Petty Baseball Rivalries Hurt the Game

Rivalries in baseball have existed as long as the game itself. You don’t need to look too far back to find examples of rivalries between players, teams, and even owners. My favorite involves legendary NY Giants manager John McGraw. Before becoming a manager, petty baseball rivalries McGraw was a hard-running hitter for the Baltimore Orioles. During a game in May 1894, McGraw slid into the Boston Beaneaters’ third baseman. McGraw’s slide touched off a fight between the two. The brawl intensified so much that by the next morning the ballpark, and 114 houses in the surrounding neighborhood had burned to the ground. Long story short, fans became so excited they didn’t pay attention to their dropped lit cigars. These rivalries are what make baseball so great. But today’s petty baseball rivalries are hurting the game because they’re based on personal insults instead of fierce competition.

Where Are the Genuine Rivalries?

Baseball rivalries aren’t what they used to be. The Brooklyn Dodgers had one with the New York Yankees, who beat them all but once in the World Series. Brooklyn had one with another National League team, the New York Giants. Bobby Thomson’s “Shot Heard ‘Round the World” set a standard for game-winning home runs. Johnny Podres’ brilliant performance in Game 7 of the 1955 World Series won Brooklyn its only title. The rivalry between the Red Sox and Yankees needs no introduction. These fierce battles made the game fun to watch. But now they’ve turned into anger over flipped bats, unintentional slides, and other ridiculous incidents that exemplify pettiness instead of honest competition.

The rivalry between Carlton Fisk and Thurmond Munson is the stuff of legends. It all started during a 1973 game that would decide who’d move into first place. In the 9th, Munson broke for home on a suicide squeeze and crashed into Fisk. Munson tried to keep Fisk down so Felipe Alou could advance. Fisk overpowered Munson before both teams cleared the benches. When you look at the details of this brawl you don’t see anger over a flipped bat or a slide. You see two teams so destined to win at any cost that they revert to creative methods to overpower one another. It was their skill and strategy that made the rivalry so legendary. They reflect a tremendous amount of skill that goes towards its execution. Like The Roman Empire, greatness wasn’t built in a day. Petty baseball rivalries, however, are created in a short time.

Today’s Petty Baseball Rivalries Are Born Out of Bruised Egos

Last month the Orioles’ Manny Machado slide into second and spiked Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedrioa. Footage of the play clearly shows that it wasn’t intentional, but that didn’t stop the Red Sox from retaliating. The Red Sox Matt Barnes threw at Macho’s head a few days later that led to his ejection. This petty baseball rivalry intensified two weeks later when Baltimore came to Boston. In a series marked by racial taunts, fights over nothing continued that distracted both teams from playing as well as they could have. The players on each team weren’t trying to win the game to secure first place. They were understandably coming to one another’s defense like teammates should, but it was still petty and childish. It wasn’t about winning to them, it was about being macho.

Impulsivity doesn’t involve planning. There’s no real strategy to it. Anyone can throw at a batter’s head and say it’s all about rivalry. But those who think the current rivalry between Boston and Baltimore is a real one should read up on their baseball history.

What To Make Of The Boston-Baltimore Conflict

Chris Sale wrote the latest chapter of the Boston-Baltimore conflict last night after throwing behind Manny Machado. This confrontation is the latest in a string of incidents between the two teams that began last month. The rivalry started in Baltimore on April 21st when Boston-Baltimore ConflictMachado slid into second and spiked Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedrioa. While it didn’t look intentional, it touched off a series of confrontations that have included beanings, throws to the head, and as of Monday, racist epithets, along with peanuts, thrown at Orioles centerfielder Adam Jones.

