the Phillies first-base coach, Davey Lopes, who yelled at Kuroda as the inning ended, and the Phillies' centerfielder, Victorino, who repeatedly pointed at his head and his ribs as a way of saying, "throw at my ribs, not my head". Then after the at bat Victorino also engaged in the yelling along with Lopes.

I think in an effort to appear impartial, we too often forget what is right and what is wrong, what is true and what is false. The only people to be fined in this situation were Lopes and Victorino, who started the benches-clearing incident. MLB should have reprimanded those two, and left the others alone.

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