Baseball has unwritten rules. It’s part of what makes the game a popular sport, loved and cherished by millions across several countries. Every player is held accountable, and if you do something to show up your opponent, chances are you or your teammates are going to end up paying for those actions in some form or fashion down the road. Usually, these situations are understood and followed in a gentleman-like manner. But Friday and Saturday night at Chase Field, the Arizona Diamondbacks crossed the line.
It started Friday night, when Diamondbacks superstar first baseman Paul Goldschmidt was hit on the hand with an inside pitch from Pittsburgh Pirates reliever Ernesto Frieri. The pitch fractured Goldschmidt’s hand, and the following day he was placed on the disabled list. The Diamondbacks have become accustomed to having terrible seasons, and 2014 is no different. So, it’s understandable that there’s a lot of frustration surrounding the club right now due to not only the team’s record, but also the injury of Goldschmidt. But that frustration shouldn’t have included retaliation. Why? Because pitching inside is part of the game of baseball. Pitchers must establish the inner-third of the plate in order to be successful and that, not often, but occasionally results in a batter being injured. Even still, it’s a part of baseball that won’t ever go away.
But after Friday night’s game, a contest that saw the Pirates explode to life and record a comeback win over Arizona, the retaliation began. First, it was D-Backs first base coach Dave McKay making unnecessary comments to Pirates catcher Russell Martin. What could McKay possibly have to say to the Pittsburgh catcher? There is no earthly way that Martin, or any of the other Pirates players, caused Goldschmidt to get injured. In fact, Goldschmidt’s hands actually came forward to swing at the pitch before realizing the ball was too far inside. So, it isn’t the first time this has happened to a batter, and it certainly won’t be the last. Nothing should have been said after Friday’s game. If someone other than Goldschmidt had gotten plunked, would anybody have said anything? Probably not.
But then, on Saturday, things got out of hand. They went from a little ridiculous, to flat-out unsportsmanlike. In the ninth inning of a game in which the Diamondbacks were predictably losing, Arizona pitcher Randall Delgado intentionally threw a 95-mph fastball into the dead center of Pittsburgh superstar Andrew McCutchen‘s back. It was obvious the move was blatant, and it was incredibly unnecessary.
Again, baseball does have unwritten rules. But one of those rules is not “if you accidentally hit our player, we’re going to intentionally attempt to injure your best.” There should be no discussion of who is right and who is wrong, because the Arizona Diamondbacks have mishandled this situation. Period.
McCutchen is a player right in the heart of the MVP race, and his team is in a battle for the NL Central crown with three other teams. So why risk ending a player’s season simply because of an accident? Appropriate action against not only Randall Delgado, but the entire Arizona organization, should be taken by MLB. A message needs to be sent that playing like this is not what baseball is all about, and it isn’t why so many love the game. The Diamondbacks’ actions are pathetic, and that’s all there is to it.
The chances are pretty high that the baseball world will see a benches-clearing brawl on Sunday between the D-Backs and Pirates, and when we do, just remember that it could have easily been prevented had Arizona chosen to act in a professional manner. Batters will get hit; that will always be a part of baseball. But in most cases, including this one, retaliation isn’t necessary.