This post is in response to “The Danger of Retaliation” by Mark Hock
The game of baseball has certainly changed over the years but one thing that remains the same is the importance of backing up your teammates. Baseball has always been a team sport and with every team sport it is important to show your teammates that you have their back at all costs. The easiest way for a pitcher to do that is to drill someone after a member of your team has been hit. This is a tried and true method that needs to be reinforced in today’s games. Too many players are afraid of the fines and suspensions that can come along with being ejected but the praise and respect from your fellow teammates can certainly outweigh any fine you may receive.
It is an unwritten rule but when one of your teammates gets hit, intentional or not, you have the right to hit someone on the other team. A coach will not tell you this but a veteran player may come to you and let you in on it but usually it is just assumed that you know it already. This is where it is supposed to end, however, the main problem is that batters who are hit take matters into their own hands instead of letting someone else cover their back. The code of the game is that if you are hit you shake it off and take your base but this has been lost somewhere between the lack of discipline and big money contracts. It is an easy exchange rate to understand, simply a one for one. It is a common practice to hit the player who plays the same position as the player on your team that got hit or the pitcher himself in the National League. It is also expected that the pitcher hits the player between the waist and knees and best case scenario right smack dab in the butt. When this is done properly it ends.
When everything goes right there is no problem and little risk of injury. Most pitchers have the ability and control to keep it between the waist and knees and in the fleshly part to avoid injuries because retaliation is not about injuring someone it is about sending a message that you have your teammate’s back. Sure there is throwing a pitch behind someone but that doesn’t send the same message because it can look like the pitch just slipped. Hitting someone is much more effective and you will get props from your teammates plus it sends the message directly.
Problems can arise when the code is not followed and a player ends up with a broken rib or a pitch is thrown up and in near the head. Usually this happens when the pitcher is sending a personal message and is not thinking of the well being of the team and is highly discouraged. That is when you see players charging the mound and the brawls. Another problem is when the umpires get involved. The players will police themselves if you let them. Each team should be allowed one hit batter before warnings are to be issued and with that warning should come suspensions that will deter any more than the one for one beanings. Now a major problem with this would be pitchers who are extremely wild, Carlos Marmol for instance, and can be handled on a case for case basis. Sure it is not a perfect arrangement but the players should be allowed to handle it on their own terms before the umpires step in.
Retaliation is a part of the game and it should not be taken lightly. Protect your teammates and they will protect you. This is how the game should be taught. When it is taught the right way there it reduces the chance of injury to a minimum. In order to win you need to play as a team and if you show the willingness to stand up for your team it makes winning that much easier.