What I’ve Got: Baseball Retaliation

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Baseball is a sport littered with “unwritten rules.” Among these rules are: no bunting when a pitcher has a no-hitter going, don’t bat flip a homerun, and don’t step on the pitcher’s mound if you’re not the pitcher. While there are no official penalties for breaking any of these rules, baseball players will often retaliate with some baseball vigilante justice when the members of the opposing team go against the unwritten rulebook. Usually this revenge comes in the form of getting intentionally hit by a pitch when the player is at bat his next time up. The pitcher will send a fastball (usually upwards of 90 MPH) at the batter’s torso or back if he has broken one of these rules.

I think there is no place in the game for baseball retaliation. For one, strategically it is dumb. It allows the other team to put a runner on first base instead of getting an out. Giving the other team an upper hand is no way to retaliate. Second, there are so many unwritten rules, that it is possible that some of these are broken accidentally. For example, when a rookie player marvels at a homerun (which is an offense), he is not trying to showboat, but is usually just wide-eyed with amazement that he has hit a homerun at the Major League level and is soaking it in. Lastly, it opens up the door for dangerous injuries. Just this weekend, Red Sox pitcher Matt Barnes was ejected from a game for throwing at Orioles player Manny Machado after Machado’s aggressive slide injured a Red Sox player. Whether intentional or not, Barnes’ pitch sailed inches from Machado’s head. While Barnes was trying to protect his own player and retaliate for Machado’s transgression, it was a pitch that was inches away from potential disaster.

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