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The Ugly Side of Baseball?

Recent incidents have sparked national interest in being hit by pitch once again

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  • After a bench clearing fight resulted in the suspension of both Bryce Harper and pitcher Hunter Strickland, Harper has since appealed, and then dropped his appeal resulting in a total 3 game suspension.
    The fight stemmed from bad blood between the two after Harper hit a pair of homers off the Giants pitcher in the 2014 playoffs. After being drilled by a 98 mph fastball, Harper rushed the pitching mound, threw his helmet which one can only assume was meant for Strickland (it missed comically far right for a pro athlete) then laid a heavy punch on the pitcher. Both benches emptied to aid and stop the fight between the two.
    The fight is an escalating trend in the MLB. Two weeks ago Dodger pitcher Ross Stripling threw behind Marlins Outfielder Giancarlo Stanton (usually a clear sign of aggression) resulting in automatic bench clearings.
    Even more interesting than the bench clearings was Marlins Manager and Dodgers ex-manager Don Mattingly throwing punches of his own. Luckily the fight ended before 6’5″, 275 lb Dodger relief pitcher Kenley Jansen got into it.
    The pitch appeared to also be in retaliation, but for this instance it was for teammate Brett Eibner being struck earlier in the game.
    Retaliation in the form of throwing at batters has long been part of the game, and is considered part of the ugly part of baseball. It’s viewed as the evil pitcher upon the mound who makes the defenseless batter cower in fear of being hit.
    However, as ugly and wrong as it seems on the outside, it’s still part of the game. It provides baseball with a “check yourself” moment that’s essential in every sport. Soccer has the hard slide tackle, basketball has close guarding and challenging on drives to the net, hockey has the hard body-check and all of football is dangerous.
    As long as you’re not hurling at batters heads, there’s no reason the punishment should be more severe than a 1 game suspension. Don’t forget, this is a competitive sport and sometimes as players they need to stand up for themselves.
    Even if you don’t like it, or think it’s wrong, retaliation pitching is an essential and fundamental part of the competitive sport that is baseball.
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