By in large the masses seem to support Joe Kelly for throwing at Houston Astros players, some going so far as to lift him up as a hero. Others have decided to pretend it is simple assault.
Silly. In a word its just a childish take that quite honestly only someone who doesn’t understand the game could have. Why? Well let’s talk about it.
First, do pitchers throw at batters on purpose? Absolutely. Can you prove intent? Hardly.
Think about Monday’s game against the Brewers, Kyle Crick threw a ‘slider’ inside to Ryan Braun that started too far inside and didn’t break as intended. He had an open base and a lesser batter in the on-deck circle, maybe hitting him would have been a better outcome than what Braun ended up doing. Ryan looked like Daredevil avoiding it, and at this point in his career you can’t trust him to accurately hit anything. So, it’s pretty easy to say that was an unintentional throw at a player. There also isn’t any history between those two, while Crick might have a reputation as a hot head here in the Burgh, he doesn’t have that stigma league wide.
Joe Kelly has had control issues for years, and I personally believe he was throwing at the Astros players, but proving this guy who couldn’t hit the strike zone the entire outing suddenly harnessed the command to aim at someone’s dome is impossible to prove. That’s exactly why he’ll appeal and most likely win. 8 games is excessive and I see no way it stands.
Just like you can’t prove that his pick-off attempts were designed to hit the player trying to slide back in to first. They probably were if I’m honest, but they’re also proper technique. You want the ball as close to where the tag would be as you can get, but some pitchers have learned it’s a way to bean a player without the penalties that typically accompany it.
I’m not into it personally, I’d rather pitchers not throw at batters but it’s part of the game. There are batters who will and would take liberties if the game tried to legislate it out. You have to pitch inside to prevent batters from lunging over the plate or worse setting up over the plate. As a pitcher you can’t sacrifice half the strike zone because you might hit a batter, and you can’t render yourself ineffective in order to avoid it.
If you pitch up and in, you’re going to hit batters. I happen to think that’s part of the game, and an important one. If that happens to be in the head, good luck proving it was purposeful, have you seen Richard Rodriguez try to throw a high fastball where the catcher has to jump out of his crouch to catch it? If he’s aiming for the up and in quadrant of the strike zone or for that matter off the plate inside, guess what’s going to happen on occasion.
Now toss in a visible beef. Say Rodriguez is actively arguing with say Harrison Bader. He throws inside and Bader does his usual act of literally not moving a muscle to avoid being hit. Boom. Should he be suspended or are you basing intent on your perceived idea that they had beef so of course he did it on purpose?
I’m not saying bean balls don’t happen, nor am I saying none of them are pretty clear. But all the factors I just mentioned pale in comparison to one over arching truth; the players by in large support it.
I guess we caring individuals in the fan base should save them from themselves, right? We should cry from the mountain tops that this ‘violence’ must stop and get these players to understand the threat.
Do you honestly think by the time players reach the Majors they have no idea this is a thing? Look at the mess NFL officiating has become trying to legislate headshots out of the game, we’re to the point where a linebacker can get pushed and fall backward into a QB grazing his helmet and be penalized 15 yards.
That wasn’t the intent of the new rules, but when you start trying to decipher the intent of every play by every player you quickly realize you can’t do it. So, you institute something much closer to zero tolerance.
If baseball ever did this, pitching might as well just be a pitching machine, because the entire inner third of the plate would be damn near off limits. It would be an unintended consequence for an altruistic idea, man if that doesn’t sum up a whole bunch of stupid stuff, we’re dealing with in the world I don’t know what does.
I’m not going to celebrate Joe Kelly as some kind of hero, he isn’t. He’s a mediocre pitcher who the Dodgers don’t really feel they’ll miss so he executed taking ten pounds of flesh. At least that’s my take on it, thank god I don’t have to prove it.