Let’s Go to the Tape: Paul Lo Duca Breaks Down Last Week’s Baseball Brawls
No joke, one of my managers used to pick up the phone, call the bullpen and ask, “OK, who wants to drill someone?”
Baseball finally back!!!! Two bench-clearing brawls in one day? Have to love it! It was the Wild West last Wednesday in two places — Colorado, where the Rockies and Padres rolled around, and Boston, where the Yanks and Sox finally let the hate back into their rivalry.
Let’s break these down.
Rocky Mountain Fisticuffs
First Colorado. This is a tough one, but then again, I completely understand. The night before the brawl, Hunter Renfroe gave the Padres a three-run lead in the seventh with a homer. It remained 5-2 until the ninth when Manuel Margot tried to lay down a bunt that failed — the Rockies obviously took exception to that and plunked Margot with the next pitch. He went down in a heap and the Padres ended up having to place him on the disabled list with broken ribs. This obviously didn’t happen by chance. The first times these two teams met, San Diego catcher A.J. Ellis was plunked by Chad Bettis, unintentionally. A day later, Padres third baseman Christian Villanueva was hit by Rockies reliever Scott Oberg in a game in which he hit a pair of homers.
A day later, Rockies ace Jon Gray beaned outfielder Jose Pirela.
The two teams went their separate ways for the weekend but were scheduled to play another three-game set three days later, meaning they would have played each other seven times in 10 days.
So it’s no surprise that with the way things were going that tempers were finally going to boil over. After he hit Margot, Oberg said it was unintentional and went so far as to text the Padres center fielder to apologize.
But there was no stopping this train; the next day things got out of hand.
It didn’t take long for the Padres to get their revenge. Luis Perdomo plunked Rockies shortstop Trevor Story with two outs in the first inning.
THIS IS WHERE IT SHOULD HAVE ENDED!!!!
Maybe Colorado manager Bud Black has an agenda against his old team, but he knows better. They hit Story. He didn’t get hurt. The Margot beaning may not have been intentional, but enough is enough.
Instead, the Rockies matched in the next half-inning, as starter German Marquez hit Renfroe with two outs.
Padres manager Andy Green was irate, as you could tell in his postgame presser, but he should have done his best to hold things in check. I totally understand that your emotions are beyond control at this point, but you just played the Astros tough on the road and you had a chance to sweep the Rockies. I don’t blame him and I get it, but maybe wait until the bottom of the eighth in an 8-0 game. That would be a better time for this. I knows it’s petty, but your job is to protect your players. He basically woke them up.
I was always taught that the game comes first and you’ll have plenty of time to take care of the other stuff.
In the third inning, Perdomo threw a fastball behind Nolan Arenado, Colorado’s most important player, inciting a miniriot. Arenado rushed the mound like a maniac and the benches cleared.
At least Perdomo actually hit Story with his pitch. I mean, come on man, with the glove-throw and the Michael Jackson moonwalk. He’s lucky Arenado didn’t connect.
Also, I love the fact that Padres bench coach Mark McGwire stepped in there. He learned from the best in St. Louis under Tony La Russa. La Russa protected his players better than any manager I played against. If you drilled one of their guys, you knew you were wearing a fastball in the back the next time you stepped up.
We live be in a world where the umpires and the MLB will keep a close eye on things like this, and the next time these two play will be under a microscope. It should be overhyped.
The Rivalry Is Back
I thought this was ridiculous.
Not one Yankee thought that Tyler Austin’s slide into second base in the third inning was dirty. Even Red Sox shortstop Brock Holt, who was on the receiving end of the slide, admitted he said something he shouldn’t have said.
Was it a dirty slide? I don’t know about that. I’ve been run over into the other on-deck circle, so you’re asking the wrong person. Were the spikes up? Maybe a little, but I can tell you about 50 or more slides that were worse than that.
Remember when a dirty slide was retaliated by another dirty slide and/or hitting someone? Those days are over; it’s a different game with the new rules.
You do have to love Joe Kelly trying to stand up for his teammate, though. I’ll take guys like that on my team anytime. Kevin Brown used to walk up to you and would ask you personally if you thought the pitcher hit you on purpose. That’s how you communicate to solve things.
In this instance, I’m not a fan of what Kelly did. Don’t get me wrong, I love a pitcher hitting someone and then asking him to come get some. I love it.
But two things bother me. Kelly took matters into his own hands. I find it hard to believe that Red Sox manager Alex Cora wanted him to hit somebody. I know he wanted to challenge the slide, but I’ve seen Cora get buried during his playing days and get right back up. He was an old-school player. Maybe Holt didn’t even say anything to Kelly. Like I said, Holt admitted to overreacting.
The other issue I had was that he missed Austin the first time and THEN he drilled him. After you miss him over something questionable, save it for another day. Why would you want to wake that lineup? Again, the game comes first. You’ll have plenty more chances to hit Austin. Again, I give him credit for holding his own, but at the end of the day you’re only going to get someone — a teammate even — hurt.
After the game, Kelly spoke to the media:
“I was ready to defend myself. Someone comes on my property, in my backyard, I have two dogs. … If I’m getting attacked I have to defend myself.”
What? Was he robbing you and your springer spaniels and attacking your rose garden? He backed off his comments the next day by saying the book on Austin was sliders in and fastballs in and one just got away. Bull crap. You owned it last night; own it today. If that slide is going to cause brawls, the game needs help.
The umpires and the league will be at full attention the next time these two teams play, but the ball is in the Yankees’ court.
Photo: New York Yankees first baseman Tyler Austin is held back during a scrum against the Boston Red Sox. Credit: Winslow Townson, USA TODAY Sports