MLB Injuries: Beanballs Schmeanballs

By Stacey Kengal
Shane Robinson
Derick Hingle – USA TODAY SPORTS

There’s been a lot of talk of beanballs lately — and of throwing them also.

Perspective, people. Perspective.

Remember, this is a kid’s game being played by really big kids. Fast, strong, and sometimes not-so-bright big kids.

A game that involves nothing more than swinging a long stick at a round rock and running around a large field in counter-clockwise circles should never involve someone getting killed. Especially at the hands of another. This is NOT PlayStation. Anyone who’s ever been hit by a baseball, whether it’s been thrown, batted or dropped from a helicopter, knows that it damn well hurts when you get hit by it. And if it hits you in the head? Well, all bets are off. We don’t even want to go there with what can happen. I’ll leave it by saying God rest Mike Coolbaugh‘s soul.

MLB players are real people. Real sons. Real brothers. Cousins, uncles, aunts (okay, no aunts yet, but who knows, one day maybe) and friends. And none of the people who make them so want to see them seriously injured, just as you or I would not want to see any of our loved ones seriously injured or even killed playing a game. And it IS just a game, no matter how hard we try and make it something more; it still is just a game. Anyway, I’m getting sidetracked here.

Oh yeah, getting killed playing a game. Not supposed to happen.


Has it? Yes.

Will it again? I sure hope not.

But it’s not for me to control the entire universe, just the part I’m in charge of. I’m a realist, and I don’t think you can take all the risk out of anything worth doing without pretty much not being able to do it the way it was meant to be done. But there is no place in the game for headhunting. It just shouldn’t be in the mind of the pitcher.

Ever. No excuses.

Lest anyone thinks I’m a pacifist, which come to think of it I probably am, there IS a difference between “pitching inside” and trying to intentional hit someone in the head. The former has a place in the game; the latter has none. Pitches intentionally thrown at a batter’s head should be outlawed. Plain and simple. You try and hit a guy in the head on purpose you’re outta there and suspended and fined for however long and however much MLB decides.

Now pitching inside, even beaning someone in the arm, back, shoulder, leg, foot or any other part of the body other than a guy’s noggin? That’s just baseball.

That brings us to the question of revenge (doesn’t it always?).

The thinking is, you hit my guy, I’m gonna hit yours. Seems fair enough. An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. Of course, when you associate that idea with drilling someone in the head with a 95 mile-an-hour fastball and potentially killing or maiming them, well, things can get pretty messy really quick. So there is a flaw in this idea of revenge or “payback” or whatever else you wanna call it when someone pisses you off so much you could just “kill ’em”. That’s why the “baseball-to-the-head” idea needs to be outlawed. We limit the revenge factor to bruises and broken bones. Or at least try to. In the worst case scenario a guy gets hurt but not anything that’s going to change his life or his family’s. Injuries from beanballs to anything but the head are not normally going to be life threatening or even career ending.

If war has rules of conduct and there are such things as “war crimes”, there’s no reason MLB can’t take a more proactive stance and educate their players with an occasional meeting to remind them of just how damn lucky they are to be getting paid to be play baseball. And while they’re at it, they can mention the difference between “pitching inside” and trying to end someone’s career, or even their life. It’s entertainment for Pete’s sake; no one needs to get killed for me to enjoy it. This isn’t ancient Rome. It’s baseball.

And if someone says, “Your mother wears army boots!” out there on the field? Sure, go ahead and drill him right square in the middle of the back; that’ll smart for sure. But for god’s sake, don’t try and intentionally hit them in the head.

Beanballs schmeanballs. It’s just a game.

Stacey Kengal is a writer for covering the Pittsburgh Pirates. Follow him on Twitter @StaceyKengal, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.

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