Francisco Rodriguez, Intimidation, Willie Harris

Minor Dustup Refreshes Code Tenets (or, Don’t Mess with K-Rod)

So Francisco Rodriguez hit Willie Harris on the arm, an act for which Harris didn’t much care. The Nationals outfielder spouted some choice words on his way to first, offering a brief glance toward the mound en route.

That was all it took to elicit K-Rod’s full attention. The reliever strode with purpose toward first base, apparently ready to settle whatever grudge Harris may have been fostering.

(For what it’s worth, the pitch did not appear to be thrown with intention—Harris said as much later—and the hitter barely moved to avoid it.  Watch the video here.)

The unwritten rules involved here are subtle, but readily apparent:

  • If you have something to say to a member of the opposing team, come out and say it. It’s not so different than a spousal relationship; indignancies muttered under one’s breath are often more inflammatory than venom spewed at top volume. (This is really more an unwritten rule of life than of baseball.)
  • If you don’t make an effort to get out of the way of a pitch, you don’t have much to complain about.
  • Intimidation is everything. While Harris said all the right things after the game—“I ain’t no little boy or no punk, either,” he told reporters after the game. “I’m a man just like he is, I ain’t scared of him”—his reaction on the field as Rodriguez approached looked to be anything but aggressive. If one of them is to devote extra consideration to the possibilities of another showdown the next time they face each other, the smart money’s on Harris.

    The nature of Rodriguez’s job description means that he’s almost exclusively used in tight games, so the chances of him exacting further retribution this season are slim. And considering that Mets pitchers have yet to do anything about the parade of inside fastballs sent toward David Wright leads one to believe that they’re not going to pick up the torch on behalf of their closer, either.

    Stay tuned.

    – Jason