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?