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The White Sox plan to retaliate when their batters are hit

Jan 30, 2012, 11:31 AM EDT

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim v Baltimore Orioles Getty Images

UPDATE: I should probably start reading this blog once in a while, because it wasn’t until after I already posted this that I realized that Matthew posted on he same comments last night.   He was far less self-righteous than I was about it, though, so I suppose both takes can stay up.

11: 18 AM: Longtime readers know my view on intentional plunkings and beanball wars: I hate ’em.  A pitched ball could potentially kill a guy, so the idea of a pitcher intentionally aiming one at a batter is just abhorrent to me.

But obviously I’m out of step with major league baseball here, as there is a long and rich tradition of hit batsmen being avenged by a pitcher throwing at the other guys in retaliation.  It largely goes unspoken because people tend to get fined when they admit that that’s what’s going on, but that is what’s going on.

And it’s not always unspoken.  Take this from White Sox’ bench coach Mark Parent, who was asked about White Sox batters getting hit a lot last season:

One fan’s question to the coaching staff about the lopsided statistics brought much interest to a large crowd Sunday at SoxFest. “You hit our guy, we’ll hit your guy,” said new bench coach Mark Parent, whose reply was met with scattered applause.

Note: find the people who offered the applause and have nothing to do with them in the future.

I don’t know how you can cheer for that. I don’t know how any reasonable person can see their team’s player get hit and have their first impulse be “we need to hit them!” as opposed to “that pitcher needs to get ejected and suspended.”

And yes, I realize that this easily branches out into a discussion of the purposes of the criminal justice system, revenge vs. punishment, etc. etc.  If you wanna have that discussion, great, let’s have it.  The same considerations apply in my view.

  1. paperlions - Jan 30, 2012 at 11:22 AM

    This topic seems really familiar.

    • Old Gator - Jan 30, 2012 at 12:26 PM

      This topic was brought to you by Craig’s Department of Redundancy Department.

  2. fearlessleader - Jan 30, 2012 at 11:22 AM

    Didn’t Matthew post about this last night? Now he’s going to have you plunked.

  3. kcmaddog1 - Jan 30, 2012 at 11:32 AM

    Immediate ejection and suspension for any “intentional act”

    • chadjones27 - Jan 30, 2012 at 1:24 PM

      I thought immediate ejection was already the punishment for intentional plunking. If not, it should be. But, to suspend a player seems a bit drastic, considering, in my opinion anyway, it’s difficult to always pinpoint when something is intentional. Unless the pitcher points at the batter and says “I’m aiming for your temple,” I don’t think you can positively state when someone is hitting a batter on purpose.

  4. easports82 - Jan 30, 2012 at 11:32 AM

    Couple things:
    1) There’s a misconception that intentionally plunking someone means head hunting. No one condones head hunting, but you can hit a guy in other areas (legs for speed guys; sides for power hitters) which affects their ability to perform, which isn’t life threatening.
    2) There’s a second misconception that whenever a pitcher throws to the inner half of the plate, he’s trying to hit batters. Pitchers aren’t being taught how to control the inner half enough, so when they do go in there and it gets away, it’s immediately thought to be intentional.

    • nategearhart - Jan 30, 2012 at 12:10 PM

      Sure, they could be AIMING for the side. But think about it: if Jason Jennings is aiming for the middle of the plate, how often do you trust him to put it there? What if he aims for the side and misses? And hits the batter in the face?

    • Lukehart80 - Jan 30, 2012 at 12:22 PM

      ea, your second point proves what’s wrong with your first one: you’re right, pitchers miss their target all of the time. That’s why it’s such a horrible idea to aim for a guy’s ribcage.

      It’s a horrible idea to aim for the ribcage anyway, because just play the damn game and gain retribution by winning, but it’s an even worse idea because by aiming close to a guy’s head, you’re much more likely to hit his head than you otherwise are.

      • chadjones27 - Jan 30, 2012 at 1:28 PM

        Aim for the rib cage and the batter is liable to turn away, showing his back towards the pitcher, to protect himself. If that pitch is slightly off, it sinks, and nails the batter in the kidney… that could start all sorts of problems.
        I really think anyone who condones purposely hitting batters, needs to stand in there and see what an 85-90 mph pitch feels like.

  5. Old Gator - Jan 30, 2012 at 11:33 AM

    The French critic and social scientist Rene Girard (who bears an uncomfortable resemblance to Mahmoud Abbas, speaking of retaliation and applause) called the underlying principle of the vendetta “mimetic violence,” which is another way of saying “monkey see, monkey do,” which seems like an offhanded reference to the “drunken monkeys’ topic of a few threads back.

    This place is just lousy with synchronicity today…..

    • Old Gator - Jan 30, 2012 at 11:35 AM

      Speaking of which, Craig, as long as you’re running over to your local Borders (best of luck to ye!) to score your copy of The Descent of Man, let me also recommend to you the classic novel of the Albanian vendetta (that’s right – the Sicilians didn’t invent it!), Broken April by the great Ismail Kadare.

