Just when I thought it was safe to step away from my computer, there’s this.
I knew it when it happened, just after Fernando Rodney managed to preserve a Tiger’s win Friday night in Tampa. Rodney heaved the baseball into the stands following a poor performance that he was somehow still awarded a save for.
Rodney was upset, as he should have been, for allowing the Rays to make things far too interesting in turning a 4-1 game into a 4-3 win. He had walked the first two hitters he faced, and threw over 35 pitches in that terrifying ninth inning before finally recording the final out.
Jim Leyland gave Rodney the next two nights off and Brandon Lyon recorded two saves without incident. It looks like Lyon will be doing a little more of that soon. Rodney’s three game suspension would have begun tonight in Kansas City, but will be pushed back pending appeal.
I’m not here to tell you how the suspension is somehow unfair, or how Rodney’s actions were without malice. Frankly, that doesn’t matter. Rodney did not hit or harm anyone with his throw, but he could have, and that is really the issue here.
Fans are expected to pay attention during the game, and to guard themselves from any flying objects that may enter their area during the course of play. Rodney’s toss occurred after the game ended, when the fans were gathering their belongings and heading for the exits. There was nothing further to be watching for, no more action to take place. Fans should feel the risk of being hit with a ball ends when the final out is recorded.
Ultimately, I would love to never have had to write any of this, and if Major League Baseball hadn’t seen fit to hand out a suspension, I likely wouldn’t have. What Rodney did was dumb, and it will cost him financially. I doubt it causes any real damage to his reputation, as he has never had any previous run-ins. I would expect he will learn from his actions and the incident will go unrepeated.
As for when Rodney will serve his suspension, I would guess he will drop his appeal upon pitching a game or two. Since he has not thrown since Friday, I’d think he would like to see a game or two of action to keep from having an extended layoff between outings. If he throws tonight and tomorrow, I’d bet he would drop his appeal and go ahead and take the next three games off.
With the Tigers playing the Royals and Blue Jays coming up, the time to miss would be now, instead of waiting and possibly missing a series against the Twins, when the games would take on even more significance.