It’s been a great week for double-dipped stupidity. First Michael Pineda, now Bo Porter.
As if the Houston manager’s act last week wasn’t thin enough—he apparently had his pitcher throw at Oakland’s Jed Lowrie for bunting in the first inning, then shouted the shortstop down after he flied out to end the frame—he reprised it yesterday.
Paul Clemens, the same guy who threw at (and missed) Lowrie last time, was again the man on the mound. This time he connected, drilling him in the backside. (Watch it here.) The next batter, Josh Donaldson hit a two-run vengeance homer, but since the A’s were already ahead, 8-1, it made little difference. Porter’s team continue to be the Astros.
Donaldson’s homer came off of Anthony Bass, because plate ump Toby Basner, showing outstanding situational awareness, tossed Clemens immediately after Lowry was drilled.
Lowrie called it “flat-out embarrassing” in an MLB.com report.
“There’s no other way to say it,” he said. “Every perspective, every angle you look at it, it’s embarrassing. That kind of conduct should be condemned.”
He’s absolutely right. Clemens went about things the right way for a guy with vendetta on the mind—every one of his questionable pitches came in below the waist—but there’s no mistaking the fact that Porter’s leadership is fast becoming reckless. After the game, the manager refused to criticize the act, going so far as to justify it as “part of the game” because Houston’s “George Springer got hit tonight, too.”
It’s one thing to teach a young team to stand up for itself. It’s another to overreact to a bogus charge, then double down on it later. The Gerrit Cole-Carlos Gomez affair earlier in the week had people across the spectrum decrying the sport’s unwritten rules, but they had it wrong—this was the incident that makes the Code look bad.
Perhaps Porter feels that his best chance to get runners on base this season is to turn them all into targets by pissing off the opposition with an ongoing display of irrational behavior.
Shouldn’t be long, now.
6 thoughts on “Throw at Me Once, Shame on You; Throw at Me Twice … Holy Hell, You Really Threw at Me Twice for That?”
Porter is really handling this in about the worst way possible. I don’t believe for a moment that he and Clemens considered this whole thing “over” after last week’s incident, and the standard “it just got away from me” line is tired. I know we’re not just going to start hearing people say “Yeah, I meant to hit the guy,” though.
It all goes back to the “When is the game really over?” mentality, and the core truth is “Not until the final out.” It’s not a matter of the NFL/NBA/NHL where it’s a blowout and time is counting down to the end. You still have to get the outs and there have been crazy late-inning rallies before.
Again, the starting point for all this was a 7-0 lead in the first inning with the Astros still playing the shift on Lowrie. One of the ways to beat the shift that people accept is laying down a bunt. He did and Porter didn’t like it. We get Clemens throwing at Lowrie (and between his legs), then Porter coming out to yell at him (and the Astros announcers saying nobody from the A’s came out to support Lowrie is just a silly speculation that tries to say Lowrie was in the wrong), and now it comes back up a week later.
Donaldson blasting a home run right afterward is a perfect way to top it off, too. I don’t really care about a fine or suspension for Porter or Clemens, but it’d be nice to hear of someone in the Astros organization actually sitting down with Porter to explain the concept that if he expects the other guys not to bunt because he considers the game out of reach already, he can take the defensive shift off as well. Like I said last week, Porter doesn’t get to have it both ways.
(And let’s not forget they threw Lowrie out on the bunt attempt, too.)
The crazy part is, there are those who use your exact arguments when discussing games in the seventh or eighth inning. I’ll even agree with them on occasion, depending on the spread of the score and various situational details. But to even think about this kind of thing in the first inning is completely unhinged.
Don’t get me wrong – I think there are certain cases where games are out of reach late. 10-2, 8-1, stuff like that. But even an 8-1 game can quickly become 8-6 with a few baserunners and a big home run. All it takes is one pitcher crapping the bed and a few key hits, and it’s a completely different situation. You just never know.
This kind of stuff has come up before with bunting to break up a no hitter or perfect game. If it’s a blowout and the game’s not in doubt, it looks bush league. But, if it’s 1-0, 2-0, 3-0, the guy’s just trying to get a rally going any way he can. Can’t be upset with that.
It’s like Matt Garza flipping out over Eric Sogard laying down that squeeze bunt last year for an insurance run, which also happened to exploit some of Garza’s problems fielding the ball. Then again, Garza is a known hothead. Either way, that was all in the context of winning a close game. Anything goes. A blowout? Different story entirely.
But yeah, for Porter to get as upset as he did about that first inning last week? It really calls him into question.
Another great post with much food for the mind.
Turbow writes in part: “this was the incident that makes the Code look bad.”
Perhaps, but in the cold light of day, only to people who don’t understand it, don’t like it, or both. Porter ordered what he did because he’s an animal, not out of any respect for the game. If anyone’s going to be fined here, and I hope Porter is, the Astros organization deserves 10x the penalty and put on notice that the next time Porter does this, draft picks are in the balance.
I’m starting to believe Bo Porter is now on the path toward getting players hurt.
Last night’s game was actually close, though more because of some poor defense on both sides. Going to the 9th it was 5-5.
Then the A’s scored 7 times and before the game ended, Porter got himself ejected. How?
In the top of the 9th Brandon Moss was hit by a pitch. Looked innocent enough. With runners on 1st and 2nd, Craig Gentry bunted down the 3B side and the pitcher looked like he was going to try to throw to 3B but couldn’t come up with the ball. With the infield in, Daric Barton hit a semi-sharp grounder that got past Jose Altuve for 2 runs, then George Springer overran it to allow another run to score.
(If the Astros actually got the out at 3B on the bunt, Altuve is probably at double play depth and Barton’s grounder would have probably been a routine GIDP, top of the inning over, no runs scored.)
It ends up capped off by 2-run HR by Josh Donaldson, then Moss was hit again (first time in the entire history of the A’s, OAK/KC/PHI, that one batter was hit twice in the same inning), though it also didn’t seem intentional.
By then, though, I think the A’s were getting a bit tired of it. In the bottom of the 9th Jason Castro was plunked and it did look on purpose. The plate ump, Jordan Baker, immediately warned both sides and started walking Castro down to 1B when he was looking upset. Porter came out, said a couple things, and quickly got tossed. The game ended without further incident.
Now, the fun quotes.
Porter: “If you’re going to toss our guy yesterday, it looked pretty intentional to me. It’s a judgment call on the umpire’s part, and he didn’t think it was intentional. I said my piece and what I thought, and he threw me out of the game.”
Moss didn’t think he was thrown at intentionally at all on Friday, even after Donaldson’s homer, but he quoted Porter’s words back, saying, “Bo said it yesterday: ‘The game of baseball takes care of itself,’ and that’s what happened. You’ve got to stand by your words.”
Barton: “It makes me mad. We’re not all about a beanball war, but it’s pretty crappy when they hit our guys consistently.”
These were pulled from Susan Slusser’s game recap: http://blog.sfgate.com/athletics/2014/04/25/bartons-bases-clearing-bouncer-propels-as-rout-of-astros/
Before the night was over, Jane Lee (A’s MLB writer) tweeted: This just in. Porter said you-know-what again tonight: “The game of baseball takes care of itself. It’s a beautiful game we have here.”
Porter seems to have lost it as far as I’m concerned. If this keeps up, I can’t imagine he’ll be long for that job.