I don’t know if Andrew McCutchen’s injury had anything to do with getting hit with a 95 MPH fastball from Randall Delgado. What I do know is that McCutchen WAS hit with a 95 MPH fastball, and the next day he goes down with an injury swinging a bat, which is something he’s managed to do his entire career without an injury. The place he injured? Just where he was hit with that fastball.
You could draw theories about how the Delgado pitch injured McCutchen. Maybe it was a direct result of the pitch. Maybe the pitch was the start of a chain reaction. You can’t say for sure that the pitch caused the injury, like you could with the pitch that hit Paul Goldschmidt in the hand. But if you’re saying that the pitch probably played some impact, then you’re not just throwing out wild theories.
Even if the pitch didn’t play any impact in McCutchen’s injury, and even if this is all just the biggest coincidence ever, there is one thing I know: the Diamondbacks need to be disciplined by Major League Baseball.
This all started because Ernesto Frieri hit Paul Goldschmidt in the hand with a pitch that got away from him. It was an inside fastball that faded in late in the pitch, and hit Goldschmidt as he was checking his swing. You can usually tell when a pitch is intentionally thrown at a batter. That pitch doesn’t break at the last second and hit the smallest target on a player’s body, while that target is moving. If Ernesto Frieri had that kind of command on his pitches, then he’d be the best pitcher in baseball today. Usually the pitches that are thrown intentionally are thrown straight, and to a large target on the body — like the middle of the back, for example.
Over at Grantland, Michael Baumann wrote a great article about the situation involving the Diamondbacks, and how this isn’t the first time this has happened. One of the links in the article talks about how hitting players in retaliation is an institutional policy for the Diamondbacks. The article talks about how Arizona did the same thing to Troy Tulowitzki during a Spring Training game. The summary of the article is as follows, with my emphasis in bold.
For MLB to take no action on this is shameful, and they will regret it once concerns of serious injury, like the Rockies had with Tulowitzki on Friday, are fully realized. As long as Towers is allowed to preach violence and retaliation, as long as violence and retaliation are requirements of wearing the Diamondbacks uniform, it is only a matter of time.
Tulowitzki wasn’t injured, although it gave the Rockies a scare. MLB did nothing. Now we’ve got McCutchen, who is injured, but there’s not 100% proof that the pitch is what caused the injury. And so far, MLB is doing nothing.
What’s even crazier is that the Rockies said nothing. They downplayed the incident. Now the Pirates are doing the same thing, with Clint Hurdle saying that he didn’t believe the hit by pitch resulted in an injury. This is an obvious situation where a team is targeting the best players on other teams, all in retaliation for their own players getting unintentionally hit.
Meanwhile, on the other side of this situation, the Diamondbacks are speaking out. Tony LaRussa, the chief baseball officer of the Diamondbacks, defended his team, and complained about the Pirates pitching inside. And in the process, he offered one of the most ridiculous lines I’ve ever heard, and that’s including every argument ever about how pitchers can be valued by their won/loss record.
La Russa said the issue is how some teams, the Pirates being one of them, have embraced the philosophy of pitching up and in to get hitters out. That can lead to incidents like what happened with Goldschmidt.
“So what’s happened is some teams have developed this idea that they can pitch in and up,” La Russa said. “Well it’s got rewards because I don’t care if you’re a right-hander or left-hander, that spot right there, nobody gets to that pitch. So it’s a hole for everybody. The problem is, unless you have Greg Maddux pitching, that’s a very risky area to throw in.”
**Regardless of whether it’s a right-hander or a left-hander, there’s this spot where no one can get a pitch.
**Teams know this, and as a result, they pitch to that spot. You know, because baseball is a game where you try to score more runs than the other team, and a big way to do this is finding a way where the other team doesn’t get hits.
**Unless you’re Greg Maddux, you shouldn’t be allowed to pitch inside. Let’s ignore the fact that batters stand right on top of the plate, which leaves no margin for error when pitching inside.
Overall, the idea that pitching inside is the problem here is overlooking the real problem. Pitching inside is risky. It’s going to lead to some hit batters. It’s not a coincidence that the Pirates are constantly at or near the top of the league in hit batters at every level from the majors through the bottom level of the minors. It’s not that they’re throwing at people. It’s because they’re throwing inside, and that’s one of the risks. But there’s a reward that comes with that risk, and the reward in this case is what the game is all about — finding a way to win.
The real problem is what happened when Randall Delgado took the mound. He threw at McCutchen. He did so because the Diamondbacks were looking for revenge. This doesn’t involve risks or rewards. It’s just dirty baseball.
What the Pirates are doing is the equivalent to speeding. Everyone does it, and there are risks, but there can also be some potential rewards. What the Diamondbacks are doing is the equivalent to getting in your car and running down someone, all because they accidentally hit your car with their car.
The big issue here is that nothing is being done about this. Major League Baseball did nothing when Tulowitzki just missed an injury. They’re doing nothing now that McCutchen is injured. And for whatever reason, the teams who are the victims aren’t going after Arizona. Meanwhile, the Diamondbacks are making public statements against those teams, basically explaining why they had it coming, and acting like it’s totally normal for Delgado to hit McCutchen.
Eventually someone will get seriously injured because of this. And when that happens, we’ll be able to look back at this article, and the articles linked above, and every other article that could have predicted this. And MLB will have done nothing to prevent all of this from happening.
Links and Notes