This Isn’t Your Old Fashioned Rivalry

The Red Sox are no strangers to rivalries. The Red Sox and Yankees have been at war with each other since 1912 when the Sox beat the Yankees, then the Highlanders, 7-6 in the first game at Fenway Park. Since then, the two teams have often battled for a playoff spot. Individual rivalries between catchers Carlton Fisk and Thurmond Munson kept the rivalry interesting. It’s since died down after the Red Sox won the 2004 World Series in 2004. But this newfound rivalry with the Orioles is rooted in misunderstanding and unfounded anger. What started as an intentional spiking unfolded into a national scene of unwanted and distracting attention. It’s not baseball at its best. It’s baseball at its worst.

The Boston-Baltimore Conflict Isn’t An Honest One

The Red Sox v. Yankees rivalry is an honest one because they often involved pitching duels, dramatic home runs, and tough base running altercations. With the exception of the 2004 game, the Red Sox and Yankees duke it out with pitching and hitting. This new rivalry with the Orioles is stupid because it’s based on machoism instead of honest baseball. Players on both sides don’t want to look weak or back down, so they take to beaning and throwing at each other to look tough. That’s not what baseball is all about.

Tuesday’s Game Exemplified What A Good Rivalry Should Look Like

Tuesday’s game was an exceptional one. Sale struck out eleven. Hanley Ramirez hit two home runs, one of which hasn’t landed yet. And in a most bizarre of plays, the Orioles competed their first triple play since 2000. While Sale sent a message to Machaco by throwing behind him, Machado returned the favor by blasting a home run off of him in the seventh. That’s what baseball is all about. With the exception of Sale’s immature throw behind Machado, fans on both sides saw old fashioned baseball. The game even finished under three hours, which is rare nowadays. The highlight of the game, however, is what should turn the Boston-Baltimore conflict towards a respectable one.

Adam Jones, subjected to horrible racist taunts the night before, came to the plate in the first. Fans in Fenway Park gave Jones a standing ovation as their way of showing support. It was also an effort from Red Sox Nation to show the rest of baseball that they’re better than what Jones endured the night before. While some dimwitted fans think that Jones exaggerated, the overwhelming ovation signified a strong show of respect. More importantly, it’s this writer’s hope that it’ll end the immature antics both teams are exhibiting and the rivalry will turn into a more honest form of baseball. Instead of throwing at each other, maybe the Red Sox and Orioles will start fighting each other with home runs and strikeouts.

The Red Sox and Orioles need to stop the macho crap and need to start focusing on real baseball. It’s not about beaning or “sending a message.” It’s about seeing who’s the better team.

Did Matt Barnes Have the Right to Throw at Machado’s Head?

Baseball fans have seen it happen plenty of times before. Teams in the Big Leagues haveMatt Barnes been exchanging plunks since the inception of the league. Retaliation is fine; make it clear that your team does not play games. On the other hand, don’t just let it rip and see what happens. Throwing at someone’s head is unacceptable in this age of baseball. Matt Barnes made a mistake, and he’s lucky that a four-game suspension is all he is facing.

Why What Matt Barnes Did Was Wrong

Manny Machado broke up a double play by spiking second baseman Dustin Pedroia on his slide into second-base during last Friday’s game. Some Red Sox fans saw it as a dirty play. Don’t forget that a runner’s job is to break hard for second base and do what it takes to break up a double play. Players are literally taught to do this at more competitive levels of baseball. Manny Machado is a player who has already been caught up in some instances during his young career that showcase his fiery emotions. Machado is not afraid to let the other team know how he feels, which I believe is good for the future of baseball.

Machado broke hard toward second base and spiked Pedroia, eventually forcing Pedroia to leave the game. During the eighth inning of Sunday’s game, Matt Barnes intentionally threw at Manny Machado. From a baseball player’s perspective, this is simply retaliation. Once your star gets intentionally hurt, it is important to stand up for your teammate. The problem here is that Barnes fired his fastball past the head of Machado, (ultimately hitting his bat and being called a foul ball). For those who do not know, Matt Barnes is one of the hardest-throwing pitchers in the Red Sox’ bullpen. Barnes’ fastball is what got him to the big-leagues, as it sits in the mid-nineties. A pitch with that much velocity can cause serious damage to a batter’s head or face. God forbid Barnes’ pitch didn’t miss to the right, and strike Manny Machado up top.

