Stop me if you've heard this one before. The Diamondbacks do something which every team in the league has done, and moral outrage breaks out in #HawtSportsTakesLand. In case you missed it last night - and have been living in a cellar since - David Peralta was pole-axed by a fastball to the skull from Jose Fernandez during the Marlins game. As always when a batter is hit in the head, it was an ugly, scary moment, while Peralta lay on the ground without moving. Fortunately, and providing another testimonial to the quality of modern equipment, he was able to walk off the field under his own power.
Then, in the seventh, Dominic Leone hit Christian Yelich. Cue moral outrage from those impeccable arbiters of all that is moral and gracious about sports. Like, er, Deadspin:
The Diamondbacks are still jerks: http://t.co/SUWjbBhDzU— Deadspin (@Deadspin) July 23, 2015
Hang on. I was assured, the last time this happened, against the Pirates, that the problem wasn't retaliating, it was that the D-backs "didn't go about things the right way." They violated the unwritten statute of limitations, by hitting Andrew McCutchen with a 2-0 pitch or something. Last night, the response was immediate - though I have to say, there's reason to wonder whether this was deliberate at all [despite the pronouncements of pundits, apparently blessed with the power of telepathy]. Manager Chip Hale looked more annoyed than anything - no fist-bumps here! - as his bullpen was further taxed, and Leone's "reward"may well be immediate demotion to the minors.
Apparently, the rule is now that you don't get to react to accidents at all. S'funny how this one only seems to apply to the Diamondbacks. Where was all the moral outrage when, say, Clayton Kershaw deliberately plunked Matt Holiday last season, in response to the accidental hitting of Hanley Ramirez? [And not even on the head, just the shoulder] Instead, he was lauded for it, the LA Times's Bill Plaschke writing:
This pitch won't be remembered as a ball or a strike, but a message. "We're going to protect our guys," Dodgers Manager Don Mattingly said. Finally, somebody on a baseball team charged with being rich and spoiled and complacent has done exactly that. And, of course, his cap pulled low over a shaggy-haired glare, that somebody was Kershaw. He is the Dodgers' conscience, so it only made sense that when he felt his teammates had finally been mugged often enough in plain sight at Busch Stadium, he became their cop.
Bit of a contrast to the reactions last night and this morning, no? To his credit, Marlins' manager Dan Jennings was supremely unbothered, saying, The Diamondbacks handled it the right way. It's part of baseball. They hit Yelly in a spot that sent the message; that's part of the game." And that's probably wise, considering Miami did exactly the same thing - without any of the resulting moral hysteria - after Giancarlo Stanton was hit in the head last September. But this didn't stop blowhards from deciding otherwise
IMO intentionally attacking another player should result in harsher fines and longer suspensions than using PEDs.— Bill Baer (@Baer_Bill) July 23, 2015
Apart from the rank stupidity of conflating sporting actions with real life, Baer also forgets that, in the real world, the "I didn't mean it!" defense stops working at age 9. Accidents have consequences: mow someone down with your car, and telling the cops you didn't do it on purpose won't make them send you on your way. But in baseball, the only potential consequence is payback. Let me be clear: I'd be entirely in favor of getting rid of retaliation. But for that to happen, baseball needs to protect hitters from these "accidents" Quotes used, since the Pirates - who broke Paul Goldschmidt last year - lead the NL in hit batters for 2013, 2014 and 2015, without a peep from MLB.
The bottom line has to be, if you can't pitch inside without hitting people, you shouldn't be doing it. And until there are some kind of checks and balances available, in the far better form of official justice, the frontier kind seen last night will continue, and the manufactured moral outrage treadmill that passes for reporting these days, will continue to spin.