The Loop

Beanballs are stupid and pointlessly violent, and should be outlawed

June 17, 2019
Yankee pitcher Roger Clemens throws a piece of broken bat ba

New York Daily News Archive

You might have seen, earlier in the week, when Max Muncy absolutely lambasted a Madison Bumgarner fastball into the bay, and Bumgarner got mad because he took too long to run to first base:

You might have also heard Muncy's hilarious comeback: "If you don't want me to watch the ball, you can go get it out of the ocean." (Note: This alleged comeback was relayed to reporters by Muncy himself, after the game, so it may have been a case of juicing up his own wit, but I'll allow it.)

All in all, Muncy is on the side of good here—he didn't take that long to head to first, and his celebration was fairly minimal. Bumgarner acted like a baby, and needs to chill out and take his lumps.

But it got me thinking—the next time Bumgarner faces Muncy, there's a decent chance he'll bean him. Those chances would be around 100% if they played in the American League, but the fact that Bumgarner has to bat, and thus face retaliation, might give him second thoughts. And that got me thinking about beanballs in general, and how ridiculous they are. I'm tempted to compare them to fights in NHL hockey, but hockey fights have a purpose—as bizarre as the tradition is, it ultimately boils down to protecting players.

Beanballs have no such purpose. Almost every beanball happens because some pitcher gets pissy about an imagined slight (or, worse, just gets pissy that he's getting shelled by the batter or his team), or a teammate forces the pitcher to get pissy on his behalf. It inspires endless cycles of revenge, leads to brawls, and generally just subjects players to injury for nothing more than—at best—enforcing some "unwritten rule" or another.

It's also a sure sign that the pitcher is a dick. Remember how Roger Clemens beaned Mike Piazza in the head because Piazza was too good against him, and then threw a bat at him in the World Series in an obvious act of roid rage? That all happened because Roger Clemens is a dick. And remember when Mike Mussina was supposed to hit him back the next year, but clearly didn't want to, and then threw at his knees and missed him anyway? That's because Mike Mussina is not a dick.

I know the obvious counter-argument: You can't always tell when a batter gets hit intentionally. Yes, of course, but I'm fine giving umpires or review officials the leeway to make judgment calls. It's fairly obvious when an HBP is unintentional, and in that case, no harm, no foul—it's part of the game. But when there's a reasonable suspicion that a pitcher plunks someone on purpose, the penalty needs to be far harsher. As in, ban the guy for a month or more, the same way you'd ban a basketball player who threw a ball at an opponent's head, or an NHL player who swung his stick like a sword and broke someone's nose.

I mean, think about it: Throwing a baseball at someone on purpose is basically an act of criminal violence, and it has the potential to do real damage. Why does it still have a place in professional sports in 2019?

Worst Possible "Sports" Twitter Debut of the Week/Month/Year/Lifetime: O.J. Simpson

It's one thing for O.J. Simpson to join Twitter, and by "it's one thing," I mean "it's pretty terrible." But to join Twitter, make a video for your post, and say, "I got a little gettin' even to do?" That's hyperbolically bad. Watch:

That's so ominous, Juice! Who are you getting even with?? It's not me, is it? There were a lot of good responses, but I think this (extremely dark) one was my favorite:

I'm not sure how sports Twitter can ever get this bad again. Maybe if John Wayne Gacy joined? I think he coached Little League...(checks Wikipedia)...never mind, he's been dead for 25 years.

Greatest Trade of the Week: New Orleans Pelicans

Yes, they lost Anthony Davis, but that was always going to happen—getting three first-round picks along with Brandon Ingram, Josh Hart, and Lonzo Ball is a steal. Plus, that gives them the first and fourth round picks in this draft, and some cap space to boot. I don't think they could have hoped for more from this trade. Now if only they can land Kawhi in free agency...

Worst Trade of the Week: New Orleans Pelicans

Guess who else they got in the deal?


RIP, New Orelans, and happy Father's Day to the Lakers:

The "Crap, I'm an Old Man" Take of the Week: Team USA Overdid It

I'm 36 now, and every once in a while I'll have a contrarian sports take that makes me realize I'm closer than I think to being one of those cranky old dudes from the '90s Sports Reporters shows bleating about how slam dunks should be illegal. This week's take? I personally believe that it was embarrassing for the U.S. to beat Thailand 13-0 in the women's World Cup last week, and to celebrate excessively after every damn goal. I watched the whole match in something like dark fascination, and if I was on the fence at any point, I tumbled off after they kept cutting to the shot of the crying Thai girl in the stands:

After the match, the Thai players were also crying, and it was just an ugly, humiliating spectacle. The bad excuses the Americans trotted out in the aftermath proved how unnecessary it all was: They definitely didn't need that many goals for "goal differential," especially when there's literally no chance they'll fail to make it out of the group, and as for the whole "we worked hard to be here!" thing, did Thailand. And Team USA didn't need to keep pressing after the game was well in hand. To me, anything past 8-0 means you've run it up, and 13-0, with several of the goals coming at the dying moments, just shows a complete lack of respect and class. And sorry, as much as I thought I liked Rapinoe, anyone celebrating like this after the ninth goal of the match is kind of a jerk:

That's my take, and I'm ready to face the cool kids firing squad. And as it turns out, I'm not just an angry old man now...I'm also Canadian. Crap.