Matt Barnes Isn’t Completely at Fault

Dustin Pedroia and Manny Machado were seen chirping at each other during Sunday’s game. Pedroia yelled out to Machado, “Not me, that’s them,” from the Red Sox dugout. The former MVP is right. He got taken out at second, and his teammates backed him up. Whatever may happen to Machado at the hands of Pedie’s teammates is fair game because Machado made the decision to slide with his cleats up. Matt Barnes was probably not the guy to come up with the idea to hit Machado initially. This decision could have been made by any player or group of Red Sox. Barnes could have even been instructed by a coach to hit Machado.

The fact of the matter is that fastballs around the head have no place in the game. Look at what happened to Tony Conigliaro. Conigliaro was on pace to become one of the best players in all of baseball when he got beaned. If Machado was hit up top, who knows what could have happened. Next time, just drill the guy in the thigh or find a different way to retaliate, and move on. It doesn’t make sense to potentially jeopardize the career of a promising star because he spiked a second-baseman.

Spikes and Controversy Slide Into Pedrioa

Fans have seen little else beyond spikes and controversy slide into Red Sox news lately. It started Friday night in Baltimore. The O’s third baseman Manny Machado slid into second as Dustin Pedrioa attempted a double play. Machado slid and spiked Pedroia. It looked  unintentional. But Pedrioa’s teammates and fans alike believe that Machado did it on purpose.

Personally, I don’t agree.Controversy Slide

Pedrioa told the press after the game that he didn’t think Machado intentionally spiked him. Pedrioa is a tough player whose been around for years and knows the difference between an accident and a dirty play. In fact, from the stands it looked like an accident.

I was attending the game in Baltimore with my friend Taylor that night. We were sitting behind the visiting dugout. At first, it didn’t look like Pedrioa was hurt that badly. I didn’t see any animosity between Machado and Pedrioa following the slide. In fact, as Machado slid into second he wrapped his arms around Pedrioa in an effort to cushion the impact. To see this kind of controversy slide into the game was unwarranted.

There were a lot of Red Sox fans at Camden Yards Friday night. I didn’t hear any of them suggest that Machado spiked him intentionally. O’s fans seemed to feel the same way. As I left the ballpark I didn’t hear anyone mention it. I didn’t hear anything about it in the bars I went into for an after-game drink. No one was talking about it. In other words, this is nothing more than an effort to make something out of nothing.

Anger and Controversy Slide Into The Red Sox Clubhouse

This incident was about to blow over until reliever Matt Barnes threw at Manny Machado on Sunday. Barnes was immediately ejected, making Friday’s incident a much bigger issue. Now some are saying Pedrioa is partly to blame. Following Sunday’s game, the O’s Zach Britton called Pedrioa’s leadership into question. Britton suggested that Pedrioa can’t control his teammates. It’s one thing to call this a “mishandled situation,” as Pedrioa put it, but it’s another thing to question Pedroia’s integrity. There’s no better ambassador for the Red Sox than Pedrioa. He’s one of those players whose love for the game equals his efforts.

This isn’t something the Red Sox need right now. Barnes should have known better than to throw at Machado over a nothing issue. Pedrioa likely didn’t tell him to do it; it’s not his style. It was an issue that was about to die down until  Barnes made it worse. It was something he decided to do on his own. But that’s between Barnes, his teammates, and John Farrell. Let the Red Sox deal with Barnes and focus on getting Pedrioa back into the lineup.

The best way to deal with this issue is to refocus on baseball. The AL East is unusually competitive this season and the Red Sox need to move on. Instead of dwelling on this insignificant issue, let the Red Sox focus on capturing first place.

Should Red Sox Shop for a Replacement for David Ortiz?

Should the Red Sox shop for a replacement for David Ortiz? While many are looking at Mookie Betts and Xander Bogaerts to take over for Ortiz when he retires, I’m starting to wonder if it would be a good idea to look outside the Red Sox organization for new replacement for David Ortizblood and snatch someone from another team.

