Tuesday, April 22, 2014
Suspensions fair for Brewers-Pirates brawl
By David Schoenfield
The suspensions are in from Sunday's Brewers-Pirates fracas and they seem pretty fair to me:
Notably absent is Pirates pitcher Gerrit Cole, who kind of instigated the whole thing when he yelled at Gomez after Gomez's triple. Still, yelling at a guy isn't the same thing as throwing at a batter's head, so I'm not sure you can really call Cole an instigator here just because Gomez reacted (Brewers fans, of course, will disagree).
Anyway, I think there's a bigger picture here. This whole "play the game the right way" thing has gotten out of control. What's the right way? As Jon Paul Morosi wrote on FOX:
But for the most part, Gomez needs to be celebrated -- not discouraged -- for what he brings to major league baseball. At a time when the sport's message on instant replay and home-plate collisions has become muddled, Gomez illuminates an even greater concern: Why do major league players take exception to peers who have the audacity to enjoy themselves on a baseball field?
If Gomez's story sounds familiar, it should. Replace "Carlos Gomez" with "Yasiel Puig" or "Jose Fernandez," and the basic theme holds true: A Latin American-born player has become a star in the major leagues, and he's supposed to "tone down" his celebrations and remove the individuality from his game because "we don't do that here."
In my chat Tuesday, we had a big discussion about Gomez and his theatrics on the field. Gomez, who also had a flare-up against the Braves last September, is the common link, one reader wrote. Jacob from Georgia wrote, "Why do people keep pretending the [Brian] McCann/Gomez incident was about pimping a home run? It's blatantly clear to anyone who saw it happen that McCann and [Freddie] Freeman and everybody else were simply sticking up for [Paul] Maholm. Guys have pimped homers against the Braves before plenty of times, and we haven't seen McCann do anything. McCann got in Gomez's face because Gomez made a fool of himself by screaming at Maholm unprovoked. I guess it makes for a better mindless meme if we pretend that McCann is the rules police though, regardless of how little sense it makes."
Of course, it's not that simple, is it? Maholm had hit Gomez earlier in the season so Gomez probably had a rush of adrenaline after hitting the home run, screamed, and then had Freeman yelling at him as he rounded first base and McCann standing in the middle of the baseline as he neared home plate. McCann, of course, had another incident earlier in September with Fernandez. The Braves also had a bench-clearing incident against the Nationals in August after Julio Teheran hit Bryce Harper.
Plus, all this showing enjoyment and emotion on the field isn't a new thing. Pete Rose ran to first base on walks; he wasn't given the nickname "Charlie Hustle" out of admiration. Rickey Henderson had his snap catch in the outfield and was showboating home runs in the '80s. Dennis Eckersley used to point at batters after striking them out. Roger Clemens showed up to a playoff game with war paint on his face. You don't think Babe Ruth styled a few home runs?
I mean, we can go back to the days when players hit home runs and ran the bases with their heads down and didn't even stop as they crossed home plate. Or we can enjoy that there are different ways to play the game.