Tap-In Question: Are baseball brawls dumb and irresponsible or necessary and bonding? - BaltimoreBaseball.com

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Tap-In Question: Are baseball brawls dumb and irresponsible or necessary and bonding?

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Photo credit: Joy R. Absalon

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We’re getting philosophical in the bar today, thanks to Kansas City Royals’ starter Yordano Ventura.

By now you know that Ventura, who has a history of throwing at hitters, brushed back Manny Machado in one at-bat Tuesday, the two jawed after a fly out, and then Ventura plunked him in the side in the fifth inning with a 99-mph fastball. It ignited a brawl in which Machado charged the mound and punched Ventura as the benches and bullpens cleared.

From this end, Machado certainly appeared justified to react the way he did given Ventura’s reputation (he’s been ejected three times for throwing at hitters).

But, of course, this beer dive is in Baltimore. Machado has jawed at umpires and other teams before, including his two dust-ups, and the bat-tossing incident, against Oakland in 2014.

And so people outside of Charm City may view Machado as someone who loses his temper too quickly.

That’s not really worth arguing here, though; no one in this zip code is going to point fingers at Machado after this one, considering how it played out.

But the question I have is more about baseball brawls.

They are certainly memorable. Ask former Orioles reliever Alan Mills, who will forever be remembered for punching New York Yankees’ slugger Darryl Strawberry in the jaw during a melee at Yankee Stadium in 1998.

And a brawl can be a moment of team-bonding. When Orioles reliever Kevin Gregg took on Boston’s David Ortiz in July 2011, many of those Orioles felt like a statement was made that they weren’t going to be intimidated by the Red Sox. A couple months later, the Orioles knocked the Red Sox out of the playoffs in the last series of the season.

There’s no question that the Orioles responded Tuesday night, running out to the field as soon as Machado charged the mound and then homering three times after that incident.

The flip side, though, is that Machado will now be suspended for several games – a difficult consequence considering the club is already without starting shortstop J.J. Hardy.

And, regardless if this is “part of the game,” it’s a terrible example for kids watching their heroes react this way. We tend to refrain from telling kids to handle adversity by charging and punching. In fact, my daughter, a 12-year-old softball pitcher who is upset every time she plunks a batter, asked me if it were possible that she might get charged.

I tried to explain the difference between accidental and intentional – and then I needed a beer afterward.

I guess what I couldn’t explain is whether it really is necessary for brawls to have to happen occasionally in Major League Baseball. That hitters must defend themselves after they feel they were thrown at intentionally.

I guess I get both sides of the argument. But I want your thoughts.

Tap-In question: Baseball brawls: Dumb and irresponsible or necessary and bonding?

12 Comments

12 Comments

  1. Creatively_19

    June 7, 2016 at 11:59 pm

    Natty Boh please, barkeep!

    I understand that Manny felt like he had to defend himself from Ventura’s antics, but to what point. Manny and the O’s don’t need to prove anything with fists, you can prove it on the field with the glove and the bat. Further, given Ventura’s history, does anyone expect him to learn anything from this incident? Perhaps MLB will set a precedent with a harsher punishment for repeat acts of aggression, but old school baseball believes in the doctrine that the sport polices itself. Tonight Manny was the sheriff putting it to the bad guy, which is the narrative generally supported by his manager and undoubtedly much of baseball. Still, the O’s will be without their MVP candidate third basemen and that will be a team punishment, and a very harmful and unnecessary thing.

    Ultimately, I come down on the side of dumb and unnecessary, but just like watching Odor knock out Bautista, very gratifying to watch as well.

  2. Dan Connolly

    June 8, 2016 at 12:16 am

    A Boh and a free drink chip. You said it better than me, 19. (Keep your hands out of my tip jar.) But I get the feeling we’re gonna have plenty of patrons in here that believe it was worth it. We’ll see.

  3. Boog Robinson Robinson

    June 8, 2016 at 8:59 am

    As long as batters stare down home runs (or simple fly balls in this case), and/or overtly flip their bats, they are going to get thrown at. It may not be necessary, but considering the age and testosterone level of the men playing the game, it’s inevitable. Not to be cliche’, but I believe it’s part of the fabric of the game.

    PS Dan … Spell Check worked today.

    • Dan Connolly

      June 8, 2016 at 10:45 am

      Drink chip on the spell check. I agree. And let’s remember there was an epic staredown on a fly ball. IF Bautista had done that to Tillman, O’s fans would be in an uproar.

  4. 5brooks5

    June 8, 2016 at 10:19 am

    Emotionally, I have no problem with Manny charging the mound. But in reality, for the good of the team, you drop the bat,laugh at the punk pitcher and go to first base! But it’s an emotional game and Manny is so young, it’s almost predictable. I doubt Brooks or Cal would have charged the mound, but that’s not fair to Manny,he’s the best we have and I love his passion, just not the histrionics.

    • rebusgadfly

      June 8, 2016 at 10:26 am

      Great word histrionics! SO fitting. I must confess I had to look the word up though. Thanks for expanding my vocabulary. Next round on me

      • Dan Connolly

        June 8, 2016 at 10:47 am

        We have an erudite clientele in here. And I guarantee Brooks and Cal would not have charged. Frank was a magnet for inside pitches. All he did was stare and homer.

  5. rebusgadfly

    June 8, 2016 at 10:23 am

    Greetings and salutations good sir. One cup of piping hot black coffee (plain boring none of that Starbucks nonsense) On second thought just leave the pot on the table, please.

    Fighting, throwing 99 mph fastballs attempting to ruin careers and charging the mound beating the crap out of idiots are all negative, slighting, and detrimental to the game. With that said I do want the rest of the patrons of the bar to know I understand and in my little evil (tit for tat) inner masculine SOB inner child understands and can justify and rectify Manny’s response and actions. (Got to say that was one heck of a shot to Ventura’s face.)

    It is not the message we want to send to our kids, but a valuable lesson can still be gleaned from this incident. Listen to Manny’s interview after the game. I was so proud to be his fan when he admitted he crossed the line and was willing to suffer the consequences of his actions. Kids and us middle aged adults need to realize there are times to step out of accepted norms and let our instinct react. Choices have to be made when honor is at stake. The only catch is one must be willing to accept the consequences of that act. We all have freedom to say, be and act any way we chose, but we must remember there are consequences for all our actions justified or not.

    There are prices to be paid for standing up for oneself and the team. The Orioles are going to be down one of their best players and Manny’s consecutive game streak will end. A high price to pay but one that is justified.

    • Dan Connolly

      June 8, 2016 at 10:50 am

      And, Rebus, remember, if that choice is made outside of a diamond, it’s an arrest and central booking. Baseball has its own rules, I get it. But as you put it so eloquently, consequences will follow no matter the stage.

      • rebusgadfly

        June 8, 2016 at 11:45 am

        Wise and thoughtful addition… Outside of the diamond assault charge.
        (deposit $5 bill in tip jar – nods head in respect)

        I guess it is like speeding. It is against the law, yet a lot of us engage in the practice. I always believed if one is willing to speed and cross that line one should be willing to go to traffic court and pay the fine willingly. It boils down to the question, how much is your respect worth?

  6. 5brooks5

    June 8, 2016 at 10:38 am

    Haha! I must admit,I heard Gene Mauch use histrionics to describe Billy Ripken’s play, years ago! It just stuck with this old goat, for some reason, but you are welcome for the word. Never know when we can learn something new.

  7. Dan Connolly

    June 8, 2016 at 10:50 am

    I’m learning all the time. Drink chip.

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