Thursday, June 05, 2008


There was a time that I lived for a baseball fight. It was how the game policed itself, and it wasn't frivolous. Guys hated each other, so they fought, or guys were legitimately wronged (usually), so they fought.

Lately, though, these fights seem to have started over less-than-valid reasons. I mean, to not throw one at guys like Manny Ramirez for posing after a home run, but to do it because a pitcher unintentionally hit your star player, or whatever, it seems less valid. (The other reason I hate to see fights now is because of an incident in 1995 or 1996. Mets-Cubs at Wrigley, a huge fight breaks out, somehow two guys uninvolved in the original incident end up tussling, and Turk Wendell of the Cubs ended up swinging Rico Brogna of the Mets into the brick wall behind the plate, and Brogna hurt his shoulder and was never the same. I really liked Brogna, and I always traced his future difficulties back to this fight.) If this all sounds familiar, that's because this is something I feel strongly about, and I've written about it before.

Anyway, there's also these unwritten rules in baseball, which I'll write about in depth some other time, but CoCo Crisp felt that on Wednesday night he was wronged by a violation of an unwritten rule - You never put your knee down, as a defender, to block a base, when the runner is going in headfirst.

Now, I'll admit it - one of the big reasons I don't like these unwritten rules is because I would probably be a dirty player in baseball. Your goal as the runner is to get to second base. My goal as the shortstop/second baseman would be to tag you out. You want to slide headfirst, that's your choice, but I'm putting my knee down and blocking that bag to achieve my goal. I'd probably do it if you went feet first, too, at my own peril. So that's my rationalization.

So here's the scene-set. Crisp tries to steal second, Jason Bartlett puts his knee down, Crisp hurts his thumb, they exchange words, though it seems good-natured - Bartlett doesn't look like he knows Crisp is upset at him. Then the next time on base, Crisp tries to steal second, he is out by a mile, but goes tumbling into Iwamura, who's covering the bag, in a hard slide, for retaliation. He ends up jawing with the Rays manager, Joe Maddon.

Now, Thursday, Crisp leads off the second inning, and James Shields throws at his knees. Everyone saw it coming, the announcers were talking about it. So what does Crisp do? After saying the night before he hopes they don't throw at anyone else but him (I think meaning he didn't want them to take out his actions on someone else), he charges the mound, dodges a punch by Shields, proceeds to get pummeled by about four Rays, Jonny Gomes (punk #1 in the majors in my book) and Carl Crawford included. Maybe Crisp had it coming - if he was so concerned he was going to settle this situation, why didn't he go after Iwamura or Bartlett instead of Shields? I guess part of the problem in baseball is that there is no eye for an eye, especially when American League pitchers are involved.

These fights get me fired up. I don't like seeing them. It's been a long time, too, since the Mets were involved in something like this. Last year, there was the dust-up at third base on the second-to-last day of the season against the Marlins, but that was a mere dust-up. As much as I hate the brawls, a big brouhaha might get the Mets really going.

JOHNNYMETS EXCLUSIVE: Thursday was the MLB Draft. The Mets, with the 33rd overall pick, took RHP Bradley Holt out of UNC-Wilmington. That's right in the heart of the Southern Bureau. As a result, the Southern Bureau is going to have a full preview of Holt, complete with video. Here's a taste:

He’s a tall right handed pitcher that throws hard. His fastball was clocked in the high 90s - and he is a big strikeout guy. He finished 11-1 this season, an ERA of 3.18.

A full report is coming tomorrow on 200 Miles From the Citi.

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