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Thoughts on Evan Marshall, Ryan Braun and the unwritten rules

There won't necessarily be any particular logical flow here, and don't expect any particular conclusion. But everyone else on the Internet seems to have weighed in, so why should I be any different?

Christian Petersen

I didn't watch much of the game last night live. The last I saw, the score was 4-2 to the D-backs, and Mrs. Snakepit and I then settled down to watch a movie. When that finished, I quickly checked the score, and we had apparently been the victim of another bullpen meltdown, conceding five runs in the seventh inning. No great shock there. It wasn't until I looked on Twitter, where I had a scan running on the word "Dbacks", for possible Tweets of the Week, that I discovered something more than the usual had happened. 2,415 mentions? Mostly from apparently miffed Brewers fans? Ooh, let's check the post-game show.

Watching the condensed version does give a different perspective on the game, condensing things in to a shorter time-frame, which is not necessarily representative of how things unfolded. It's like watching a movie on fast-forward, and that makes a big difference with respect to rhythm and pacing. BANG! Owings gets a pitch that knocks his helmet off. WHOOSH! There goes one over Bolsinger's head as he's squared around to bunt. SWISH! It's a pitch behind Braun's back. SPLAT! Well, he won't be injecting any PEDs in there for a bit. BOOM! Grand-slam. Haven't seen anything as action-packed since Chapter 19 of The Matrix.

Apparently, everyone has strong opinions on this. Everyone, it seems, bar me. I'm kinda ambivalent about the whole thing. Still, to act as devil's advocate for a bit, I do feel there's a certain point where, even if it's not deliberate, you do have to remind an opponent gently (or otherwise), that a 90 mph pitch has about as much energy as a .22 bullet from a handgun. [Thank you, Neil deGrasse Tyson for dropping that knowledge bomb!] Tagging an opponent on the butt seems neither an inappropriate, nor excessive, way to do so. But the whole vagueness of the "unwritten rules" is certainly an irritant.

I don't actually have too much of an issue with the plunking in game terms either. There's one out, the tying run is already on third base, the go-ahead one on second, first base is open and you have the opposition's best hitter at the plate. Putting him on is by no means an irrational move. If Gibson had held up four fingers, Marshall had walked Braun and the grand-slam had followed, I sincerely doubt there have been anything like such a reaction. What is kinda weird is the fact we apparently didn't have anyone - specifically, Ziegler - warming up in the bullpen. Suspect Gibson expected Marshall to hit Braun with the first pitch, and warnings would then be issued.

What I didn't realize, is that no other team has ever hit anyone on purpose in the history of baseball. At least, that's the only conclusion to be drawn from the hysterical over-reaction on Twitter, Reddit, etc. which followed. Where were all these moral guardians of the game when Zack Greinke was drilling Diamondbacks last season? Discussing it with one Brewer fan, what pissed him off was more the high-fives which Marshall got from the dugout and the standing ovation. It was strangely like pro wrestling, an illusion presented as straight-faced reality. Last night was an obvious reality which, for once, failed to be cloaked in the usual cloud of deniability.

Even among Diamondbacks fans, there was sharp division. Neither side exactly showed tolerance of or respect for alternative viewpoints, basically painting the other side as knuckle-dragging Neanderthals or lily-livered cowards respectively. It wasn't pretty, and we should all try to remember that what unites us - being Diamondback fans - is much larger than a difference of opinion over a single managerial decision. Did it "cost us the game"? Maybe, maybe not. If Lucroy had hit his home-run, with or without Braun on base, we'd still have lost, so I'm inclined to think that was a far bigger factor.

But in the end, it's at most one game of 162, 0.6% of the schedule, in a season which was already shaping up to be the most forgettable one over the past decade of Diamondbacks history. If we were in a pennant race, I might feel more strongly. But save for the unlikely event that we now go on a Dodgers-like tear, I'm going to go out on a limb and predict that this will rapidly be reduced to a minor footnote in the annals of team history. I doubt there will even be any carry forward to tonight; from what I've heard, that wouldn't be Ron Roenicke's style of play, especially with the Brewers' season not being dead in the water like ours.