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Joe Maddon: people throw at us intentionally; we never do it

May 31, 2012, 10:30 AM EDT

Joe Maddon Getty Getty Images

A commenter said yesterday that Joe Maddon often accuses other teams of throwing at his players but that he has never even once hinted that the Rays do the same. Here he was on a radio show yesterday talking about the Red Sox doing just that — and the Red Sox doing nothing — over the weekend:

I guess Adrian Gonzalez had made a comment about hitting a home run and it just happens that night that Matt Moore hits him with a pitch that’s inside and not at him. All of a sudden there is something made out of that and then Luke Scott is intentionally hit in that game. Again they must have a little program up there that if one of their guys gets hit you are going to hit them back regardless of the situation and that’s what it appeared to be to me. Beyond that listen we do not do that. I’m telling you we don’t do that.

Did you think Bobby Valentine ordered his pitchers to throw at your hitters? It seemed that way:

“It was contrived. There’s no question it was a contrived situation. It was very obvious and again that is what I am talking about. You got to be very careful because when you do that as a manager of a team eventually it can get your own guys hurt and that’s what could happen. I would bet to a man none of the Red Sox players appreciated any of that.”

Flash forward to yesterday’s White Sox-Rays game, it seemed pretty darn obvious that Rays pitcher Alex Cobb intentionally threw at both Gordon Beckham and A.J. Pierzynski. Now,  given the events of Tuesday’s game when Pierzynkski went into the bag spikes up, those idiotic unwritten rules of baseball may have demanded that he be hit. But justified or not, the Rays threw at Pierzynski. Worth noting that Maddon denied it, and then accused the White Sox’  Jose Quintana of intentionally throwing at Ben Zobrist and applauding Quintana’s ejection, so he’s pretty consistent.

Of course, after being plunked, A.J. came around to score the White Sox’ third run.  While the Rays may have accepted that as baseball justice, I wonder if, to a man (and woman) Rays fans appreciated that stupid plunking nonsense led to a run by the opposition in what turned out to be a one-run game.

It’s all so silly. Throwing at guys is dumb. Accusing the other team of doing it and denying that you do it is fairly insulting. Just play the game and leave the discipline to the league. If that’s too much, at least quit accusing others of things you do yourself. Keep your uber secret code of silent valor silent.

  1. 1943mrmojorisin1971 - May 31, 2012 at 10:35 AM

    I like Joe Maddon but in this case he should just keep his mouth shut because nobody is buying this. Every team throws at opponents intentionally and that’s no secret, so why deny it?

    • delawarephilliesfan - May 31, 2012 at 10:42 AM

      Why deny it? Because MLB, Sports Writer and Basebell bloggers award people who deny it, and punish people who tell the truth.

      • Glenn - May 31, 2012 at 10:46 AM

        Exactly – Joe would be fined if he admitted that the Rays intentionally threw at people. It’s kind of like politicians. We hate them for lying but won’t vote for them unless they do.

    • 1943mrmojorisin1971 - May 31, 2012 at 11:00 AM

      @Glenn: I’m not saying he should pull a Cole Hamels. I just think he’d be better off not commenting on this situation or at least not continuing to do so long after the fact.

      • jdl1325 - May 31, 2012 at 11:34 AM

        Exactly, he comes off sounding like a hypocrite and idiot, when his players are doing the exact same thing/

      • delawarephilliesfan - May 31, 2012 at 1:15 PM

        @1943 – I too am not suggesting he pull a Cole Hamels, and for the record, I think hitting guys intentionally is wrong. But the Mike Rizzo’s and Jim Leylands of the world create this scenario in which you are obliged to tell lies, and the press just eats those lies like it’s ice cream. You even had Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post write (with a straight face) that it is perfectly plausible that Jordan Zimmerman did not intentionally hit Cole Hamels. And why? Well, Zimmerman said he didn’t do it on purpose!

        Just pointing out the conundrum

    • dan1111 - May 31, 2012 at 11:27 AM

      Do we really know that every manager orders his pitchers to throw at someone? It’s quite possible that Maddon never does this. Maybe he even chews out his own pitchers if they do it. We don’t know what goes on behind the scenes. The point is, I don’t see why we should assume he is being disingenuous.

    • petey1999 - May 31, 2012 at 3:32 PM

      Apparently Maddon has decided that to compensate for their lack of talent, the Rays (and especially the coaching staff) have to act like punks. Really disappointing.

  2. bsbiz - May 31, 2012 at 10:40 AM

    So he’s unintentionally sending Hawk Harrelson into orbit? Man, and here I thought Joe Maddon was trolling us.

  3. El Bravo - May 31, 2012 at 10:53 AM

    You didn’t mention the most important unwritten rule at play in the White Sox game: throwing at AJ Pierzynski is always condoned and considered fair play.

    • mcsnide - May 31, 2012 at 1:21 PM

      Unwritten? I’m pretty sure that’s actually in the rule book.

  4. sictransitchris - May 31, 2012 at 10:53 AM

    All of these unwritten rules are stupid.

  5. crispybasil - May 31, 2012 at 10:57 AM

    Didn’t David Price tweet that Matt Moore should hit Adrian Gonzalez after the latter said he was going to hit a home run?

    • skeleteeth - May 31, 2012 at 11:33 AM

      I thought it was a re-tweet of a Rays fan or something.

      • rsnorth - May 31, 2012 at 12:11 PM

        That’s right. Price reweeted a comment from a fan. First pitch to Gonzalez hit him near the belt buckle. It was right at him. Joe Maddon’s a great manager but he’s out of line in this case.

