So much for spring training games being gentle, laid-back affairs. The Red Sox and the Tigers had a bit of a stand-off yesterday. Josh Beckett’s attempts to throw a few inside pitches resulted in a couple of hit batters and led to Todd Jones retaliating (or attempting to, in any case) and everyone getting into a bit of a tizz.
The good old “baseball bench clear” is always a fun sight to see. They generally seem to be a bit less psychotic than football brawls (such as the recent Valencia-Inter Milan rumble – no doubt there are plenty of clips on You Tube if you haven’t seen it yet). As far as I’m aware, there also appears to be more understanding when it comes to how they are reported. If you want to make it as a professional sportsman you have to be a competitive sort of person. Whether it’s a World Series game or a spring training match, that fire in the belly is always there and on the odd occasion it is going to spill over.
That’s not to say it’s right to clobber someone on a sports field, just that the punishment should be handed out (e.g. being ejected from the game and maybe getting a suspension) and then we all move on without any fuss. The recent Carling Cup final debacle was appalling, not because of what happened on the pitch but how the self-righteous press reported it. It wasn’t an “outrage” or a sad depiction of a nation’s moral decline. It was two teams who don’t like each other getting a bit overexcited at the end of a tense game. No real punches were thrown (ask Arsene Wenger) and it was all just a shoving match with everyone coming out of it not looking like a bunch of crazed blood thirsty animals, but just looking silly. “Handbags” is the best word to sum it up!
Anyway, no punches were thrown in the end at the Red Sox-Tigers game and after a healthy shouting match everyone settled down and order was restored. The real issue to consider is what is worse from a pitcher’s perspective: unintentionally hitting batters when you are trying to pitch inside, or missing a batter three times when you are trying to hit him? And does it make it worse if the player you kept missing was J.D. Drew?