With the decision by Mets manager Terry Collins to pull his star third baseman David Wright from the game against the Milwaukee Brewers on Tuesday night, baseball fans enjoyed a new chapter in this season’s MLB Kabuki theater.
Twice in this still-early 2012 Major League Baseball season, the unwritten rules of baseball have been spoken about with candor that is refreshing.
Mets relief pitcher D.J. Carrasco hit the Brewers’ slugger Ryan Braun, the reigning MVP of the National League in the left bicep immediately after a homerun by teammate Rickie Weeks in the bottom of the seventh inning.
The Mets lost the game 8-0 and knew retaliation would come against their hot-hitting star Wright.
ESPN’s baseball writer and analyst Buster Olney reported on Collins’ decision to pull David Wright from the game prior to him going to the plate in the top of the eighth inning.
“Collins and Wright had a discussion in the dugout before he was due up. Wright wanted to bat but Collins was not going to put his .408-hitting star in a dangerous position. He said, ‘If somebody should be hit, it’s me,'” Collins said. “I said, ‘It’s not going to be you.'”
Collins defended his decision at the post-game media conference and didn’t skirt the issue, while not accusing the Brewers of intentionally trying to hurt anyone.
In doing so he admitted that hitting batters in retaliation is alive and well in the game of baseball and his decision to spare Wright from potential injury was an acknowledgement of that.
It was the second time this month that honesty was heard in regard to the tradition of bean balls.
Philadelphia Phillies hurler Cole Hamels admitted to media that he intended to hit newly minted major leaguer Bryce Harper of the Washington Nationals during a game on May 7.
The Washington Post reported on Hamels’ honest answer to media questions after the game.
“That’s just — you know what, it’s something that I grew up watching, that’s what happened, so I’m just trying to continue the old baseball — I think some people kind of get away from it. I remember when I was a rookie the strike zone was really, really small and you didn’t say anything just because that’s the way baseball is. Sometimes the league is protecting certain players and making it not that old-school, prestigious way of baseball.”
For his candor, Hamels was handed a five-game suspension which keeps him off the mound for only one start. If Hamels had lied, despite Harper being plunked, he would not have been punished, making it clear that MLB’s corporate suits want the unwritten baseball rules to remain that way.
The Mets’ manager Collins shouldn’t have to endure any punishment for trying to keep Wright, who was called a superstar today by club owner Fred Wilpon, off the injury list with the Mets having some success so far this season.
Might we be seeing an end to the days of weak denials by baseball pitchers who claim that the ball just got away from them, or that it didn’t make sense to intentionally put someone on base in that particular situation? One can only hope.