There’s a reason that baseball doesn’t have the chest-thumping of the NBA, or the equivalent of a football player leaping up after a two-yard carry with a first-down signal.
Baseball doesn’t have much tolerance for that kind of thing. Save for game-winning plays, look-at-me moments are nearly universally frowned upon.
Which is part of the reason that Andres Torres and the Giants aren’t looking at Chad Qualls in a friendly light today.
With the Giants trailing 5-3 in the seventh, Torres won his first battle with Qualls, working back from a 1-2 count to see 16 pitches—fouling off 11 of them in an at-bat that took more than eight minutes—before drawing a base on balls. He then stole second, and advanced to third on an infield grounder.
That’s where he was when a Qualls pitch squirted away from catcher Nick Hundley; after delaying to assess the situation, Torres belatedly broke for home.
Hundley’s toss to Qualls, covering the plate, was in plenty of time. Qualls went into a bit of a slide while making the tag and essentially sat on the plate to keep Torres from touching it; the putout ended the inning with San Francisco’s best hitter, Pablo Sandoval, up to bat and the tying run at second. (Watch it here.)
It’s understandable that Qualls was pleased with the development, especially in light of the frustration he must have felt after Torres’ marathon at-bat. Which doesn’t diminish the fact that he spiked the baseball and yelled at Torres on his way back to the dugout.
“That’s not professional,” Torres told reporters after the game. “I don’t believe in making a show on the field.”
Torres talked about respect, both for the game itself and for one’s opponents. He got passionate when discussing his own protracted path to the big leagues, intoning that he’s come to far, at too great a price, to be disrespected like that on the field. (Watch the entire exchange here.)
Direct payback for Qualls is unlikely, since, as a reliever, it’s a longshot that he’ll come to bat against the Giants. Retaliation against one of the Padres’ hitters isn’t out of the question but is similarly unlikely unless San Francisco breaks through with a passel of early runs today, giving their pitchers a bit of leeway when it comes to things like settling scores.
Then again, these teams face each other 14 more times this year. There is, as the saying goes, a lot of baseball yet to be played.
Update: This just in from Dan Brown of the San Jose Mercury News, who tracked down Qualls before today’s game: The reliever doesn’t feel good about what he did. “I’m sorry that it happened,” he said. “I meant no disrespect. That’s not what I intended. I play this game with passion and to, me, that situation was as elevated as it gets for my type of inning.”