There's a definite schism in the internet baseball world. There are those who have played competitive baseball past high school, and those that have not. It seems fair to write the former is very much in the minority, and the bulk of the content is produced by the latter. When I stood in against a pitcher who could throw above 85, my first priority was to not get hit. Not making an out was little more than gravy. Sure, I could make some solid contact in the fast-pitch cages at Malibu Golf and Games, but I could also come within 50 strokes of par on their golf courses. That fun little world doesn't translate to real life.
So excuse my ignorance when I have trouble understanding the idea of protecting a teammate by hitting another player. The idea of beanball wars seems just a little cro-magnon, but I feel as if I should be swirling a snifter of brandy when I write that. Maybe combing my mustache and muttering, "Simply barbarous!", in a British accent. It just might be one of those things that can't be explained unless you've had to stand in a batter's box for a living. I never had to dodge projectiles to receive my pay; therefore, it is understandable that I'm unsure how a set of customs and unwritten rules works.
Matt Cain is a wild young pitcher. If he could throw every pitch within an inch of where he wanted to, he'd win the Cy Young right now. That isn't a secret. He plunked Matt Holliday in the first inning of last night's game, but it was an obvious accident. Later, Holliday hits a 690-foot homer, and on the way around the bases starts screaming at Cain. The positive makeup and concentration of Cain has been discussed before, but perhaps the most positive manifestation of that was exhibited by something Cain didn't do; that is, he didn't try to wrap the rosin bag around Holliday's tonsils, even though that would have been a reasonable reaction. It seemed to end there, without any beanball repercussions.
Then Jose Mesa hits Mark Sweeney on an 0-2 pitch. Maybe it was a pitch that got away, or maybe Mesa is just an ass. He certainly doesn't have great control. Now that beaning starts a revengeathon, one that might carry over into today. Holliday didn't get plunked solely for his WWF theatrics, but for being the right Rockie at the right time. Or maybe Holliday was going to get hit once the game was decided, and the Mesa thing just gave the appearance that Giants had the moral upper hand. The whole system of who gets hit and when is a mystery to me. Trying to play along at home, I already had Holliday down for a thigh-seeker. And if Mesa didn't try and drill a guy during this game, I figured he was done wearing his Guy Fawkes mask.
This is pretty much an essay without a thesis. I guess I'm just acknowledging a facet of the sport that dominates my life, but also recognizing that I'll never understand it. Krukow seems to know the ins and outs, and tries not to get too preachy, but definitely subscribes to the necessity of the occassional plunking. And while it's easy to get snooty about the brainlessness of it all, it really is something that outsiders probably can't judge. Plus, it is kind of fun to watch the fights if no one is hurt. And I did buy a copy of the Nintendo game Bases Loaded when I was 11 only because it featured fighting. I have no right to a high horse, but I kind of wish someone would sit down and write the unwritten book.
Comment starter: Your thoughts on intentional HBPs....