Hey, did you watch the nationally-televised baseball game last night? It actually did not involve the Yankees or the Cardinals – it was a nightcap between the first-place Nationals and thePhiladelphia Phillies, which the Phillies won 9-3. The game got testy right from the start, when Phililes’ pitcher Cole Hamels deliberately hit Nationals’ left fielder Bryce Harper on the back in the bottom of the first inning (Hamels admitted after the game that he did mean to hit Harper as a “welcome to the big leagues” gesture). Harper answered by scoring a run, but not in a traditional fashion. With Hamels distractedly throwing pickoff attempts to first base, Harper stole home and scored the Nationals’ first run. I was so excited to see such a seldom-done feat that I called everyone into the living room to watch the replay. When I was a little girl, my father used to tell me how he saw Puerto Rican baseball player Victor Pellot (known in the US as “Vic Power”) steal home twice in one game; now my son can tell his kids that he saw Bryce Harper do the same thing. It was pretty cool!
Unfortunately, the game’s excitement pretty much ended there for the Nationals (except for Nats’ pitcher Jordan Zimmermann hitting Cole Hamels in the top of the third). In the sixth inning, right fielder Jayson Werth broke his left wrist trying to field a ball – the same wrist he had broken before that caused him to miss the entire 2006 season. While Werth’s lack of hitting won’t be missed, he is an excellent right fielder and will be hard to replace out there. The Nationals lost 9-3, but they won the series and are still in first place. Now they go on to Pittsburgh, where I have a bet going with a co-worker. If the Pirates win the series, he owes me a cookie and vice versa. I can taste the chocolate chips now…
So this whole thing about hitting batters on purpose… what’s that all about? Despite being female, I like to think that I know as much about baseball as many men out there; but this hitting batters thing, I think that’s a guy thing that I’ll never understand. Nolan Ryan was a big bully in his day, hitting batters on purpose or pitching them way inside to make them flinch. Why is that? I find that so immature! And then later in the game, the pitcher from the team whose batter was hit feels obligated to hit a batter too. Then the umpires are obligated to issue a warning and the fans have to boo. Is all this really necessary? At least we don’t have bench-clearing brawls anymore, like we did during the “steroid era” – I saw many a fight involving Manny Ramirez, Roger Clemens, and now-in-prison Lenny Dykstra. Those episodes were considered “entertaining,” yet one guy spits at an umpire and his Hall of Fame membership gets questioned! Just because you’re playing a boy’s game doesn’t mean you have to act like little boys – grow up and stop hitting each other! That’s about as stupid as the intentional walk!
OK, cleansing breath… time to think about more positive things, like the fact that Albert Pujols FINALLY hit a home run and Robinson Canó hit a grand slam yesterday. See how exciting baseball can still be without people hitting each other? Let’s just all get along, and everything will be fine.
About the Author
Written by Marien Hornyak
I was born and raised in Puerto Rico but have lived in the continental US for 22 years. I have a BS in Athletic Training and a MEd in Sport Management, where I did my thesis on "The History of Baseball Litigation." I am a wife, mother of 2, and self-proclaimed "Baseball Nerd." My favorite baseball players include Roberto Clemente, Kirby Puckett, and Iván Rodriguez.