There is a history of violence in Major League Baseball.
While the brutality of the sport may never be on par with the NFL or NHL, the physical altercations and grievances that occur over the course of a 162 game season are always plentiful and at times… inevitable. We all know the drill. The rising tensions of the game, combine with variables such as showboating and a defining thirst for retaliation conspire to reach a boiling point. In most cases, this occurs at the batters expense by way of a hit by pitch or brushback pitch.
At this point things can go one of two ways:
1. The situation is quickly diffused by the umpires and a few wise and intelligent peacemakers. Maybe the benches empty, but for the most part nothing more than a handful of scornful looks, a few shoves, and maybe a word or two about each others mothers are exchanged. Before long, order is restored and a sense of normalcy returns as the focus returns to baseball.
2. All hell breaks loose. The mound is charged, punches are thrown, players become indecipherable as the scrum grows, and the family atmosphere of a baseball game promptly dissipates into thin air. As something more akin to a Royal Rumble transpires on the field, attempts to separate and remove the most volatile of the combatants ensue as a rivalry is birthed or amplified.
Following last weeks Dodgers-Diamondbacks melee, I initiated a long exhaustive search into the the dark recesses of my memory bank for similar situations involving the Athletics. While I could vaguely recall a few select episodes from my youth, I realized that current incarnations of the A’s have often avoided such unfortunate game delays. Although there have been minor qualms such as last Thursday’s in-game accusation of Robinson Cano stealing signs by Derek Norris, and last seasons ruffling of Yankee feathers by the “Once Clap” dugout chant led by Jonny Gomes. These isolated events have not led to fisticuffs, and I couldn’t be more thankful.
As any Oakland supporter will tell you, a large key to the recent success has been spurred by the relative good health of the ball club. The last thing the Athletics need would be to lose a key player to injury in a pointless brawl, or to suspension in the days to follow. For now, I hope that the day never comes that Grant Balfour and company feel the need to storm the field in an exchange of blows with another team. For as entertaining as that may be, it will be no substitute to defeating a team the old fashioned way. By winning the game.
For those hungry for an A’s flashback and a good old fashion brawl; please feast your eyes on this relic from the archives. During a game between the A’s and Angels in May of 1995, things got a bit testy when the immortal Jim Corsi hit Tim Salmon with a pitch. Former Angel and current A’s hitting coach Chili Davis took offense and the situation quickly escalated to a full-scale brouhaha of impressive levels. Please make note of Tony La Russa giving the “crazy eyes” to Chuck Finley. The 90’s, were such simpler times.