The Unwritten Rules Should be Rewritten, or Something Like That

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Once upon a time, the Neanderthal was used as a derogatory term to describe people who exhibited “caveman”-like qualities…you know, violent behavior, primitive social interaction, poor judgment, that whole thing.  That seems to be an insult to what evolutionary and fossil evidence suggested were a fairly intelligent and resourceful subspecies of human before they went extinct some 40000 years ago.  The Smithsonian has a pretty cool article about Neanderthals if you want to check it out.

Now we know that injuries and accidents in baseball will occur.  Take, for example, the Cactus League incident where Chicago Cubs pitching prospect Corey Black very accidentally hit San Francisco Giants outfielder Hunter Pence with a pitch and unfortunately broke Pence’s arm.  If you read that article you’ll see a pair of competitors who exhibited good sportsmanship and handled the situation well, with Pence realizing that Black was not malicious and Black showing remorse for something that was (literally, given his poor command that day) out of his control.

Of course it’s not always like that.  Take, for example, the incident last season when Arizona Diamondbacks infielder Chris Owings got plunked in the back.  From just about everyone’s objective viewpoint, that pitch was not intentional and you could even see Milwaukee Brewers starter Kyle Lohse immediate react to his mistake.  But the D’backs wanted blood anyway.  It’s not surprising that a few weeks later, Paul Goldschmidt also got plunked on the hand and lost the rest of his season, and again manager Kirk Gibson was out for blood against the Pittsburgh Pirates, though I don’t think anything came of that…oh wait, that’s right, they hit Andrew McCutchen the day after.

So you would think that a year later, humanity (or at least the MLB version of it) would have evolved past pre-Neanderthal tactics, but…


You can go to those superb reporters’ timelines to track the stupidity, but the gist of it is that the Kansas City Royals are still steamed that Oakland Athletics third baseman Brett Lawrie slid hard into Alcides Escobar and unintentionally injured him. I know we as Cubs fans are used to seeing guys like the St. Louis Cardinals’ Matt Holliday try to maim our middle infielders, but as far as I could tell, Lawrie’s slide was right on the bag and he expressed remorse about it, as did the rest of the A’s.  Here’s Deadspin’s take of the situation if you care to read, but the kicker is that Lawrie APOLOGIZED for it.

Yet for the next two games after Friday night’s accident, the Royals kept playing beanball, and this time they decided to go head-hunting with a not-even-joking power arm in Kelvin Herrera.  The saddest thing, and not that I am advocating for it, is that they’re in the American League where pitchers usually don’t hit for themselves so even if the A’s wanted to retaliate (they didn’t), they couldn’t except to hit some other non-pitcher on the Royals.  The worst part of this is that pitchers KNOW that they could seriously hurt someone, and yet an elite reliever with an insane fastball like Herrera wants to exact diamond justice by throwing at a guy’s head.

Millions of years of evolution gone to waste because of a petty squabble over something that was clearly an accident.  And you wonder why the world continues to have wars.  I’ll bet the Neanderthals would facepalm at this level of stupidity.  And I’ll also bet that they’re ticked off the A’s didn’t ultimately win the game as a form of karmic retribution.

You remember the scene in Major League where Lou tells the pitching coach to teach Ricky Vaughn some control before he kills somebody?  Well, MLB needs to step in and do something as well.  Here, “control” means much more than the strike zone; it means MLB players need to realize how dangerous a hit-by-pitch can be.  Exact your vengeance on the scoreboard.


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About Rice Cube

Rice Cube is the executive vice president of snark at World Series Dreaming. He loves all things Cubs, with notable exceptions (specifically, the part of Cubs fandom that pisses him off). Follow on Twitter at cubicsnarkonia

6 Replies to “The Unwritten Rules Should be Rewritten, or Something Like That”

  1. Even if you consider Brett Lawries slide “an unfortunate accident” it still needs punished. Escobar could have been lost for the season because of a hard slide. Wathc the play Lawrie is safe if he slides to the base and not the player. My brother was killed in an “accident” Should the other driver not be punished because he didn’t mean to run the stoplight?

    • Maybe he should be punished, but not by a life-threatening injury administered by a pitcher who should otherwise know better. MLB doesn’t punish other guys for bad slides either (i.e. Holliday) but there’s a difference between a hard slide and a 90+ mph fastball to the head.

  2. What is this “to the head” nonsense? If Herrera’s pitch had hit Lawrie, it would have been in the back or possibly forearm. I think it was unnecessary and especially dumb to be throwing at a guy in a tie game in the 8th inning, but you are exaggerating by calling it a head shot. Are you conflating the actual pitch with the gesture Herrera made on his way to the dugout?

    • The baseball was traveling at least 99 mph and was thrown behind his shoulder. That’s pretty close to a head shot if we’re arguing semantics (which is missing the point) and not intent (which was the point). I think we both agree that the pitch shouldn’t have been thrown that way, and that Herrera should not have been so blatant about his intent to scare/injure an opposing player.

  3. What Lawrie did is no different that what players do to catchers and that’s against the rules. Now. Too bad that ball didn’t hit him in the ribs. He could’ve broken Escobar’s leg.

    • It was a tough slide and yeah he probably should’ve kept the spikes lower, but it’s not so bad and malicious that it should incite a week long tough guy war across multiple series.

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