Hunter Strickland finally started serving his suspension yesterday for throwing at Bryce Harper on Memorial Day, which, yep, was actually this year. I know it’s been a while, but it definitely happened in 2017 and we can all tell because the Giants lost that game.
But why did it take so long for the suspension to start? Strickland plunked Harper on May 29, appealed his suspension for it, waited more than two weeks for his hearing on June 13, and then finally his appeal was denied on June 19. That seems like a whole lot more days than are necessary for this exercise. What’s the deal with that? Here are some theories.
They wanted him to drop his appeal
The natural effect of baseball not suspending Strickland while he expected to be suspended was that the Giants would overuse him in anticipation of the suspension, and then he wouldn’t be available to pitch. In that scenario, the best thing for everyone would be for him to drop his appeal and start serving his suspension, as Baggs tweeted on Friday:
Exactly, which is why he should start serving the suspension tonight regardless. https://t.co/YkcNFlKJXI— Andrew Baggarly (@extrabaggs) June 16, 2017
If the entire suspension debacle was just to get Strickland to drop his appeal because there was no upside to waiting for the league to rule, well ha ha, Joe Torre & Co, that plan backfired. Not in the sense of Strickland helping the Giants win (No one can help the Giants win anymore!), but just because Torre didn’t get what he hypothetically wanted out of it.
Now, why would they want to not rule on the case? Maybe they felt they were on shaky ground precedent-wise in upholding the suspension, or maybe they didn’t want to make a ruling and create a precedent for the future that other players could point to in their own hearings. In any case, this is a theory that I have definitely now written more than 200 words about.
The extra punishment of making him wait
Hunter Strickland got a lot of publicity for throwing at Bryce Harper, and while Harper also got suspended, it was for less time, he got it cut down by a game immediately, and then he quietly served his suspension and now everyone’s forgotten he did anything wrong in the first place. That was never going to happen with Strickland, considering that he instigated the incident without provocation, and so if the league wanted to get teams to ensure their pitchers didn’t act like this in the future, punishing them too by creating havoc in the bullpen might be effective.
Look, I know this theory is crazy and dumb, but honestly, so is waiting a week to rule on the appeal, so it fits. In fact, if anything it’s not crazy and dumb enough ...
So he couldn’t pitch at home
Hunter Strickland is from Georgia, and (conspiracy theory voice) he just happened to be suspended right before his team showed up to play the Braves. Now, I haven’t heard anything like this officially, but it seems like it’s an awfully big coincidence that his hearing and punishment were delayed for weeks longer than necessary, and then his suspension started on the one day that would ensure that he didn’t get to pitch in front of his friends and family.
I’m not saying I know what happened. I’m saying there are questions. Unanswered questions about who knew what about the scheduling, when they knew it, and why they waited until the exact moment when it would hurt Hunter Strickland the most to discipline him. From here, it seems awfully suspicious.
Of course, it’s not necessarily malice here from MLB’s discipline office. It could also be ...
Because the first batter Strickland ever hit in the majors was Matt Kemp, so they figured they should make sure they didn’t get into a fight
I mean, shoot, I don’t know, maybe they figured there might have been some incident there and they didn’t want Strickland throwing at another guy while still waiting to serve his suspension for the first guy he threw at this year.
This dumb conspiracy theory is a lot less interesting without all the words that are both bolded and in italics, huh.
They’re just really bad at this
Don’t ever discount incompetence as a possibility when someone does something incompetent. It’s entirely possible that there was no plan here, no reason behind it, no greater motive. They just literally couldn’t figure out what to do. “Well, he said it wasn’t intentional. I never thought about it like that.” “Me either, Joe. Let’s think about it real hard for a while and then come back here in a few days.”
Look, we’ve all gotten an email or a DM or something, thought to ourselves, “Oh, I’d better check one thing and then respond,” and then bam, it’s suddenly three weeks later and now you just look stupid. Happens all the time. Poor Joe Torre, suffering the wrath of our judgment just because he’s treating internal MLB communications like a dang millennial.
Strickland made an impassioned, persuasive argument whose merits necessitated such intense debate that it took days of discussions to determine what to do