Oh, hey, there was a big to-do last night between Nick Hundley and Yasiel Puig and then the Giants and the Dodgers. You probably already watched it, hashed it out on your group texts and at the water cooler, but here we go one more time just before the news gets really stale. Here’s the video (in case you really did miss it):
And here are home plate ump Eric Cooper’s comments from last night (I will re-transcribe them beneath the tweet):
These were the full comments from home-plate umpire and crew chief Eric Cooper on tonight’s altercation between Yasiel Puig and Nick Hundley. pic.twitter.com/TTJ5BqqqaS— Fabian Ardaya (@FabianArdaya) August 15, 2018
What did you observe in the altercation between Yasiel Puig and Nick Hundley?
“There was something being said at the plate. Puig stepped up to Hundley, and then Puig pushed him. It looked like Hundley may have pushed back. The fight started.”
That’s true. Eric Cooper was right there. He had the best view.
Watch Hundley shove Puig after the first shove, at the same time as Puig’s second shove.
Yes, I’ve circled Hundley’s arm here so that you can see the clear intention of his move. It’s not Puig’s fault that he’s bigger and stronger than Hundley and had leverage and the element of surprise when he got in two really great shots on Hundley. Nick still shoved back.
The Dodgers’ broadcast called it very strangely, very clearly stating that it was Hundley who began the shoving:
Whatever. In any case, the second guy always gets busted, and shoving back is usually the easiest call an umpire will ever make.
Was there anyone else involved that was considered for ejection for their part in the altercation?
“We ejected who we felt needed to be ejected.”
I agree with this. Watch Dave Roberts shout “Noooooo!”
Yasiel Puig slapped Nick Hundley. pic.twitter.com/Uru8nQcZty— Fabian Ardaya (@FabianArdaya) August 15, 2018
And, again, Hundley shoved back and he was escalating the situation by talking at Puig before the shoving.
I didn’t even want an ejection for this move...
A little aggressive from Dodgers 1B coach George Lombard, no? pic.twitter.com/PhEuSIYaxP— Ahmed Fareed (@FareedNBCS) August 15, 2018
I was just impressed. And, obviously, Nick Hundley could never be a running back in the NFL. I don’t think he thought he’d be tackled by the Dodgers’ third base coach this season.
What did you see that warranted an ejection for Puig?
“Watch the tape. You’ll see why he had to be ejected. It’s on the tape.”
This is where a lot of Dodgers fans will chime in about Nick Hundley being racist and/or too controlling about a player getting upset over missing his pitch. Here’s the thing: Giants fans have had their own head case to deal with over the years. His name is Hunter Strickland. He’s sometimes talented but always erratic, and he’s never had his head on straight. He’s the guy who got so mad at giving up a hit that he broke his hand punching a door. He plays hard for himself, Puig plays hard for himself. Giants fans don’t embrace Strickland, though, and I suppose the only reason why Dodgers fans embrace Puig is because when he’s weird and fun he’s weird and fun for them and he plays every day in the lineup rather than just in relief sometimes.
We’ll get to Nick Hundley’s accountability later, but think about the only defense people can mount for Puig here: “Whatever Puig does after Hundley opens his mouth is on Hundley, not Puig. And he’s a superhero for hitting the guy wearing the mask and protective gear.” Baseball fans have a way of getting high and mighty when it comes to “adult” things like player salary, PEDs, domestic violence, and the designated hitter, but our partisanship is so extreme that we’ll throw out “a man is responsible for his actions” the second that idea becomes inconvenient.
Sure, Nick Hundley is responsible for setting in motion the series of events that got him slapped and ejected, but what could he have possibly said to upset Puig? It must’ve been pretty serious and as insensitive as everyone assumed:
Yasiel Puig (via interpreter): “(Hundley) told me to stop complaining and step back in the box ... he just kept coming after me and kept complaining. I wasn’t going to let them disrespect our house.”— J.P. Hoornstra (@jphoornstra) August 15, 2018
Oh man. Nick Hundley nagged Puig until Puig couldn’t take it anymore and lost his temper. Poor guy. Who knew the appropriate response to nagging was to hit the person doing the nagging?
Why was the Hundley ejection announced later?
“There was no delay. If anything, we were getting together as a group and talking about how we were going to handle it. We needed to put warnings out, so we had to make sure we were all on the same page.”
While we’re waiting...
Unrelated, but related:
What did you see that warranted an ejection for Hundley?
“Watch the tape. You’ll see why he had to be ejected.”
We saw the shove above and we know the shoves and punching were instigated by Nick Hundley’s nagging, so there doesn’t need to be any more explanation of this line. However, I do want to point out that although this happened —
Who was the first Giants player off the bench in the scrum? Derek Rodriguez ... by a wide margin. pic.twitter.com/XJJyjPFfGA— LOLKNBR (@LOLKNBR) August 15, 2018
and in the broadcast, Kuiper and Krukow lauded Tony Watson for his fast response, it’s Alen Hanson who gets credit for being the fourth person on the field (after Hundley, Puig, and Eric Cooper) to see what was about to happen:
Was there any protest from Bruce Bochy or Dave Roberts?
“I just told them which players would be ejected, and that there would be warnings issued for the rest of the game.”
It seemed like both managers knew what was up. I like this look here because it appears Cooper is saying, “You know what you did, Hundley.”
