Arizona Diamondbacks: Dirtiest Team In Baseball?
By Joseph Jacquez
Aug 2, 2014; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates center fielder Andrew McCutchen (22) reacts after getting hit with a pitch in the ninth inning against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field. Mandatory Credit: Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports
The Arizona Diamondbacks have been harassed time and time again after Randell Delgado intentionally hit Pirates star OF Andrew McCutchen with a 95 mph fastball in the spine. This was a direct result of Paul Goldschmidt getting hit in the hand in the 9th inning by Pirates reliever Ernesto Frieri.
For the last 19 hours, it was almost certain that McCutchen was going on the 15 day D.L, and could miss up to a month. It was reported today that the Pirates center-fielder only has a fractured rib, and will not go on the D.L.
This is obviously a big relief to the Pirates, who are in the middle of a tight division race with the Cardinals and Brewers. Yet the media, and Pirates fans are still making this a bigger deal than it should be.
McCutchen is sole reason why the Pirates are back in the race, and is one of the faces of the game. So naturally the national media has been slamming the Dbacks for the past three days. Many are calling for Manager Kirk Gibson‘s head, and some are calling the Snakes the most intimidating team in baseball, and a bunch outlaws.
So the question becomes are the Diamondbacks the dirtiest team in baseball? Cork Gaines of Business Insider seems to think so. This is what he wrote yesterday:
“Former Diamondbacks manager Bob Melvin was a well-known enforcer of baseball’s idiotic “unwritten rules”and things have changed very little with the team since Kirk Gibson took over in 2010. This is why many consider the Diamondbacks the dirtiest team in baseball.”
He continued citing two examples other than Saturday’s incident including this year’s plunking of Ryan Braun, and last year’s brawl with the Dodgers:
“Earlier this season, after a Milwaukee Brewers pitcher unintentionally hit one batter and had a breaking ball sail a little too close to the head of a second batter, Diamondbacks pitcher Evan Marshall was ejected for hitting Ryan Braun.”
“Last year, during a game against the Dodgers, Diamondbacks pitcher Ian Kennedy hit both Yasiel Puig and pitcher Zack Greinke in the head with pitches. The latter was apparently in retaliation for Greinke hitting a Diamondbacks player in the previous inning.”
He concluded by accusing the Diamondbacks of risking players careers on purpose:
“Part of the game of baseball is enforcement of the unwritten rules and players being able to police themselves. But the Diamondbacks have repeatedly shown that they will put the careers of other players at risk over the slightest of offenses.”
First of all, technically any team that hits a batter on purpose is putting a career at risk, and plenty of teams do it more often than Arizona.
Secondly, I think this story is getting overblown. It is clear that the Diamondbacks organizational belief is an eye for an eye. If you hit one of our stars, we will hit one of yours. Dbacks G.M Kevin Towers said last fall that he was tired of opposing starters pitching his batters inside, and he wanted his pitchers to retaliate. That is the view of many organizations, and has been for years.
Now the Dbacks have become the villains of baseball, and many are wondering how Tony La Russa will react. He has the reputation of allowing retaliation, and there is also a chance Major League Baseball will suspend both Delgado and Gibson.
The bottom line is that baseball’s unwritten rules are out of control, and retaliation is part of the game, and has been going on for years and years. It’s not like the Pirates haven’t done the same thing in the past, and that is not being discussed. The Pirates led the league in hit batters last season, and are leading that category again this season.
Many don’t remember that the Pirates did the exact same thing less than two weeks ago. On July 22nd, Pirates pitcher Justin Wilson and manager Clint Hurdle were ejected after Wilson hit the Dodgers Justin Turner in the left elbow as a direct result of McCutchen getting drilled.
Most teams in baseball use retaliation, and this incident involving Goldschmidt and McCutchen is just one example.
Clearly the national media likes to pick on Arizona, and the Dbacks because of the state’s reputation. If the national media was concerned by retaliation, they would slam any team including the Pirates that hit batters. Who knows maybe this incident will finally make Major League Baseball address the issue of unwritten rules.
I am not in anyway condemning what the Snakes did. I think it’s wrong to hit batters intentionally after the other team hit your star player on accident, but it’s not like the Dbacks are the only team that have done this. I also didn’t like the time that the Dbacks choose to hit McCutchen, and I didn’t like the pitch sequence Delgado choose to use. Still, Major League Baseball and the National Media need to be consistent.
Every team that hits batters intentionally should be called the “dirtiest team in baseball,” and every manager that approves of it should be suspended if this incident is such a big deal. That is the only way for the MLB to send a message to the whole league, instead of picking on one team and one incident.
This idea that the Dbacks are the dirtiest team in baseball is absurd. What is dirty is the unwritten rule book, and it’s clear that the MLB needs to do something about it.