  6. heyblueyoustink - May 31, 2012 at 11:00 AM

    I’m waiting for it…..

  7. paperlions - May 31, 2012 at 11:10 AM

    I have no opinion about whether or not the Rays throw at players (and didn’t see the recent Pierzynzki incident)….but based on the numbers, there appears to be some truth to what Maddon said.

    Since 2008 (just figured 5 years was a large enough sample), the Rays have been hit 277 times (5th most in the majors), but have only hit 201 batters (5th fewest in the majors). That is the 4th biggest differential for being hit more than you hit guys (the White Sox, Brewers, and Indians get hit even more compared to guys they hit).

    So….the Rays pitchers have had fantastic control compared to other teams, the Rays pitchers don’t throw inside often, the Rays have been lucky to hit so few guys, or they generally throw at guys less often than your average MLB team (or some combination of those 4 factors).

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - May 31, 2012 at 11:29 AM

      Using fangraphs leaderboards I did a search from ’06 (when Maddon took over) until current. The Rays ranks:

      Getting hit – 377 – 9th most
      Hitting batters – 327 – 12th least

      The -50 difference, over 6+ seasons comes out to a little more than 8 batters hit to for every one time their pitcher hits someone. Not exactly a lot when you look at a team like the Rangers who have hit 100 more batters in the time span than their players being hit (Vincente Padilla syndrome?) or the Brewers who’ve had their hitters hit 141 more times than their pitchers hit others.

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - May 31, 2012 at 11:34 AM

        Btw I probably screwed up the most/least, so just for clarity’s sake:

        Pitching –
        Padres – 253 – Least
        Rays – 327
        Red Sox – 435 – Most

        Hitting –
        Twins – 272 – Least
        Rays – 377
        Indians – 470 – Most

  8. drewsylvania - May 31, 2012 at 11:30 AM

    Regardless of how good a manager he is, Maddon continues to cement his reputation as a sanctimous prick.

  9. teaspoon1731 - May 31, 2012 at 11:32 AM

    It’s possible that Madden doesn’t tell his pitchers to throw at guys and that they do it anyway. Not likely mind you, but possible.

    • indaburg - May 31, 2012 at 2:46 PM

      That’s what I was thinking. Joe knows his pitchers are going to do it on their own, thanks to the so called unwritten rules of baseball, so he doesn’t really need to order an HBP. That said, while I love Maddon, and I would like to believe him (the huge difference between how Rays are one of the most frequently hit teams, while they are among the lowest in hitting other players indicates there is some truth to his statement), he should just keep his mouth shut when it comes to this topic. Even if he is telling the truth, no one is going to believe him, and it makes him look disingenuous.

  10. bgould74 - May 31, 2012 at 11:33 AM

    Joe Maddon is a hypocrite and a phony. In both situations the Rays have responded to actions they don’t like by hitting opposing players. They have been the instigators in two bean ball wars but we are supposed to believe that they are the innocent ones? Apparently it’s only intentional if the Rays are the ones getting hit.

  11. WhenMattStairsIsKing - May 31, 2012 at 11:35 AM

    Joe has focus on making sure his pitchers don’t retaliate, thanks to his Men’s One a Day 50+.

  12. nolasoxfan2012 - May 31, 2012 at 11:38 AM

    Joe Maddon’s ego is getting way too big. Yes, for a low budget team, the Rays have done very well, as has Maddon. Most of the credit should go to Andrew Friedman, however, for consistently hitting on high draft choices and for finding gems later in the draft or in other teams’ scrap heaps. The whole over-shifting thing that Joe does is also neat, although I have no idea if it actually makes a significant difference in runs. But, Maddon is starting to act like he’s the king of baseball or something, who can somehow see into the hearts and minds of the opposing manager. Calling the opposing manager a “coward” is certainly an odd thing for an MLB manager to do, as is maintaining that your own team is faultless in all things.

  13. hasbeen5 - May 31, 2012 at 12:06 PM

    I do think throwing at guys in general is stupid, especially for violating an “unwritten rule” that hurts nothing more than egos.

    However, I tend to not care as much when it’s in retaliation for an actual physical act, like Pierzynski’s dirty slide. I’m not saying it’s right, but I just feel like there should be some punishment for being a douche. I know doing something that could hurt a player in retaliation for doing something that could hurt a player doesn’t make sense, but that’s how i feel anyway.

  14. randall351 - May 31, 2012 at 12:15 PM

    I think there should be an unwritten rule that you hit A.J. Pierzynski every time he’s at the plate. Well maybe not every time, but at least once a game.

    That guy is a huge asshat.

    • drewsylvania - May 31, 2012 at 12:22 PM

      Anyone congratulated Michael Barrett today?

  15. angrycorgi - May 31, 2012 at 12:47 PM

    I used to (and still do to a degree) have TONS of respect for Joe. The past couple of seasons, however, have featured some comments I really wish he’d have not said. He still impresses me with the results he coaxes from such a small market team. Going toe-to-toe with the yankees and sox with 1/3 of their payroll is not an easy thing to do as long as he has.

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - May 31, 2012 at 2:43 PM

      It’s a lot easier to take when you think that 99% of the stuff that comes out of a manager/player’s mouth is for motivational purposes, and not a sudden epiphany they had. He’s either doing/saying this to psyche out the opposing team, or to pump up his players. Nothing more.

  16. jashton11 - May 31, 2012 at 6:24 PM

    I’m a Rays fan, and I think Maddon is the best manager in the game today, but I don’t believe him for a second on this one. There’s no way you can convince me that Moore throwing at Gonzalez and Cobb throwing at Pierzynski were accidents.

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