Scout’s Take: In Baseball, Some People Don’t Have To Play By The Rules

Why am I not writing about New York baseball today? There are two reasons.  Number one is because of what happened in Oakland California on Sunday. When Oakland A’s outfielder Ramón Laureano took exception to being hit by a pitch for the second time in the game, he walked to first base gesturing to Astros rookie pitcher Humberto Castellanos. He was not happy. When he got to the bag, he suddenly charged the Astros’ dugout. That was because Houston hitting coach Alex Cintron was throwing insulting remarks at him. Trying to get Laureano to do something that would get him tossed. That is how it has been done in professional baseball for many years. It worked.
What followed was another thing that is part of baseball, a brawl. There is not a snowball’s chance in the heat of Texas, that players would ever not come to the aid of a teammate. With both teams on top of each other and no fan noise, it made everything being said by the players and umpires quite clear. Anyone who was watching on TV, as well as MLB officials heard a lot. Laureano was tossed along with teammates, catcher Austin Allen and pitcher Mike Fiers. Fiers was the former Houston pitcher who blew the whistle on the Astros in their cheating scandal. Houston catcher Dustin Garneau, who left the bench to tackle Laureano was not tossed nor the instigating Cintron. Laureano was hit by Houston pitchers twice in this game and three times in this series. A total of five A’s hitters were hit by the Astro’s staff. Not one Astro hitter was hit in this series. No pitcher from the cheating Texas team were even warned let alone tossed.
The A’s are in first place in the American League West. The Astros are in an unfamiliar third place. Guess they removed all the garbage pails from behind the dugouts in MLB ballparks. The whole thing smells like the Fresh Kills Landfill in Staten Island in that, the Astros seem to be getting treated differently than the rest of baseball.
I predicted this in February of this year At that time, commissioner Rob Manfred, came out with the punishment for the Astros and added that any pitcher who intentionality throws at an Astro player, will be given fines and suspensions more severe than in the past. I said then, what about if an Astros pitcher hits someone intentionality? Does he get a free pass? Well it kind of looks like that now. Oakland batters were hit five times during this series, no Houston hitters were plunked. No Houston pitcher was ejected and not even a warning was issued to an Astro’s pitcher. Joe Kelly of the Dodgers got an eight game suspension that he has appealed. The equivalent to a 22 game suspension in this 60 game schedule. He never hit either Alex Bregman or Carlos Correa, he just threw wild on a few pitches. Something he has done his whole career.

The second reason for this non NY baseball story, is that MLB is sending a message that all is ok in the world and it is safe to not practice social distancing during the pandemic. The A’s broadcasters were chuckling and then said: “This is gonna cost some players some games and that is why you don’t want to do this.” What? Does anyone in baseball from the top to the bottom and broadcasters are at the bottom, have any idea what is at stake here? Fines and games lost? Please, get your head out of the sand fellas. I do not blame the players for doing what is normal to them. It is how the game is played. It is how they police themselves and that will never change. In the heat of the moment, people do things without thinking about the consequences.

Kind of what Commissioner Rob Manfred has done with his decision to not allow the players to police themselves and giving the Astros players the feeling that they are protected from the rest of the league. Giving them a pass on things that other teams are beginning to get punished severely for doing when they play the Astros. I don’t condone trying to hurt another player but there are things that are a part of the game. Sending a message has always been an important part of the game. For pitchers it comes in the form of keeping a hitter off the plate or protecting one of your own hitters who is being targeted. The only thing that makes all of that work, is if it is all done on an equal plane.
The commissioner got exactly what he wanted. The A’s pitchers never retaliated after their teammates got hit, five times. Unlike the Astros who cheated to win a World Series, the A’s obeyed the rules set down by the commissioner.
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