Toronto Blue Jays’ 3B, Josh Donaldson, has a few choice words for how MLB is handling pitchers throwing at batters intentionally.
The Toronto Blue Jays have a couple of players that would rub the opposition the wrong way. Slugger, Jose Bautista, is one of them. He’s the perfect guy to have on your team, but he’s the bat flipping, stare down-ing kind of guy you would hate to play against. The Texas Rangers can attest to that. What did he get for launching one of the greatest home runs in Blue Jays history and celebrating with the greatest moment of the 2015 postseason? He was drilled by Matt Bush…7 months later.
The beaning is the age old baseball revenge effort. If a player does something you don’t like, you throw at him in his next at bat. It is one of the unwritten, accepted rules of baseball. The Toronto Blue Jays have been on both ends of this kind of retaliation. It’s widely accepted by them and everyone else.
But, Josh Donaldson is growing tired of it. That is likely because he is the target of several payback attempts as one of those players you’d love to play with, but hate to play against. Take the following example from last season when the Kansas City Royals were clearly sending a message to the Blue Jays:
The above incident resulted in warnings issued, benches clearing and Aaron Sanchez being ejected from the game. The question is: why were 3 attempts to hit Donaldson allowed? Why, when it was clearly intentional, did the umpires, who are MLB representatives on the field, not intervene to protect the safety of all?
That seems to be the issue that Donaldson has with this whole thing.
— Arden Zwelling (@ArdenZwelling) May 23, 2016
He is referring to the way things played out in Minnesota, where he was thrown at, yet again. This time, the situation was a bit different. Previously, he grounded out to first and the Twins bench chirped at him for not hustling. On his way back, he made some comments to them. The home plate umpire assumed the comments were directed at him and tossed Donaldson promptly.
The next day, Josh belted a home run and stared into the Twins dugout. That resulted in him being thrown at, which was clearly intentional. One could argue that his stare into the Twins dugout was showing them up, which has become the greatest sin in baseball, apparently.
No punishment was handed out for this act, though. Well, manager, John Gibbons, was ejected once again when he dared voice his displeasure with the clearly lax umpiring. He came to the defense of his star and was thrown out for it.
Donaldson is calling out Major League Baseball and their feeble attempts at protecting players. He points to the slide rule as an example of protecting players as well as the home plate rule change. Both were done to avoid serious injury to defenders. And, on the surface, the rules make sense. But, like a lot of things MLB does, they open the door for more questions. What is the league going to do about intentionally throwing at batters?
If you ask The Bringer of Rain, he would say that more strict oversight is needed. Umpires should be instructed to be more diligent in tossing pitchers. There is a point to this. Everyone in the ballpark knows when a beaning is intentional. It is not like the umpires are that oblivious. Rather than wait and see and then maybe issue warnings later, when it is clear what is happening, an umpire should be able to toss a pitcher immediately. We all know the situations when they happen. Why is the benefit of the doubt given when someone could get seriously hurt? Giancarlo Stanton had his face smashed in from a pitch, which was not intentional. Concussions cannot be that much of a minimal consideration. People could get seriously hurt.
Throwing at a batter, if done properly, should hit them in the rump, or the ribs, at worst. The problem is that many pitchers simply cannot hit their target as well as they should. It’s bad enough that some well intended pitches get away and end up sailing into someone’s jaw. Afterall, throwing inside on a batter is a useful tool for a pitcher. No one wants to eliminate that from the game. But, when guys are trying to hit batters, they need to have pinpoint control.
Josh Donaldson has a point. However, we also have to take into account that Josh Donaldson also complains about things that make life harder for him. You’ll recall that he recently voiced his displeasure with the quick pitch. He doesn’t appreciate not being given the time to get set.
The quick pitch came up in the postseason as well:
The interesting twist to this is that his own teammate, R.A. Dickey, has incorporated the quick pitch more this year than in the past. You can see why a pitcher would do it as it disrupts timing and comfort. But, you can also see Donaldson’s point: baseball should be simple competition without tricks and whatnot. Just pitcher against batter, no tomfoolery.
You’ll hear a lot of players, past and present, talk about baseball taking care of itself; that players can police the game. If that is true, then after a beaning, we have to expect a guy sliding hard into second to exact revenge and then situations possibly getting out of hand, as in Texas. If MLB is truly looking to avoid injury, as well as ugly violence, etc, then perhaps, it needs to listen to what Josh Donaldson has to say. Perhaps instructing umpires to more strictly control beanings is in order.
*Featured Image Credit: Terry Foote UNDER CC BY-SA 2.0
THANK YOU FOR VISITING JAYS FROM THE COUCH! CHECK US OUT ON TWITTER @JAYSFROMCOUCH AND INSTAGRAM. LIKE US ON FACEBOOK. BE SURE TO CATCH EVERY EPISODE OF THE JAYS NEST PODCAST!
Shaun Doyle is a long time Blue Jays fan and writer! He decided to put those things together and create Jays From the Couch. Shaun is the host of Jays From the Couch Radio, which is highly ranked in iTunes, and he has appeared on TV and radio spots.