Hunter Strickland did a dumb thing on Monday. Grant wrote about it here and also here and Doug broke it down here.
As Doug pointed out, there is no shortage of hot takes from people on social media and KNBR callers about Strickland, Bryce Harper, and Buster Posey that seem to overvalue the appearance of seeming “tough” by emphasizing it as a physical trait, rather than a mental trait. I just don’t agree with that at all.
Tough, in my opinion, would have been Strickland facing Harper and finding a way to get him out. Even in a loss, that would have been a victory. And one we could be proud of him for.
He didn’t seem interested in even attempting that, though. Instead, he opted to plunk Harper on the first pitch, then fight him for being understandably upset about it. It was a cheap way out of having to move forward in a professional relationship he’ll probably have to face for years, if anyone ever lets him pitch to Harper again.
Harper did exacerbate things by charging the mound, but I honestly can’t blame him for being upset. That his HBP ultimately scored a run was maybe the most literal earned run of all time.
I look at Buster Posey’s reaction and I can’t help but find it a little telling. Posey is the most respected player on the team, he’s basically the team captain, and generally has his teammates’ backs in these types of situations.
To be fair, though, it has been a long time since we’ve seen a physical altercation quite like this one. Most baseball “fights” are a bunch of guys jawing at each other as they gather around like a middle school production of West Side Story.
I can’t help but think Posey had an idea that this was going to be ugly, though, and opted to stay out of it initially. As he said in his post-game interview, the potential for someone getting hurt was high.
I do not fault him, or any other player, who makes that call when fists are flying over something dumb that their teammate did. Posey has already been under concussion protocol once this season and takes foul tips regularly. The last thing he needed was for a punch to land.
Which just calls into question the selfishness of what Strickland did. He put his teammates at risk of injury, ejection, suspension or even fines, in the case of Hunter Pence, who was trying to get Strickland off the field and will now be fined for his trouble.
If it were a heat of the moment reaction, I would agree that things happen, people lose their cool and do things they come to regret.
This was not a heat of the moment reaction, though. As Grant pointed out in his recap, Strickland does not pitch to that location. Add to that the fact that he immediately squared up for a fight after he did it and this looks more like retaliation for something that happened three seasons ago. You know, during a postseason where the Giants went on to win the World Series, while the Nationals went on vacation.
One of the most striking moments, for me, was the sight of Ryan Zimmerman pulling Harper off the field and into the clubhouse long before Strickland could be subdued by several of his teammates. Teammates that took hits along the way.
Maybe it was the matching holiday uniforms that confused him, but the sight of one of our players fighting his own teammates, long after the guy he’s actually mad at is off the field, is not a good look.
I’m sure this will be handled internally, if it hasn’t been already. Suspensions may come, and hot takes will be sure to follow. But I was not very proud to be a Giants fan during that dumb fight. Because I couldn’t defend Strickland’s actions.
Give me a bad record, give me bad defensive mistakes, give me a million runners left in scoring position, give me dumb luck - I can defend all of that and probably will throughout this season. But I can’t defend dumb retaliation for the sake of pride and a three-year-old grudge.