Hunter Strickland doesn’t exactly have a reputation for having a mild temperament. I would say it comes with the job of being the closer, but this is nothing new for him, even though the closer role is. We all remember in 2017 where he cashed in on a three-year old grudge against Bryce Harper, started a brawl and got his teammates hurt and got himself suspended.
Before this season, he claimed to have grown as a person and as a pitcher, and so far that seemed to be the case. He played the Nationals without incident, and has actually been pretty good this year. Even if people only really notice the closer if they mess up.
He’s had two blown saves in the last week against the same team. The first ultimately resulted in a win, but only after a 16-inning game on getaway day. You’re not going to be everyone’s favorite teammate after that, but it happens.
The second was last night when he struggled with his command to the point where the wheels came off and he was inexplicably left in the game to allow three runs to score. Again, it happens, but the thing that irked me about it was that he was letting his anger affect his pitching. And acting a fool on the field as well.
He threw up and inside to Lewis Brinson, who had to jump back to avoid taking a 95 mph fastball to the head. I’m not going to say it was intentional, but if you throw that at a player and he gets the game-tying hit off of you, it’s not on him to not celebrate, it’s on you to take it like a grown-up. You got beat. It happens.
Not only did Strickland not take it like a grown-up on the field, chirping at Brinson as he exited the game, but after he left the game, he chose to punch a door. With his pitching hand. Now said hand is broken, and after having surgery today, Strickland is expected to miss six to eight weeks
Broken hands are nothing new to this 2018 team. Madison Bumgarner is just returning from one, and Evan Longoria just exited with one. But at least they didn’t cause them!
This is actually more in line with Bumgarner’s dirt bike injury last year. Like, yeah, it wasn’t a great idea to be dirt-biking when you’re a major league pitcher who depends on your arm to work. But it was a freak accident. He didn’t get angry at a rock for making him look bad and decide to attack it.
And I, of all people, understand having a heat of the moment spurt of anger and doing something reckless. I once punched a window because someone stole my purse and I couldn’t get in my car, get into my home, get any money for a hotel or call anyone because I had none of the things you would need to do any of that. I was very mad. I was also 22 and inebriated and felt helpless and so, so angry.
I did something stupid. I then went back and paid to have the window replaced (I’m not a monster) after spending the night in the hospital, which conveniently solved my problem of where I was going to sleep that night. It was a hellish experience. It took weeks for my arm to recover, and that was on top of all of the other matters one has to deal with when their purse is stolen.
I learned from it. I’ve never done anything like that again. Does that mean I haven’t wanted to do something stupid? No. But I’m an adult now and adults can’t do stupid things. Adults have bills and responsibilities. Adults have people relying on them.
Adults should know better. Especially if they’ve done something stupid and reckless before. Something selfish that put their teammates at risk or let their team down. It’s hard to justify keeping a hot-headed player around that has now twice let his team down with selfish or thoughtless actions fueled by anger.
Strickland had this to say, not so much in his defense, but as an apology:
Life has an interesting and sometimes disappointing way of opening up our eyes. Words cannot describe the amount of regret and sorrow I have for my actions. I have let down the ones that care and mean the most, as well as the ones that count on me day in and day out. To my family, my teammates, my coaches, this organization, and our fan base, I am truly sorry that one split second, stupid decision has caused so much harm and now set me back from being out there with my team to pursue our goal. As well as providing for my family. I own all responsibilities and consequences because these were no ones actions but myself. I will work hard to get back with the guys and help contribute to some more wins. This is our life, and we take pride in what we do, so when we fail it hurts. But that is by no means an excuse because every action has a reaction- which is what I’m seeing now. I’ve made a mistake and regret it, but I will not give up and will learn from this! I completely understand how this portrays my character, which I will humbly work on areas in my life that need refinement. I sincerely didn’t do this out of selfishness, but simply because I let down the ones that count on me most and my emotions got the best of me in that moment. So again, I’m sorry, and now I have to move forward.
You can take it as sincere or leave it, it doesn’t really matter, nor do his words change anything. He’s apologized in the past for his actions and said he would do better, and then he didn’t. I am not one for third chances, but I’m not in charge of the team.
I hope that he recovers smoothly and soon, but I can’t say that I personally want to see him back on the team unless he deals with whatever is allowing his anger to override his common sense.