Was there anything lingering between Puig and Hundley from prior at bats?
“I think we’ve done a pretty good job of covering what happened here, to be honest with you. You saw what happened there in the seventh inning. That was all that happened.”
Duane Kuiper suggested that Puig had been “doing this for the whole series” and that would be enough to cause Hundley to escalate the situation. I find that to be a limp reason for doing things, but I do understand that baseball players don’t have much to do outside of baseball and, so, any emotion is a mismanaged emotion simply because they don’t have time to deal with theirs in a healthy way. But let us never forget that the whole thing started because Tony Watson threw this pitch:
That pitch deserved to be sent into space. Instead, it caused a mini land war. Conspiracy Bryan thinks that Nick Hundley started all this to cover up Tony Watson’s lack of command.
The larger question is do you think this was Nick Hundley’s fault? Your answer probably says more about your fan loyalty than your personal beliefs, so I will assume that all Dodgers fans want Hundley to get run over by train (preferably in front of a loved one) and all Giants fans think that Hundley should get a statue that replaces Willie Mays’ statue in front of AT&T Park.
What Nick Hundley did last night was the equivalent of the “I’m not touching you!” game with your sibling and the sibling having the finger pointed at them lost it when the sibling doing the pointing wouldn’t stop pointing. Even if you agree that it is wise and good to psychologically torture an emotionally fragile individual, you’ve still signed on to psychologically torturing an emotionally fragile individual, which by act alone does not give one the moral high ground or any valuable superiority. It makes you an asshole. Nick Hundley is an asshole. And I hope most parents punish the “I’m not touching you!” kid, because otherwise, that kid will grow up thinking it’s okay to be an asshole.
Yasiel Puig plays hard, fast, and loose and pisses off so many people, but messing with his head in a crucial spot — and, mind you, this wasn’t Hundley posing a riddle as Puig stepped into the batter’s box or giving him a paradoxical puzzle with no answer to solve — in this particular case was the unintended consequence of being an asshole. Yeah, it’s not Nick Hundley’s fault that Yasiel Puig lost his cool, but then again, maybe it is? And maybe knowing that it’s easy to get Puig to lose his cool supposes premeditation, which makes the whole thing really gross.
If Yasmani Grandal mouthed off to Brandon Belt for slumping his shoulders because he swung through two fastballs right down the middle (don’t laugh, it could happen tonight), you’d rightfully wonder what Grandal’s problem was. If you knew that mouthing off to Brandon Belt in the middle of the game would cause him to turn into The Incredible Giraffe, you’d be even more upset at the catcher for stepping outside the game — adding his own commentary — to throw off your player for no reason. So what that he got mad that he missed his pitch?
At best, this was the extreme asshole version of Nick Hundley protecting his pitcher, Tony Watson, for getting away with throwing slop and was hoping to disrupt Puig’s timing to save Watson’s inning; because, for some reason, the #1 and only rule in baseball is “Don’t show up the pitcher”. At worst, this was a craven attempt to get under Puig’s skin just because you don’t like the guy and you wanted to try to get him ejected. The Giants don’t like Puig. We get it. You get that the Giants don’t like Puig, right guys? They’ve — they’ve been pretty clear about that since he came onto the scene, I think.
So, the Giants don’t like Puig. They don’t like Puig, get it? It explains everything! Whenever they see Puig, they make it a point to let him know and to let us all know that they don’t like him! How else will he or we ever know? Every time the Giants play the Dodgers and Puig is there, the Giants walk into the middle of the room and proudly announced they’ve filled their diaper. Congratulations, Giants! You’ve done it!
Puig’s responsible for his actions, Hundley’s accountable for his words. The evidence suggests that Eric Cooper, for all his umpire pap in the post-game interview, was literally right there and heard the whole exchange and made decisions that included Hundley’s role. If Puig “has a reputation” and might be punished along those lines, then I think it’s only reasonable that the Giants, who “have a reputation” when it comes to Puig, should face punishment along those same lines.
I can’t believe I’m calling for Nick Hundley to be suspended, too, but going after Yasiel Puig because you like to see a 6-2, 240 lb manchild throw a temper tantrum in front of 50,000 people and maybe a million more on TV (I’m being liberal in my estimate there since nobody in LA can watch the Dodgers) is a sick, asshole move and, well, I like to see sick assholes lose their shit and throw a temper tantrum when they get punished.
UPDATE: I’d be an even bigger asshole than I already am if I didn’t include this —
It wasn’t the worst thing I’ve ever seen. Intensity like this makes the rivalry more fun. And I like Hundley’s comment that it stays on the field. Way better than Strickland’s non-apology.— HashielDammit (@Logan_P_Hesse) August 15, 2018
Hundley gets credit (from me at least) by not taking the opportunity in the post-game presser to double down or drag the situation out anymore than it did. Hundley was awarded the Willie Mac Award last year, meaning the Giants think he’s the most inspirational player on the team and plays in the spirit of Willie McCovey, so I understand how my “sick asshole” labeling is upsetting for its harshness and how easy it is for a blogger turd like me who doesn’t really know anything to toss out something like that for mass consumption as though it was a definitive examination.
Still, if the Giants really don’t like Puig but think they are better human beings than Puig who know how to play the game the right way or whatever it is that they think and let show out on the field, then I think we should actually see them be better than the Puig and, you know, suck it up and go play some baseball.