Detroit Tigers: The bean ball and players hitting the DL
In less than one year, several Detroit Tigers players have gone on the disabled list after getting hit by pitches.
Whether they were intentional or not, these Detroit Tigers injuries show how serious a bean ball can be.
Even though baseball is one of the safer professional sports, it is all too common for players to be hurt by errant pitches. It is time for the intentional hit-by-pitch to stop.
“Beanball culture” was the topic of a recent article in Sports Illustrated. Writer Jack Dickey shared a troubling stat about the constant epidemic:
"“Roughly two batters are hit every three games, a figure that has held constant for more than 20 years.”"
He figured that this number translates to about 1,600 hit-by-pitches annually. That is a staggering number, especially considering the speed of those pitches.
Tigers with HBP injuries
In 2016 and 2017, the Tigers lineup has suffered from players being hit and injured. In 2016, Nicholas Castellanos was hit in the hand by a pitch in early August and missed the rest of the season. In 2017, JaCoby Jones was hit in the face in April and James McCann was hit in the hand. Both suffered from lacerations that required stitches and stints on the 10-day DL. Jones is lucky that he only needed a 10-day DL trip – he could have had more serious injuries.
The culture of retaliation is one that needs to stop. The recent episode between Bryce Harper and Hunter Strickland shows how petty “beanball culture” really is. Harper has had success hitting off of Strickland, but by no means should any pitcher intentionally try to hit a player – especially in the face. A fastball coming in a 90+ MPH can do permanent damage not only to the physical appearance of a player but a pitch striking the face could do brain damage, too. This is much more important than getting “revenge” for a player showing a bit of attitude after hitting a home run.
Not much reaction time
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Even though a hitter has a helmet and a bat, pitches come in so quickly that the hitter is practically defenseless. Professional, Major League pitchers rarely miss their spots and when they do, it isn’t by much. Hitters, who know that pitchers are accurate in their throws, do not expect balls to come in at their faces. When a pitch is aimed at the face, there is so little time to react. When the pitch is thrown with intent to harm, Major League Baseball should take action.
Dickey suggested that the MLB gives pitchers 10-games suspensions if the hit-by-pitch is intentional. It may not be enough to give a pitcher a 10-game suspension, especially if the pitcher is a starting pitcher. Ten days translates to two starts. Dickey also suggests a longer suspension if the intention hit is above the waist. I’m of the opinion that a pitcher should be suspended for a significant amount of the season if he intentionally hits a player in the head. A fastball to the face could be deadly.
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There is no reason that a pitcher should ever retaliate for a home run, a bat flip, or a little bit of attitude from a batter. These are grown men, not teenage drama queens. Instead of going for the hit-by-pitch, wouldn’t it be more effective to go for a strikeout instead?