Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Josh Towers: Weakest Man Alive

I despise the practice of intentionally beaning players as a means of obtaining revenge, be it for a home run, a previous beaning, some perceived slight, or for failure to adhere to baseball's seemingly endless list of unwritten rules. While batsmen are going to get hit in the normal course of things, the fact is that pitches have killed people before, so intentionally trying to hit someone strikes me as one of the more reckless things a ballplayer can do. This isn't foreign policy where a failure to meet aggression with force will lead to war, death, and destruction. It's a game, and the high road is always open for traffic, even if it is rarely travelled.

Not that the practice is ever going to stop based on the hand-wringing of an overly-cautious geek like me. Indeed, it was on full display yesterday in Toronto, as A-Rod got beaned, apparently as payback for I-got-it-gate, and Clemens beaned Alex Rios in the back as payback for the payback. Zaniness ensued after each incident.

As far as revenge beanings go, Toronto's was pathetically weak. The original casus belli occurred on May 30th. Rodriguez didn't come to bat again that day so it's understandable that revenge would have to wait. The Jays had ample opportunity to plunk him during their series in Yankee Stadium July 16th-19th, however, and didn't so much as look at A-Rod cross-eyed. Indeed, after the June 16th game, Jays' manager John Gibbons said that "As far as [he's] concerned, it's over."

But it wasn't over, obviously, as yesterday's delayed justice demonstrates. When I first read about it, I assumed that the reason why A-Rod didn't get plunked during the July 16th game was because whoever it was pitching for the Jays that night shared my feelings about hitting players and decided to let it go. Then I looked at the box score: The pitcher on July 16th was Josh Towers, the same guy who beaned Rodriguez yesterday. There are only two possible explanations for why Towers would fail to hit A-Rod in July but then do so yesterday:

1) He tried to hit him in July and failed to do so due to poor control; or

2) He was opposed to hitting A-Rod in July for the same reasons I am, took crap from his teammates for not hitting him in the interim, and decided to rectify the situation yesterday.

If the reason was poor control, Towers has no business whatsoever sending purpose pitches, because he's just as likely to Ray Chapman someone as he is to plunk his calf. If it's reason number two, Towers is a man of weak convictions who can easily be bullied by teammates into doing something he wouldn't otherwise do, which is simply pathetic.

But whether you think Towers is reckless or simply weak, we can all agree that he's an excellent example of callow youth based on this:

Towers said his problem the second time was with Pena, not Rodriguez. "I heard somebody chirping when I was talking to Lyle (Overbay) and I didn't think it was Alex and I asked who it was," Towers said. "Tony Pena is running his mouth off and I was like, 'What's this guy running his mouth off for?' This dude is a quitter. He managed a team and quit in the middle of the season because he couldn't hack it. He's going to run his mouth off? So I ended up getting into it with Alex a second time."

Tony Pena is a 50 year old first base coach who has sanitary socks older than Josh Towers. Mere seniority doesn't make someone right, but between the two of them, I give Tony Pena the right to run his mouth off before I give Josh Towers the right to question Pena's commitment to the game.


64cardinals said...

Actually, beaning is a reference to hitting a batter in the head. Hitting a batter in the knee or back is not considered beaing. Semantics maybe, but important anyhow.

And I would have to disagree. While I agree that no pitcher should ever throw at anyone's head, at any time, for any reason, I don't have an issue with a pitcher hitting a batter from the ribs on down.

This isn't ballet, its baseball. But this does have the world round. Whether its city hall sending a nasty notice, or a law firm sending a letter on behalf of a client, everyone sends messages. Each area just has to find out what is the most effective form for them.

In baseball, its a pitch in the ribs.

Brian said...

I think you missed a potential reason why Josh Towers might not have thrown at arod before last night. The last time he faced him was in New York, not Toronto. Not sure what that really means for a player, but maybe he was scared of beaning an opposing player in said players home park.

Statistics Born said...

I agree with Brian.

Don't worry, shysterball guy, I also agree with you. Throwing at people is my least favorite part of the game, except losing my home team's shortstop or my fantasy team's pitcher to suspension.

Shyster said...

64: Thanks for the clarification (I never really thought about the semantics of it). As for the ethics of hitting people: understood. I realize that I am in the distinct minority when it comes to this issue.

Brian -- That occurred to me after I posted. I guess I'd say that if Towers is afraid to plunk A-Rod simply because he's in NY, he probably shouldn't be in the business of plunking anyone. The whole concept of the revenge plunking is about protecting your teammates and equaling the score. Public opinion (or boos) shouldn't enter into it.