Retaliation

Rays’ Reaction to HBP: Isolated Incident, or is This What Baseball Looks Like?

Bautista stares

Aaaaaand we’re back. After a flurry of retaliation talk surrounding the Red Sox and Orioles last week, we got some fireworks north of the border yesterday. Or at least a sparkler or two.

It started on Saturday, when Toronto’s Joe Miangini hit Rays outfielder Steven Souza in the hand with a pitch. It was almost certainly unintentional—a running, letter-high fastball that Souza failed to spin away from. The pitch was tight, but not egregiously so. Not to mention that the Jays led by only three, and with one out and the heart of Tampa Bay’s order coming up, it was no time to cede free baserunners.

That Souza had to be removed from the game on Saturday and then, despite X-rays coming back negative, sat out on Sunday, might have provided Archer’s motivation to respond. On Sunday,  the right-hander threw a fastball behind Jose Bautista, hip high. From the looks of it, he could well have been aiming at the batter but missed his spot. (Watch it here.)

As retaliation is concerned, below the waist is the way to go … but was it remotely necessary? Miangini’s pitch was accidental and in no way reckless. He wasn’t taking unnecessary liberties with Tampa Bay players. His behavior did not merit addressing.

Which is the point of purpose pitches, even those that intentionally miss their targets. If Archer was trying to show teammates that he’s looking out for their well-being, a response to something actually nefarious, or at least willfully negligent, would be in order. What he gave us on Sunday was not that.

Bautista gave Archer a long staredown at the plate, then had some words for him after flying out to right field. Plate ump Jim Wolf issued a warning after the pitch, curtailing further such liberties.

Perhaps that was the end of it. Because Archer didn’t actually hit Bautista, that should be the end of it. But maybe we’re sliding into a new world order in baseball—which is actually an old world order in baseball—where retaliation for offenses that shouldn’t even register, a pendulum swing away from the influx of free-wheeling bat flippers, is the new way of doing business.

Maybe that’s the case, but hopefully not.

 

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2 thoughts on “Rays’ Reaction to HBP: Isolated Incident, or is This What Baseball Looks Like?

  1. Biagini’s reaction to the HBP should have shown louder than words that it wasn’t intentional. As soon as I saw it, I figured Bautista was due for a home run. I guess since Archer missed by a few inches, it only stands to reason that Bautista would be off by a few inches as well, but it was still a good clutch double.

  2. It’s kind of the way of things that pitchers don’t exhibit remorse for most hit batters (save for those who have been egregiously injured). For the most part they just grit their teeth, spin back toward the mound and proceed apace. I’m okay with this. If offering an apology equates to lack of intention (and therefore lack of suspension), even the guilty will apologize. And heaven help us if baseball turns into an on-field apology-fest.

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