MLB: Please Stop the Madness!
After hitting Prince Fielder with a pitch, Pittsburgh Pirates reliever Matt Capps has been suspended for four games by MLB.
Capps hit Fielder in the shoulder two pitches after yielding a J.J. Hardy homerun. There was no previous warning issued by the umpires, yet they immediately tossed Capps from the game and the NL slapped him with a four-game suspension.
One inane comment from Joe Starkey of the Tribune-Review:
Capps, noted for his impeccable control, went 0-1 on Fielder before unleashing a fastball that sizzled toward the slugger’s skull. Luckily, Fielder got his right arm up in time and absorbed the blow on his shoulder. … But when a ball heads for a cranium in that situation, whether intended or not, Major League Baseball needs to act swiftly and severely.
So … regardless of whether a ball “intentionally” or “unintentionally” hits a batter in the head, MLB should suspend the pitcher?
Further, if a batter can’t get out of the way of pitch coming at his head, it’s the pitcher’s fault? Puh-leeze.
I know, I addressed this issue a month ago. And I’ll likely continue to address it every time MLB suspends a pitcher for doing his job, and every time MLB disempowers pitchers everywhere, and every time the Almighty Selig forcefully changes the game of baseball.
Starkey goes on further to state:
You can’t blame Capps for denying he meant to hit Fielder. There would be nothing to gain from admitting it, only more trouble. And it’s possible he simply lost control of the ball or meant only to move Fielder off the plate.
Point is, the pitch could have ended Fielder’s career. And the circumstances pointed overwhelmingly to an intentional act, which is why umpire Alfonso Marquez immediately and rightfully ejected Capps without warning.
“Point is, the pitch could have ended Fielder’s career.”
Please explain to me how it is that imbeciles like this are getting paid by newspapers to write this drivel?
Maybe I’m the moron, but last I checked, Major League hitters wear ear-flapped, impact-resistant headgear made from high-tech materials and built specifically to protect a human cranium from the force of a 100-MPH fastball. This isn’t 1920, when Ray Chapman’s only protection was a wool cap. Further, Major League hitters are the best in the world at what they do, in part because they have excellent eyesight and outstanding reflexes. That said, the reason hitters get hit by pitches is because they 1.) do not expect to get hit and 2.) have not practiced the art of getting out of the way.
Anyone who played baseball before 1985 knows the above to be true. For example, I played Little League baseball in the early 1980s. Back then, we kids weren’t dressed down with multiple pads, guards, facemasks, and other protective accessories. Instead, we were given a helmet, and we were taught to get out of the way. The coach would throw tennis balls at us as we stood at the plate, and we learned to bend our knees, duck, and turn our head toward the catcher — the idea being that if the ball was going to hit, it would hit you in the back or the meaty part of your backside. It sounds crazy, I know — learning to protect yourself, as opposed to being reliant on various pieces of plastic. Similarly, the pitchers were taught to follow through in such a way that they faced the batter after releasing the pitch, glove up and ready to field the ball. Batters and pitchers went through these drills because the possibility of getting hit by the ball was part of the game.
Strange, isn’t it, that pitchers don’t wear football gear, helmets, or face masks, when they are in direct line of the batter’s fire?
Question for Joe Starkey: if a pitcher gets hit in the head by a batted ball — intentionally or unintentionally — shoud MLB act “swiftly and severely” by suspending that batter for four games? Would you expect the umpire to throw the batter out of the game?
Hmm … when Carl Crawford hit a lightning line drive into Matt Clement’s skull in 2005, Crawford remained in the game. The umpires, I guess, thought that Crawford’s hit was unintentional.
But the point is, that hit could have ended Matt Clement’s career … so why was nothing done?
Further, how can we be so sure it was “unintentional” ? Ask any batter at any level of play what their goal is, and their answer is likely to be “to hit the ball up the middle”.
Why the double standard? Why is the batter allowed to hit the unprotected pitcher, but the heavily armored hitter is not responsible for getting out of the way?
Seriously people, let’s be logical about this. And instead of being so quick to throw pitchers out and suspend them, consider how these knee-jerk reactions are affecting baseball on the whole. Look at the situation that YOU created, MLB. Did Matt Capps hit Prince Fielder with a pitch? Or, in fact, was Prince Fielder irresponsible in avoiding the pitch? Because umpires continue to toss pitchers, and MLB subsequently suspends them, the real issue at hand — the fact that batters don’t know how to protect themselves — looms larger and more dangerous.
Forget about the implications of the strike zone getting smaller, because pitchers will be afraid to pitch inside. For the moment let’s focus on this problem: by telling pitchers they cannot hit batters, you are in effect telling batters that they won’t get hit. In turn, batters will not learn how to get out of the way, will continue to dive into the plate, and will stubbornly stand their ground as a pitch comes near their body.
MLB, by suspending Matt Capps, is not helping the situation — it is only making it worse.