09/25/14 by Matthew S. Vandriak
As we wind down the 2014 MLB regular season, baseball is heading towards it's most exciting time. And while the focus is rightfully on playoff matchups and the potential matchups along the road to the World Series, there's one thing MLB needs to address. The Bean Ball.
A couple of weeks ago, Milwaukee's Matt Garza hit Pittsburgh's Andrew McCutchen twice in the same game. Garza was ejected after the second beaning, but no suspension or fine was issued. McCutchen is the Pirates best player and reigning National League MVP. What if Garza would have broken McCutchen's arm with one of those pitches? The Pirates lose their best player in the heat of a pennant race, and baseball would lose one of it's best players as well. Plus there is a history of bad blood between the Pirates and Brewers. Now Garza did deny intentionally throwing at McCutchen, but this is a perfect example of where MLB needs to address "beaning."
Now back in the old days (or maybe the 1980's), the protocol was if you hit one of ours, we were going to hit one of yours. It was the way the game kind of policed itself. And of course the beaning would lead to the occasional bench clearing brawl. Bench clearing brawls actually at one time involved some fighting. Now everyone just kind of runs on the field and stands around. A few players may exchange shoves. Managers and coaches exchange some yelling. But there is very little brawling. Hence that part of the game is useless. And so is beaning.
It's time for MLB to address the issue now. Before a player like McCutchen gets seriously hurt, it's time to put some specific disciplinary action in place when a pitcher hits a batter. Now obviously I understand that accidents are going to happen. No matter how much control a pitcher has, every once and a while one is going to slip. So how can a pitcher be disciplined for hitting a batter if in one case its intentional and in another its an accident?
MLB should take a look at the way the NHL handles discipline when it comes to players delivering an illegal hit. The NHL looks first at the intention of the incident. Now telling if a player intentionally checked another from behind is a little bit easier to tell than a pitchers intent. But in a game where there is heat between the teams and someone gets hit, it's likely that was intentional. So like an illegal check that was delivered intentionally, a bean ball in the same manner should be disciplined the same way. Secondly, the NHL dishes out stiffer penalties to "repeat offenders". MLB could have the same thing. A guy who has a rep for hitting batters would get a stiffer fine or longer suspension than a pitcher who has no previous incidents. A pitcher gets to a certain number of hit batters, an automatic suspension occurs. If a beaning is ruled intentional and it's done by a "repeat offender", the suspension or fine is stiffer.
The times they are a changing the old song says, and MLB needs to change with it. And it's time for bean balls to go the way of pine tar.
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