Now, before anyone slams me for saying this, keep in mind that Ortiz himself wasn’t home-grown. Ortiz came over from in 2003 after a few years of inconsistent hitting with the Minnesota Twins. In fact, it was Pedro Martinez who pushed Theo Epstein to sign Ortiz, who later helped the Red Sox win their first World Series in eighty-six years. There’s a few reasons why looking elsewhere for a replacement would be a great idea.

First, veterans on the team like Dustin Pedrioa, Clay Bucholtz, and even Ortiz himself could  make suggestions to Dave Dombrowski, just like Martinez did for Epstein. They’ve been around the game for many years and definitely know good talent when they see it. While there’s more than plenty of talent in the organization already, especially in Pawtucket (I’m looking at you Josh Rutledge and Henry Owens!), the Red Sox need a leader. They need a younger but seasoned player who can join the team sooner than later before Ortiz leaves. By then, this new leader will be able to take the reigns from Ortiz more smoothly.

Let’s look at Baltimore’s Manny Machado. He’s young, hit 35 home runs last season, and has a solid batting average. He’d mesh well with the younger players like Travis Shaw and Mookie Betts. Then there’s Kansas City’s Mike Moustakas, another young player who helped lead the Royals to the World Series last year with 22 home runs. The Red Sox could use that kind of experience on the team. These two guys are young enough that they’ll be around for years to come and with experience, can lead the Red Sox to another post-season appearance.

Could Replacement for David Ortiz Come From The National League?

If the Red Sox shop for someone outside of the American League they might find strong talent in the Mets organization. Travis Taijeron, who has yet to play a major league game, has already been named a top rookie in the Mets camp, and hit 27 home runs last season in the minors. He hasn’t made it to the majors yet, but the alternative hitting perspective he’d bring to the Red Sox would benefit other hitters who could look to him to see how his hitting improved with other teams. In other words, he could provide an alternative perspective.

Whoever it is that takes Ortiz’s place in the lineup, whether it’s someone already with the Red Sox, or someone from another team,  it’ll most likely surprise those in the Red Sox Nation. Few thought Ortiz would be a major benefit for the Red Sox when he signed with them in 2003, so it’s possible that his successor might follow a similar path. So who knows who it’ll be? Maybe he’s already on the team, or with another team, just waiting for the right time and place to take his rightful place in the lineup.

Brock Holt Makes Impact At All-Star Game

This year’s Mid-Summer Classic ended with yet another win for the American League.  The game was played at the Great American Ballpark in Cincincatti.  The Boston Red Sox only had one representative, Brock Holt, and he did not disappoint for the Sox.

Coming into the game, nobody was really sure about what type of role Holt would have. Brock Holt He was not seen until the seventh inning when he was subbed in to replace Mike Trout as a pinch-runner.  But right when he came in, he made an immediate positive impact.

Holt stole second base on a breaking ball thrown by pitcher Francisco Rodriguez, after seeing the previous pitch put in the dirt.  He then scored on a double hit by Manny Machado.  This run gave the American League another insurance run which helped them to a 6-3 win over the National League.

After being put into the game, Holt stayed in and played three innings in left field.  In his one at-bat, he struck out against the Cincinatti Reds pitcher Aroldis Chapman.

For Holt, this was his first All-Star selection.  As Red Sox fans, we’re all hoping that it is just the first of many.  He may be the most versatile player in the Major League’s, and that showed as he was the first player in history to be selected to the All-Star team who had started at seven positions, every one other than pitcher and catcher.

The Red Sox are starting the second-half of the season in last place in the A.L. East.  Toward the end of the first half, they were starting to turn things around before dropping two of three at Fenway Park to their rival the New York Yankees.  With the American League winning the All-Star Game, this means their World Series representative will have home field advantage.  Let’s hope that Holt’s contributions can help turn the Sox season around and maybe we can see game one of the World Series being played at Fenway.