This article will discuss why don’t pitchers apologize for hitting a batter.
“Pitchers get criticized when they intentionally throw at a batter; they get criticized when they are late getting back to the dugout.”
In the past week, the Los Angeles Angels, Texas Rangers, Baltimore Orioles, and Oakland Athletics hit batter after batter. This should be an issue, but it’s not.
The only time the league has tried to punish players who intentionally throw at a batter, it didn’t do much.
It might be that batters don’t make an issue out of it. Either way, the word “apologize” is absent from the conversation.
Understand first that most pitchers do not intend to hit the batter. The pitcher tries to throw the ball, and that is usually where the problem starts.
The ball is flying through the air at a 95 mph to 99 mph velocity, and the batter has it out in front of him. The batter can’t react fast enough and react after the ball is on its way to him.
The batter doesn’t hit the ball in stride, so he gives it a ride.
When you see a pitcher throw a fastball in a strike zone, it’s the batter who hits the ball in the air. There is no intent on the part of the pitcher to hit the batter.
The idea of apologizing to a batter for throwing at him is a relatively new one. Barry Bonds once said he didn’t apologize to anyone who didn’t hit the ball.
Ben Cherington, former GM of the Boston Red Sox, said his philosophy on throwing at a batter was “Don’t throw at the pitcher. If the batter makes contact, I guess you apologize for not doing your job.”
Alan Fudge, former GM of the Philadelphia Phillies, told the Philadelphia Inquirer, “When I was a young player in the 1980s, [former Yankee] Nolan Ryan was a regular guy, a big, popular star, and he wasn’t afraid to hit a player.
I disagreed with it, but I knew he was trying to pitch inside, and a lot of players did the same thing to him. It got to be more personal later. Players tend to come at each other with guns drawn now because they know they can get away with it.”
When a pitcher hit Mike Piazza in 1996, the pitcher said he was sorry, but he got a lot of criticism because Piazza never complained.
“If someone gets drilled by me,” Cy Young said, “I think I’ve earned the right to get hit. Some guys get hit a lot that never say anything.”
Consider the news conference that new Arizona manager Chip Hale and San Diego manager Andy Green gave after their benches got tangled up in the Padres 10-9 win last Monday night.
Green lost his temper after being hit in the face by a 92 mph fastball from Hale in the first inning. He started yelling at Hale and got in the manager’s face, but neither manager was suspended.
New York Yankees manager Joe Girardi did not apologize when Yankees pitcher Austin Romine got hit by a 96 mph fastball from Michael Pineda in the seventh inning last Thursday. No one can really complain about this one.
It was a pitcher trying to pitch inside and Romine getting hit.
Boston Red Sox manager John Farrell said about Romine getting hit: “I think that there’s too much emotion there at times. … You’d have to ask Austin what happened.
If he felt that he had an opportunity to make some statement, I think it’s appropriate.”
Bettis and Chad Bettis, the pitcher’s son, said it was all good. They were there to support their father, and they did it in a more calm way than Green.
“If anybody was gonna take a swing, it was Chad,” Kyle said. “He’s a little bigger than Austin, and he has a lot more experience with it. He took a good blow to the face and came out of the game.”
This incident came a day after Dellin Betances hit Cleveland’s Francisco Lindor in the face with a 97 mph fastball. Lindor and Betances exchanged a few words, but nobody got suspended, and both pitchers went on to have good games.
Had Green gotten thrown out of the game after the hit by Piazza or when Romine got hit, you can bet both benches would have been empty by the time they met to talk things out. There would have been no need for a players-only meeting.
Instead, when the Indians were trailing 10-4 in the top of the eighth and Cleveland had runners on first and second, Cleveland manager Terry Francona decided to take out Kluber and put in reliever Nick Goody.
Francona didn’t think he had any better chance of keeping Kluber from facing Piazza than he would have had of trying to avoid getting hit by him.
“I was really concerned,” Francona said. “I didn’t want him to get hit.”
So the players met in the clubhouse and came up with the idea to pitch inside. Puckett had a role in the meeting, but he didn’t participate in the meeting.
“Nobody threw a punch,” Carl and Kyle Puckett said. “No one threw a chair. We all sat in a circle, and we were trying to think of things, and it kind of just evolved from there. But we didn’t want to get into a fight, either. It was an interesting meeting, but nobody swung.”
The most dangerous pitches don’t result in bench-clearing brawls. They result in ejections, then suspensions, then complaints from the team that got hit.
“It’s an automatic nine-game suspension now for anybody that gets hit,” Francona said. “You get hit; you gotta sit.”
Pitching inside has gotten people hurt.
It’s gotten people suspended.
Nobody wants to see that anymore.
Indeed, a pitcher always gets a check if he hits the batter in the head. But that is because the manager or trainer will run-up to the plate and say, “I need to see your hands,” and if the pitcher can’t get to his hands quickly enough, he might get charged with the $250.
What if a pitcher hits a batter who is not an easy out? How can the pitcher get back on the mound if the batter hits him in the back?
This is a problem that every pitcher has to deal with because it happens often enough that the pitcher knows the drill. The pitcher can usually take a few seconds and get to his hands before the batter can get to his feet.
And the pitcher is usually not embarrassed by doing it.
Once the pitcher gets to his hands, the pitcher will grab the baseball with his left hand and wipe his right hand on his pants. This is to be sure there are no germs from the glove or the ball on his pants.
Then the pitcher can put his right hand on the back of the batter’s head and deliver a fastball right in the batter’s grill.