Jayson Werth, Retaliation

Darling on Werth Drilling: ‘Boy, Was That Obvious’

Werth drilledWhy Frank Francisco drilled Jayson Werth on Thursday is not yet clear. That it was intentional—and stupid—was obvious to at least three people: Werth, Bryce Harper and Mets broadcaster Ron Darling.

It came with no outs in the eighth inning, on a 3-0 fastball, after Francisco had already allowed doubles to the first two batters he faced, extending Washington’s lead to 5-2. (The Nats ended up winning, 7-2. At this point, frustration is as good a guess as any when it comes to pinpointing Francisco’s motivation.)

Werth knew it was intentional when it happened. So, apparently did plate ump Anthony Recker, who, despite the fact that Werth made no move toward the mound, grabbed the barrel of his bat as he lingered near the plate, staring at Francisco.

“Boy, was that obvious,” said Darling on the broadcast. “For you folks at home—and you hear me all the time say, ‘That wasn’t intentional’—well, this one was intentional.”

Darling was then asked by broadcaster Gary Cohen why Francisco would drill a batter in that situation.

Darling’s reply: “Because he’s a fool.” (Watch it here.)

Werth wouldn’t comment after the game, but handled things in the moment, taking out shortstop Reuben Tejada moments later with an aggressive slide at second base. Harper, who reached on a fielder’s choice, did something similar to second baseman Daniel Murphy.

(The idea was summed up by Bob Brenly in The Baseball Codes: “I’ve gotten on first base when I’ve been hit by a pitch and told the first baseman, ‘If there’s a ground ball hit I’m going to fuck up one of your middle infielders, and [pointing to the mound] you can tell him that it was his fault.’ That’s a way you can get them to police themselves. A pitcher drills somebody just because he feels like it, and if one of the middle infielders gets flipped out there he’s going to tell the pitcher to knock it off. Ultimately, that’s all we want anyway—just play the game the right way.”)

“That was total B.S. what Francisco did there,” said a scout in attendance, in a Washington Post report. “Almost got his shortstop’s ankle broken.”

Sure enough, Nationals pitchers never retaliated. If Werth’s slide wasn’t enough for them, they’ll have to wait until next year to address the issue, because the teams don’t meet again this season.

Update (9/16): At least one Mets pitcher wasn’t too pleased.


Esmerling Vasquez, Jason Marquis, Jayson Werth, Justin Upton, Retaliation, Wilson Ramos

You Talk too Much, you Trot too Slow: Wilson Ramos, Come on Down!

Wilson Ramos approaches home plate.


A lot of things happened last week between the Diamondbacks and Nationals. Jayson Werth was hit three times, and made scary eyes at pitcher Ian Kennedy after the last one. An inning later, Washington’s Jason Marquis drilled Justin Upton for the fourth time in the series, and was tossed—as was his manager, Jim Riggleman. (Watch it here.)

In the eighth, Arizona reliever Esmerling Vasquez hit Danny Espinosa with a clearly intentional fastball (watch it here), bringing Werth to the top step of the dugout with a look that said he wanted nothing more than one more provocation to charge the mound.

It’s can all be dissected down to its core. Marquis denied intent, and while it certainly seemed like he meant it, it must be noted that a 1-0 game is not the time to settle scores. Also, it would have been entirely reasonable for plate ump Rob Drake to give Marquis one shot at response (or even acknowledge that the pitcher probably didn’t want to put anybody else on base) before bringing down the hammer. Still, Marquis drew a five-game suspension.

(To Drake’s benefit, Kennedy hit Michael Morse two batters after he hit Werth, and was not tossed out because it was clearly unintentional.)

Riggleman and D-Backs skipper Kirk Gibson were also suspended. Vasquez drew a three-game ban of his own, which seems well worth it for the third-year pitcher in light of the fact that his teammates appreciate him for having done something others on the staff have shied away from.

Still, despite the drama, it was all very straightforward stuff—you-hit-me, I-hit-you. A standard retaliatory dance.

Wilson Ramos, however, raised the stakes one batter after Espinosa was hit, when he slowed down his home run trot after blasting an eighth-inning bomb, and then slowed it down some more—all the way into the realm of clownishness. (Watch it here.)

Larry Granillo’s Tater Trot Tracker pegged Ramos’ journey at 28 seconds (despite the fact that he ran hard most of the way to first)—more than 20 percent slower than his usually glacial pace.

From Granillo:

My first thought, as I watched the home run the first time, was that it looked like Ramos had slowed down into his final walk—you know how trotters tend to slow down those last 10 or 15 feet before home plate—about 250 feet too early.

But it only got worse. At both second and third base, you can see Ramos go into an even slower trot before essentially strolling the last 45 feet.

The truly crazy part? After the game, Ramos said this:

“I didn’t feel bad. I wanted to see those guys angry.”

Admitting one’s sins  is a cardinal Code violation (although even in the best circumstances it’s difficult to deny ownership over one’s own jogging pace.) Unlike a pitcher who admits to hitting a batter intentionally, this is not an actionable violation as far as the league office is concerned. It is, however, a stratospheric level of trash talk. And Ramos got his wish in seeing them angry, at least as far as Matt Williams was concerned.

Williams, Arizona’s third-base coach, is one of the premiere Code warriors of his generation. He is the standard-bearer when it comes to circling the bases properly after hitting a homer—head down and quickly.

Also, he’s never been shy about informing players—teammates and opposition alike—should they be so foolish as to violate an unwritten rule in his presence. As Ramos circled the bases, Williams visibly steamed.

(Dan Steinberg has some great screenshots of it over at the Washington Post. He also passes along this quote from TV analyst Mark Grace: “If that look is directed towards you, folks? Go home. I suggest you go home when Matt Williams looks at you like that.”)

Ramos got his reward (his trot) and then got it again (his comments), but he’ll almost certainly pay the price. The teams next meet on Aug. 22. The question now seems less about whether Ramos will be drilled, but when—and maybe even how many times.

Considering that Werth, Upton and their teammates already have a short fuse for this type of thing when it concerns this matchup, there’s plenty to look forward to.

– Jason