Over the past several weeks there have been several incidents of pitchers throwing at batters. I'm going to detail two recent episodes and show how at times it is appropriate to throw at hitters. Let's see if you recognize any of these scenarios.
Pitcher A is locked in a pitching dual with the opposing team's ace. Late in the game Pitcher A gives up a homer to Hitter A who stands in the box and admires his big fly. After a few tense moments Pitcher A gets into a verbal spar with Hitter A to get moving. The homeplate umpire warns both benches before any fisticuffs erupt. Hitter B steps up to hit in the next at bat and promptly watches a fastball coming at his head which he avoids. Pitcher A is then thrown out of the game, the benches empty but no fight ensues. Pitcher A later receives a 6 game suspension from the league for his actions.
Pitcher B is struggling in his outing. After giving up his fifth homerun in the game, he clearly becomes frustrated and can be seen fuming. Hitter C steps up to the plate after the latest homer and gets a ball thrown at his hip and manages to avoid it. Pitcher B, clearly not satisfied with the last pitch, throws another pitch at the batter's hip and is ejected from the game. Pitcher B walks off the field, empties his locker and tells clubhouse staff that he's going to retire. Pitcher B later receives a 30 day ban from his team.
Do any of these situations sound familiar? If you guessed that Pitcher A was Jered Weaver and Pitcher B was Carlos Zambrano then give yourself a big pat on the shoulder. In my opinion Weaver was justified in what he did, unlike Zambrano who probably should not be playing baseball ever again.
In Weaver's case it is becoming more and more popular for a hitter to stand there and watch homeruns fly out of the park without punishment. Back in the day if you did that pitchers like Don Drysdale or Bob Gibson would ensure that you never did it again. There's a certain respect for the game that needs to occur here so batters really need to put their heads down and round the bases and celebrate with your team in your dugout. I understand that homeruns are MLB's moneymaker but as a pitcher myself I understand the frustration in giving one up and having to watch a fool make a mockery of you. Maybe there should be fines for doing it like in the NFL where touchdown celebrations have been cut down.
Carlos Zambrano's situation should not have occurred period. Just because you're having a bad day doesn't mean you get to take it out on the other team. He deserved his team suspension and should just retire. Somebody with an ego that volatile needs help.
Let's end this with one of my own personal stories. My team was playing a game against one of the top teams in the league. After our team was down by like 8 runs the other team started making a mockery of us and started a game of whoever hit into an out had to do pushups in the dugout which became very annoying. I came in to pitch in an effort to stop the bleeding and I got the first batter I faced to pop out to the shortstop. As I turned to watch my fielder catch the ball, the batter dropped to the ground and did a set of pushups right on homeplate. Sure enough the next guy I faced had one thrown at his head which he ducked out of the way of. I made no attempt to throw at him again as I was only looking to send a message. After the inning ended, the offending batter came up to me to express no ill will with what happened. I told him flat out if I ever faced him again that he'd be eating a fastball. Never again did that team try anything stupid with us from that point on.