MLB Week in Review (May 26-June 1)

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Out of all of the big sports in North America, baseball is one of the few not known for the physicality of the game.

Sure there are moments when contact is not only possible but encouraged, although those moments are rare and becoming even more rare with new rules.

Baseball is about the skill and precision that a player needs to hit a ball travelling at 70-100 mph without knowing where in that range it will be or where the ball will end up.

It is about the small things that make up the game rather than the physical contact and running through that contact that highlights games like hockey and football.

With the lack of physical violence that plays out in games, some may see the sport as one without a lot of passion though.

That couldn’t be further from the truth though as players still have that passion for the game and it comes out throughout the season.

There is no time when that passion comes out more than in those pesky unwritten rules of baseball that continue to be debated and will likely never stop being debated.

Those rules often state that every action has a reaction and that is seen more than any other time when a player gets hit by a ball.

Sometimes it is as simple as a pitcher making a mistake and hitting the batter completely by mistake.

Often those mistakes go unpunished as players brush it off as a part of the game as they move on to first base.

Sometimes it is a lot less innocent and a pitcher deliberately plunks a batter for any number of reasons.

Sometimes it is that they took offence to a longer than normal home run trot that last time up or other times it can be payback for a hit batter by the other teams.

Sometimes it is as simple as a player that people simply don’t like for a history between the two teams.

That is where the line gets murky though as a simple mistake can turn into something completely different very quickly.

That line seemed a little murky this past week when Giants reliever Hunter Strickland hit Washington outfield Bryce Harper in the eighth inning of their game this week.

On an initial look it seemed pretty innocent and then Harper began screaming at Strickland only to charge the mound.

Upon closer inspection, though the action taken by Strickland seemed to be far more premeditated than initially thought.baseball-sidebar

Three years ago Strickland was touched up for two home runs by Harper in the playoffs and apparently still held a grudge about those runs.

He waited a long time for his chance but got it this week and plunked Harper as apparent payback for the home runs.

It was one of those strange moments in baseball and those unwritten rules where people were a little more confused.

It is sure that Strickland remembers Harper hitting home runs off of him but Harper has hit home runs off of a lot of people.

Holding a grudge for that long seems strange and then to hit Harper for doing his job seems even more strange.

It seemed as though it was entirely Strickland’s decision to do it and so the teams never really got into beyond the bench clearing that happened.

It is the constant debate about those unwritten rules because everyone seems to have a different interpretation of those rules.

For Strickland, two home runs were reason enough to hit Harper but to most, it seemed like a stretch.

That is part of the reason why Strickland got the worst of the suspensions earning 6-games while Harper only received four games, which was later reduced to three games.

However, this came up the fact is that baseball’s less than physical nature took a back seat for a game and became a massive talking point.

The MLB, of course, frowns at these actions which is why they handed Harper a suspension for charging the mound.

That is only the public side though as they may not want to project the perception of liking when things like this happen but they certainly do in the private rooms.

It becomes a massive story and everyone tunes in because it is so rare that something like this happens in a sport where teams play 162 games a year.

It sparks debate about the reasoning and whether or not charging the mound was justified or not.

Although baseball is one of the least physical sports in North America it remains one that, albeit secretly, loves when the game does get physical.

 

Extra Innings

Another Golden Voice Gone
A year after Vin Scully, one of the greatest announcers in the history of the game, walked away from the booth another legendary announcer took his moment to announce his retirement. Chicago White Sox announcer, Ken “Hawk” Harrelson officially announced that this will be his final season in the booth. He is certainly a polarising figure and won’t be celebrated like Scully was but his “Put it on the Board, YYYYESS!!” home run calls are some of the most familiar in baseball. He will leave with a complicated legacy but people will remember him for better or for worse when he leaves the booth.

Bush No Longer Bidding
In what seems like a weekly story where nothing is ever settled the Miami Marlins are still looking for an official owner not named Jeffery Loria. It was reported that Derek Jeter and Jeb Bush were close to a deal to buy the team so much so that it seemed like a done deal. This week Bush dropped out of the attempt to buy the team leaving the ownership still up for grabs. Without the ability to raise the money, $1.3 Billion, Bush has abandoned his bid while Jeter is now left without a major partner although he is free to find others to try to help him out.

Trout Under the Knife
Mike Trout is among the best players in the game right now and as one of the few bright spots on the Los Angeles Angels. That bright spot won’t be on the field very much during the heart of the season though as he will undergo surgery on his thumb keeping him out for 6-8 weeks. The real question now becomes if he can still compete for the MVP with limited time on the field, many think he can.

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