Baseball Notes for June 17, 2013: MLB and Its Hypocritical Stance on Brawls

MacWilliams

Although a major brawl last week between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Arizona Diamondbacks resulted in eight suspensions and a dozen fines, the incident is yet another reminder of what a joke on-field fights and the subsequent reaction of Major League Baseball have become.

Tempers flared after Dodgers’ rookie sensation Yasiel Puig was hit in the face by a pitch, followed by a back-and-forth retaliatory actions by both sides.

Managers Don Mattingly and Kirk Gibson were banned for one game each, while Dodgers’ hitting coach Mark McGwire earned two games because of behavior which resembled an enraged rhinoceros. The punishments are more of a show than punitive in nature. It seems that MLB’s reaction to such incidents is really an unsaid acceptance that brawls are good for business because of the attention they draw. If baseball truly wanted to crack down on on-field fighting, they could do so very easily. Their insistence in staying with the status quo indicates a sanctioning of loosely-controlled violence that spices up games. No matter how egregious brawls are, suspensions and fines are generally light and often reduced upon appeal (although it is rare that an explanation is given in such cases). Continue reading

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Former Brooklyn Dodgers Pitcher Glenn Mickens Recalls a Wonderful Career

For every star player with a lengthy major league baseball career, there are dozens who only have a “cup of coffee.” The experiences of those short-time players run the gamut of having a moment or two of glory to playing for hapless second division teams. Glenn Mickens was one of those “cup of coffee” players, but has incredibly rich memories of his brief time in the majors.

Mickens, a right-handed pitcher, was signed by the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1950. He made quick work of the low minors, earning a call-up to Brooklyn in July, 1953. He appeared in a total of 4 games for the eventual National League champs, who ran away with the pennant with 105 wins. During his time with Brooklyn Mickens made 2 starts and 2 relief appearances. In 6.1 innings, he had a 0-1 record and 11.37 ERA. Unfortunately, after he was sent back down, he never made it back to majors. Continue reading

Can Valentine Enliven A Now-Tame Rivalry?

The Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees used to hate each other. There was the famous rivalry and fight between Carlton Fisk and Thurman Munson. There was the brawl we remember mostly for Pedro Martinez throwing old Don Zimmer to the ground. It was war and there were no prisoners taken. But all that has been replaced by politeness and mutual respect. Derek Jeter says nice things about the Red Sox. The Red Sox say nice things about the Yankees. David Ortiz defended Jeter during last year’s contract dispute. It’s all become quite vanilla.

Part of the problem (if you prefer animosity to peace) started with the general managers. Theo Epstein and Brian Cashman liked each other and respected each other. Oh sure, we still got John Henry calling the Yankees an evil empire, but Cashman and Epstein set a tone of mutual admiration. The rivalry had become chivalrous. Terry Francona was about as polite about the Yankees as you could be as a rival manager and Joe Girardi responded similarly to questions about the Red Sox.

Even the two teams’ respective fans have toned it down in recent years. When you read comments from hard-core fans on major sport sites, Red Sox fans respect Jeter and Mariano Rivera and Yankee fans respect Dustin Pedroia and Adrian Gonzalez. There are exceptions, but on the whole, civility has become the norm and the rivalry is only about who will finish on top of the division. It’s become impersonal.

Heck, the only manager who seems to rile the Yankees up these days is Buck S

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