Kevin Towers, longtime GM of the Padres, lost his battle with thyroid cancer at age 56. Despite winning four division championships and the National League pennant in 1998, Towers is more recently remembered for his general managerial tenure with the Arizona Diamondbacks from 2011 to 2014. Notable to this space, it was there that he publicly made his mark as an overt champion of old-school retaliation tactics.
It started following the 2013 season, when Towers went on his weekly radio show in Phoenix and talked about how his club was going to adopt “an eye for an eye” mentality when it came to retaliation, and warned that pitchers who “don’t feel comfortable doing it … probably don’t belong in a Diamondbacks uniform.”
The following spring, Arizona pitcher Wade Miley—who was notably on the mound all three times that first baseman Paul Goldschmidt had been drilled the previous season, and who had failed to respond to any of them—went out of his way to hit Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki in obvious retaliation for Mark Trumbo getting plunked. The move had Towers written all over it.
During the regular season that year, Pittsburgh right-hander Ernesto Frieri clipped Goldschmidt on the hand—a clear mistake, but one for which Towers’ team opted to respond, given that it fractured a bone. The next day, Arizona pitcher Randal Delgado slung a fastball into Andrew McCutchen’s spine.
At the end of the season, Tony La Russa canned the GM.
Agree or disagree with Towers’ inclinations—in the modern game he was a distinct outlier—there’s no question that he gave us all some stuff to talk about. RIP.