First, it was the beanball war between the Red Sox and Orioles, starring Manny Machado.
Now it’s the Nationals and Giants recovering from a good old-fashioned baseball brawl in San Francisco on Monday.
Here’s the question: Is there anything Major League Baseball can do to put an end to beanballs before some one gets seriously hurt with a 95 mph heater to the face?
Giants relief pitcher Hunter Strickland was reliving the 2014 National League Division Series, a series won by the Giants even though Bryce Harper hit two monster home runs Strickland, who apparently likes to hold a grudge.
By the way, the Giants went on to win the World Series that season.
But on Sunday at AT&T Park, Strickland was thinking more about the Harper home runs and how he and Harper gave stink eye and chirped at each other during the course of the game.
So when Harper came to bat in the eighth inning, Strickland threw a 98 mph fastball at Harper’s hip.
Harper pointed his bat toward the mound and dropped it. Then he took off after Strickland. Harper threw his helmet at Strickland, but it curved wide right.
As far as baseball brawls go, this was an ugly one. Both Harper and Strickland landed punches.
Three Giants teammates had to hold back Strickland. The Nationals’ Ryan Zimmerman corralled Harper until he cooled down.
Giants catcher Buster Posey stood out of the way, and didn’t bother to stand in front of Harper charging to the mound. That shows that Strickland had no business throwing at Harper.
How out-of-line was Strickland?
Consider that none of his Giants teammates came to his defense.
Strickland is at fault because trying to get revenge after failing to get Harper out in the playoffs almost three years ago is ridiculous.
But it is also ridiculous for Harper to lose his cool, throw a helmet and put his teammates in jeopardy of possibly getting hurt in what is shaping up as a magical season.
It is ridiculous that the culture of baseball says it is all right for a pitcher to intentionally throw at a hitter and then explain with an excuse nobody on either team believes.
How much more silly would Strickland have looked like if Harper had just walked to first base?
Wonder if Harper, after watching the video, wishes he had done that?
Strickland and Harper will each be suspended, Strickland should sit out more games than Harper.
But will it change anything? Is there a rule that can be made to make it all stop?
The answer to the first question is no, because baseball players have been policing the sport since the beginning.
And no rule is going to penalize a player for standing up for himself. That would be ridiculous.
This is how it is.
As Nationals outfielder Jayson Werth says, “It’s a part of baseball.’‘