Scout’s Eye: Head Hunting 101

Professional sports players, are some of the biggest, strongest and toughest people you will ever meet in your life. That being said, when they do things to try and hurt an opposing player, they are looked at like defenders of the universe to their home team fans. The same adults who go to work and feed their families everyday, would consider them criminals in the real world for their hideous actions. When people tell me that “It is part of the game,” it makes me cringe.

What part of the game is it to blindside some defenseless player in football or hockey with the force of a car hitting a deer on a dark highway? What part off the game is it when a player going up for a shot in basketball, has his legs cut out from under him? Making him fall from as much as 6 feet where he will land on a hard wood surface. What part of the game is it when a pitcher who knows he will never come to bat in the American League, throws a 95 mph rock at a batters head or any other part of his body.

We hear, “Oh these guys police themselves and they all know it’s coming.” How crazy is the thinking of all of us as fans and players, to say “ It’s ok to hit a batter in the side, thigh or back but not in the head.” Oh boy, spoken like a real Roman watching the Gladiators of 264 BC at the Colosseum. All Hail, Caesar!

There is a difference between a brushback pitch and trying to hit someone. I was taught how to keep someone off of the plate, without becoming part of a crime scene. The brushback is part of the game not hitting batters. Learn how to do it the right way. When guys are being hit or knocked down because they slid hard into a base that is wrong. The two players involved should deal with it, not the pitchers. As just noted by ESPN Senior Writer David Schoenfield recently, Sandy Koufax won 27 games with a 1.73 ERA in 1966 and didn’t hit a single batter all season. That is who pitchers should try to emulate. Not a hitman from “The Godfather.”

Yes most of the hit batters are not intentional. Pitches sometimes really do get away from a pitcher. When it is intentional, you would have to be Goofy’s sidekick to not know it was done on propose. We are told it was for a reason. What reason could possibly make sense? Giving pitchers a license to harm someone who is no threat to them physically is stupid. Think about it, what threat is a batter to a pitcher 60 feet 6 inches away from him? “Oh, this batter hit 2 homers off of me today. I’m going to hit him in the head.” Don’t hit the batter, go hit yourself Bozo for throwing him 2 meatballs. And what is up with knocking down the next batter who comes up after a pitcher gives up a homer or two? What’s the reason for that? He didn’t do anything to hurt the pitchers eggshell ego.

The thinking that it’s a macho tough guy thing, just isn’t doing it for me. Defending your teammate, sending a message or retaliation. I get it, but when baseball makes rules about protecting the catcher from being bowled over at the plate and the must slide rule at second, why do they look the other way when pitches are thrown at batters? Ever hear of Tony Conigliaro? Look up his being hit by a headshot and how it changed his life. Today’s so called tough guy pitchers need to read about Tony C. They need to understand just what power they have and how it could effect the ending of someone’s career or worse, their life.

It is almost like today’s players don’t know too much about the history of the game. I don’t know, maybe they are a new generation who could not afford to go to what has become an expensive day at the ballpark as kids. A place where they could have studied how to “Play The Game” correctly. Maybe too many hours on PlayStation baseball over the years and not enough time playing with their friends in a sandlot. A place where they could learn how to respect each other.

It’s a darn shame, but young kids want to emulate their heroes and that will breed some headhunters in amateur baseball. Somehow I get the feeling that all I am saying will be for naught. Too bad.

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