Brawling by the Bay

A brawl ensued in the top of the eighth inning Monday when Washington Nationals right fielder Bryce Harper was hit in the hip by San Francisco Giants pitcher Hunter Strickland. Harper initiated the brawl when he charged the mount, threw his helmet at Strickland (missed horribly) and the pair threw punches as Harper’s hair whipped majestically as his head flailed around. The Nationals held a 2-0 with two outs.

I’ve said before that I’m not a big fan of a lot of the unwritten rules of baseball, this includes hitting a guy for a hard slide, a bat flip or admiring a dinger. However, I will say I am all for a guy charging the mound after he’s been hit and the so-called “vigilante justice” has been served for a previous “offense.” The logic doesn’t make much sense otherwise. A pitcher can throw at a batter, but a batter can’t do anything but get out of the way to protect himself? Throwing a punch seems like a logical retaliation after a guy has just drilled you in the hip with what seems like an intentional fastball. Strickland’s pitch clocked at 98 mph.

The last time Strickland and Harper faced one another was in the 2014 NLDS. Harper hit two bombs off Strickland, but the Giants went on to win the series and later the World Series.

I understand that people will hold onto grudges and want to get their redemption, but to pitchers who seem to feel the need to deliver such justice I say grow up. You’re not in Babe Ruth, high school or even the minors anymore, you should have your emotions in check by the time you reach the major league level.

Again, I’m not for pitchers throwing at a batter intentionally. If you want to send a message to a guy, give him your gnarliest stuff and get him out. Don’t put him on base, especially if you need outs.

Because of the brawl, Harper and Strickland were ejected, obviously. Brian Goodwin came on as a pinch runner in place of Harper, then tallied an insurance run on a Daniel Murphy single. The Giants then left the bases loaded in the bottom half of the inning without getting any runs across, and the Nats went on to win 3-0. It seems counterproductive to me to give a man a free pass in such a close game, get the out.

My only advice for Harper in this situation? Next time, don’t try to throw your helmet like a Frisbee. Grab that thing by the top of the dome and sling it like a dodgeball. You’ll have more control and get better velocity that way. This seems like rookie kind of stuff to me.

Photo by Brigham Berthold

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