- TOP PLAYERSOffensePABLO S. TORRE | August 20, 2012
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The fact is that umpires were instructed many years ago by the presidents of both major leagues that a pitcher who fired at a batter's head was to be warned and, upon repetition of the offense, was to be thrown out of the game, with an automatic suspension to follow.
Never, to my knowledge, has the directive been invoked in the American League, though certainly no day passes in which some pitcher does not throw at some batter with intent to intimidate him.
The umpires, who have trouble enough ruling on things they can see, understandably have declined to accept any part of the assignment to impose penalties for things they merely suspect. And they can never do more than suspect premeditation in a fast ball thrown in the vicinity of a batter's head.
It will always be so until some means is found to legislate wildness out of baseball or to enforce a decree against wildness high and inside while sanctioning wildness low and outside.
And if the umpires did take on the job they have been ordered to perform, it's a fair bet that they would absolve the guilty Jims and convict the innocent Joes.
The beanball, or duster, will become extinct as an instrument of baseball tactics when war and crime and other manifestations of the inbred cussed-ness of the human race become extinct.
The basic difficulty lies in the fact that ballplayers and managers don't really want it outlawed, since it's a useful device in the hands of their own pitchers. They holler only when it's used against them.