Stop the Fighting
When the Blue Jays set a major league record by hitting 10 homers in one game against the Orioles in 1987, Baltimore catcher Terry Kennedy was asked why no Toronto hitter was brushed back. "Every home run pitch was right down the middle," said Kennedy. "They should have been hit for homers. Why knock anyone down?"
It's too bad that more major leaguers aren't as logical and professional as Kennedy. Two of the three ugly brawls that have taken place in the last few weeks featured a familiar scenario: Batter hits a homer, next batter gets hit, fight ensues. On June 18, San Diego's Gary Sheffield belted a grand slam off San Francisco's Trevor Wilson, who then hit Fred McGriff with a pitch. McGriff charged the mound. On June 24, Cincinnati's Hal Morris hit a three-run homer off Houston's Pete Harnisch, who then threw behind Reggie Sanders, and both benches emptied.
"It doesn't make any sense," says Padres pitcher Larry Andersen. "How many homers are hit off good pitches down and away, where the hitter reaches for it? Not many. If you make a bad pitch and someone hits a home run, don't take it out on someone else."
A pitcher often does take out his frustration on the next batter, though. By that logic, says Andersen, "if the pitcher makes a good pitch and strikes the hitter out, then the hitter should get to throw his bat at the pitcher, right? This brawling has got to stop. I'm all for pitching inside, but I have a real problem with throwing at a guy's head."
Longer suspensions and stiffer fines—say, a minimum of seven days and $5,000 for any pitcher who intentionally throws at a hitter, and the same for any hitter who charges the mound—might be the first step toward eliminating basebrawls. Something must be done before someone gets seriously hurt. In that Reds-Astros fight, Houston coach Ed Ott, a former Pennsylvania stale high school wrestling champion, had a choke hold on Cincinnati reliever Rob Dibble at the bottom of a big pileup. "I watched him turn red, purple, then blue," Ott said. "I could have held him 45 more seconds until he turned black. Maybe now he holds more value for life, because I spared him this time."
And maybe the league offices should be doing more to prevent these dangerous confrontations.
Get the Vote Out
Some horrible injustices will be committed in the All-Star balloting unless the voters get to work. Consider the voting for the starting National League catcher. Darren Daulton of the Phillies has driven in more runs (54 through Sunday) than Benito Santiago, Mike Scioscia and Gary Carter have all told, yet those three catchers are ahead of him in the voting, which ends on July 5. Here are the four other players most in need of your votes:
Edgar Martinez, Mariners. He has clearly been the best third baseman in the American League this season, leading the position in eight offensive categories, including batting (.312 at week's end), slugging (.554) and homers (12). Only the names of the top eight vote-getters at the infield positions are released, and Martinez's was not one of them. Among those he trailed was Minnesota's Mike Pagliarulo, who had played in six games through Sunday. Martinez and Rafael Palmeiro of the Rangers are the only two major leaguers who batted at least .300 and hit 10 or more homers in each of the last two seasons, but Martinez's career high in homers before this season was 14 and his RBI high was 52. As of Sunday he had already knocked in 38 runs. "People said I should hit more homers because I was a third baseman, so two years ago, I tried to improve," says Martinez, who then began lifting weights. "Now I'm pulling the ball more and hitting with more power."