      • unclemosesgreen - Jan 30, 2012 at 11:59 AM

        Now I know 2 things about Albania.

      • Old Gator - Jan 30, 2012 at 1:02 PM

        Three things: there is no difference between a good flan and a bad flan, and there is no war in Albania.

  6. mikeangelina - Jan 30, 2012 at 11:35 AM

    No one’s going to mention the connection of this and Robin Ventura being the manager?

    What happens if one of the Rangers plunk a White Sock? Look out…I wonder if Ventura would charge after Ryan in that seat he usually sits in between the dugout and homeplate.

  7. japatar - Jan 30, 2012 at 11:45 AM

    Why is this article about the White Sox and the picture is Mark Reynolds of the O’s? Did the Sox plunk him in the head last year?

  8. sssugod - Jan 30, 2012 at 11:58 AM

    The fan reaction has a lot to do with the fact that the White Sox have been hit the fifth most times over the past five years while ranking 28th in opponents hit by pitches.

    • Lukehart80 - Jan 30, 2012 at 12:24 PM

      If the fans had more sense, they’d just be thrilled their players were getting so many free trips to first-base, because they certainly aren’t earning many of them.

      • nategearhart - Jan 30, 2012 at 12:27 PM

        Agreed. If I was a White Sox fan, I would not be cheering about giving the other team baserunners.

      • jfegan - Jan 30, 2012 at 12:59 PM

        Well, we enjoyed Carlos Quentin, and in 2010 when Juan Pierre’s OBP got artificially inflated, but losing a red-hot Gordon Beckham (the last time such a qualifier could be applied to him) to a sore hand after he was plunked in August of that same year is probably the overriding memory for some. A great many things cost the White Sox the 2010 AL Central crown, but that was one of them. Lillibridge having his hand broken last season didn’t make anyone feel better about the issue either, especially since he’s so gosh-darn cute.

        It’s admittedly a very troubling principle, for Parent to be seemingly welcoming a new age of bloodlust. But it’s responding to a sense that the White Sox are already getting regularly victimized (as seen by the stats SSSUGod quoted), and have had no recourse for the last few years because they would get bench warnings immediately after getting plunked due to Ozzie’s reputation as a hothead, and because Guillen himself had lost a taste for demanding responses after the Sean Tracey incident in 2006.

        I wouldn’t have a substantive argument against anyone who just thinks on principle that the game has no place for intentionally drilling people with intent to induce pain, but the context shouldn’t be ignored.

  9. - Jan 30, 2012 at 12:04 PM

    There is suspension of the normal rules of society when on the field of competition. (This is not unqiue to baseball. I’m always miffed about how in football fans can watch dudes hit each other for 3 hours and then be offended on how the post game handshake went down.) I’m OK with a little plunking, maybe even a few brawls. It’s competition. We expect these guys to play all out, with emotion. We often criticize them when they don’t. So let’s not critisize them when their emotions get away from them… long said actions stay between the lines, and they stay within the “letting off steam” catagory of behavior.

  10. sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Jan 30, 2012 at 12:09 PM

    Congratulations Mark Parent! You just removed the inner half of the plate as a viable option for your pitchers. I would imagine with comments like this on the record the umps will be far more willing to toss White Sox pitchers for anything looking at all suspicious.

    Well played!

    • unclemosesgreen - Jan 30, 2012 at 12:23 PM

      That’s the first thing I thought of: Way to squander any residual goodwill for being known as a staff for not retaliating.

  11. kaf39 - Jan 30, 2012 at 12:27 PM

    Well said.

  12. leftywildcat - Jan 30, 2012 at 12:32 PM

    How about: If a pitcher is hit by a pitch he gets two bases. (Doesn’t apply if pitcher is pinch-hitting.)

    And, if umpire rules a plunking to be intentional, batter gets two bases and pitcher gets ejected.

  13. danrizzle - Jan 30, 2012 at 2:22 PM

    Oh what’s the big deal? Whenever I have a problem with someone, I measure a distance 60 feet and 6 inches away from them, and then throw a rock as hard as I can at them. There’s something wrong with that?

    • nategearhart - Jan 30, 2012 at 2:27 PM


  14. patg1041 - Jan 30, 2012 at 2:59 PM

    / \
    / | \
    | | |
    \ | /
    \ /

  15. patg1041 - Jan 30, 2012 at 3:02 PM

    Well, that didn’t work. Think of something on a female south of the equator.

  16. dirkified - Jan 30, 2012 at 9:39 PM

    Craig.. and fighting needs to be removed from hockey right? Criminal Justice System.. are you serious? This is the stupidest article I have read.. The other team will not hit your batters if they think you will hit them back..

    • Old Gator - Jan 30, 2012 at 10:41 PM

      What random conjunction of hitherto unsuspected forces squeezed you in here like a watermelon seed from whatever alternative universe you previously inhabited?

      • dirkified - Jan 31, 2012 at 1:01 PM

        what kind of reply are you expecting here? Drink another..

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