Jul 3, 2012, 10:30 AM EDT
This is kind of nuts. A coach in the A’s system, who was acting as manager for the Stockton Ports in the class-A California League, has been banned from being in the Ports’ dugout for a year after ordering his pitchers to intentionally commit balks in an effort to end a game that had reached the 17th inning.
The pitchers were actually position players — each team had burned through its pen — and he ordered the balks in order to prevent injuries to his players:
[Todd] Steverson, Oakland’s roving hitting instructor, ordered Josh Whitaker, an outfielder and the second Ports’ position player to pitch that night, to commit balks to move Modesto runners into scoring position. Whitaker blatantly balked twice in the 17th, but the Nuts could not get the game-ending hit until the 18th, after another balk.
Steverson, who was filling in for the usual Ports manager who was on vacation, admitted the next day that he did it on purpose:
“We had a position player out there and I didn’t want to put another position player on the mound and get him hurt … I didn’t get any of my pitchers hurt and I didn’t get any position players hurt. So a game on June 23, 2012, well, these guys will be playing many more games more important than that.”
After that interview, the California League banned him for a year. Though, since managing or even coaching the Ports exclusively is not his job, is probably not the most arduous thing ever.
Still, that’s something else, no? I can’t say I’ve ever heard of a coach ordering that kind of thing. And I am divided in my thinking about this.
On the one hand I understand Steverson’s rationale. You don’t want prospects getting hurt in such a situation. But more compelling to me is the counter argument: these games count and are supposed to be competitive. If the California League or, for that matter, Major or Minor League Baseball wanted them to solely be about player development and/or preservation, they’d suspend games that go beyond a set number of innings like they do in spring training.
So ok, Steverson, I get it. But if you didn’t want to wind up in a situation where position players could get hurt pitching, maybe you need to manage your bullpen better and make some reliever wear one rather than make a mockery of the competition, however mild a mockery it might be.
- Settling the Score: Friday’s results 0
- Tony Cingrani hits Bryce Harper in the back with a pitch, then complains he was too slow getting to first base 82
- Video: Josh Hamilton hits his first home run of the season 15
- Rockies starter Chad Bettis loses his no-hitter in the eighth inning 2
- Stephen Strasburg exits start in the second inning with an apparent injury 5
- More than half of polled baseball fans prefer having the pitcher hit 69
- The Marlins aren’t happy with the Dan Jennings hire 43
- Andrew McCutchen is doing just fine now, thank you 20
- The Big Unit: Wide Angle Watcher (90)
- And That Happened: Wednesday’s scores and highlights (89)
- Tony Cingrani hits Bryce Harper in the back with a pitch, then complains he was too slow getting to first base (86)
- Chipper Jones will fight you if you insult his “girl” (83)
- Alex Rodriguez is the all-time AL RBI champion. Sorta. (76)