Bat tossing, Carlos Gomez, Don't Showboat

Go-Go Gone-Gone: Gomez Pimps, Explodes Over Tongue Lashing


Pimping is a ballplayer’s prerogative. But if one chooses to style in the batter’s box after hitting a long fly ball, one must be prepared should the opposition cry foul. (One must also make sure the ball leaves the ballpark.)

Oh, Carlos. Did Brian McCann teach you nothing?

In the third inning at Pittsburgh yesterday, Milwaukee outfielder Carlos Gomez sent a ball to deepest center field. Thinking it gone, he flipped his bat and trotted to first, picking up speed only upon seeing his drive bounce off the fence. By that time, of course, he was rounding first base. Because he’s fast, and because the ball caromed away from a leaping Andrew McCutchen, Gomez still made it to third without much trouble.

It’s after he reached third that the trouble started.

Pirates pitcher Gerrit Cole, backing up the play, had some words for Gomez as he walked back to the mound. Rather than absorbing them and moving on, however, Gomez stalked toward Cole, shouting all the while. When the Pirates bench emptied in response, he started swinging at anybody wearing a yellow cap. (Watch it here.)

Said Cole in an report: “I grabbed the ball from [third baseman Josh] Harrison and I said, ‘If you’re going to hit a home run, you can watch it. If you’re going to hit a fly ball to center field, don’t watch it.’ ”

Gomez got pushed to the ground in the melee. Pirates outfielder Travis Snider—the first one out of the dugout—ended up with a cut on his face after being hit by Milwaukee’s Martin Maldonado (an attack upon an unaware player, to judge by the reaction in the Pittsburgh clubhouse after the game, which the Pirates did not appear inclined to forget).

In the immediate aftermath, the first thing to pop to mind was Gomez’s confrontation last year with McCann, then the Braves catcher. Earlier, Gomez had been drilled by Atlanta pitcher Paul Maholm, and subsequently didn’t just pimp a homer—he shouted at Maholm all the way around the bases. If you don’t remember McCann’s wild reaction, it’s worth reading about, here.

(You can go even farther back, to 2010, to see Gomez acting similarly against the Twins. At least the guy’s consistent.)

It is the right of Cole and every other pitcher to offer verbal warnings to those who they feel are showing them up. It is Gomez’s right to respond in kind—verbally—which is what he insists he was doing, right up to the point that the Pirates’ dugout emptied.

“[Cole tells] me something, I tell him something back, everything is normal, I talk to the umpire,” Gomez said. “And then Snider comes like a superhero and tries to throw punches at everybody. I just tried to protect myself.”

Judging by the videotape, however, Gomez appears to have thrown the first punch … not to mention the part where he approached Cole rather than shouting from his station upon third. One can hardly fault the Pirates for responding to a guy charging their pitcher, even he did it in slow motion.

(Amid it all, Gomez broke another unwritten rule—not just of baseball, but of life: Throwing the first punch when surrounded by friends of the guy you’re swinging at rarely ends well for you. Aside from his third base coach, Gomez was encircled by Pirates at the time of the incident.)

If nothing else, Gomez reinforced a notion that had become apparent during last year’s incident with McMann: It’s not too tough to get inside his head. Yesterday, all it took were a few stern words from Cole, and Gomez over-reacted himself right into an ejection. This would matter less if Gomez was a marginal player, but the guy is a centerpiece of his team’s offense.

Getting his goat is now officially on the table as a legitimate strategy; don’t be surprised to see it enacted once the games really start do matter down the stretch.


4 thoughts on “Go-Go Gone-Gone: Gomez Pimps, Explodes Over Tongue Lashing

  1. Kruk made an interesting point on SNB, calling out not only Go-Go but Cole for a violation… “Don’t say something to him. Next time he’s up, just drill him. Let his teammates tell him in the dugout ‘You’re probably getting drilled.'” But of course that doesn’t get Gomez tossed.

    Great writing as per usual. You really have a way with words. One typo I think… ‘Gerrit’ Cole. Any chance blog readers can buy advance copies of the A’s book?

  2. Kruk’s not wrong, of course, but that’s not the only option. Pitchers across the land consider a verbal warning to be a legitimate intermediary step before plunking a guy — a tack with which I agree. Gomez’s response would have been at least a bit more understandable had he actually been drilled.

    Thanks for the kind words … and the copy editing. (Problem fixed.)

    No advance copies to buy yet — the thing is still being written. I’m wildly appreciative of the interest, though. More updates as events warrant.

  3. Don’t agree with you at all. Cole’s reaction was childish, and I wish he would have quoted his own words to what they really were lie the fact that he yelled obscenities. Cole should expect a reaction when yelling an obscenity at someone. Then he walks away like a coward and let’s his teammates do his fighting. If it was bad what Gomez did, then it was very weak what Cole did.

    1. Agree or disagree about whether Cole deserved to have gotten upset, I credit him for communicating verbally, rather than planting a fastball into the ribcage of Gomez or one of his teammates. This was in no way a situation that merited a fight, so I certainly don’t blame Cole for refusing to get dragged into one. (That detail aside, it seems rare to me that a starting pitcher — other than one being charged atop the mound — will ever lead a team’s charge into battle. There’s simply too much risk to their pitching arms.)

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