Baltimore Orioles: Inside the bad blood
We can debate CB Bucknor’s decision to issue warnings in the first inning of last night’s game until the cows come home. Many fans of both Toronto and the Baltimore Orioles felt it was unnecessary. That’s all a matter of opinion, however at the end of the day this thing ended up involving a lot of players and coaches – including Adam Jones.
But I’m going to use my “bully pulpit” here to give you my reasons for my own view on the matter. MLB’s goal is to avoid fights at all costs. I’m the first one to tell you that some of these fights are fairly entertaining. In fact, if I’m bored during warmups before games I’ll sometimes surf youtube and watch baseball fights. However I’m also the first one to say that they leave a black mark on the league and the sport.
When the umpiring crew arrived in Toronto in advance of this series, they received reports on both teams – call them scouting reports if you will. Included in those reports was undoubtably something about the bad blood between the two sides (possibly dating back to 2013). So these umpires were well aware of what had gone on back in April.
Again, their goal is to prevent a fight. So when Bautista got hit, CB Bucknor issued warnings across the board so as to avoid further escalation. As I said in my column this morning, I don’t think that Mike Wright was trying to hit Bautista. Heck, if you’re going to intentionally hit someone, don’t just graze their jersey! But Bucknor took the stance that the law is blind in a sense, and tried to de-escalate the situation – which is what he’s supposed to do.
Toronto and manager John Gibbons felt they were being punished for one of their guys being hit, however that’s also not looking past the tip of one’s nose. The warnings weren’t about that specific incident, they were about the past. And if Gibbons wants to argue that the past should just be the past and so forth, then he might ask his slugger (Bautista) why he proceeded to glare at Wright, argue with Wieters, and run his mouth towards the Orioles’ dugout the entire way down the first base line.
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In turn, I don’t think that Adam Jones was hit intentionally either. I’ve said this
Courtesy of Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports
befoe, but umpires should apply just a bit of baseball savoir faire in these cases and ask themselves if someone would hit a batter in a given situation. Odds are that a team isn’t going to hit Adam Jones to load the bases and bring Chris Davis to the plate – especially with a 3-1 count.
However as I said this morning, the warning was in fact in place. And as I said above, the law is blind. Had Bucknor not run Osuna and DeMarlo Hale, he probably would have had to eject Buck Showalter (who would have argued that a warning was in place and his guy got hit). To his credit, Jones didn’t say a word on the way down to first base.
Incidentally, while Bautista reacted in a predictable manner on the field, he didn’t want to discuss the matter after the game. Whereas last time this flared up he ran his mouth about the Orioles to reporters after the game, last night he specifically said that he didn’t want to talk about it. And that’s to his credit.
Again, whether or not the warnings were just is up to debate. My personal opinion is that while it did affect the game in a negative manner from the Orioles’ perspective, it also served a purpose. The goal is to avoid a fight, and sometimes there has to be the threat of ejection or perhaps even further disciplinary action to make players think twice about what they’re doing.
This is not to say that there’s not a time and a place for hitting batters, because as most readers know I’m a strong believer in the unwritten codes of the game and the enforcement thereof. But the strong arm of the law also has to play a role in that, which is why CB Bucknor did what he did last night. And I’ll even take this a step further – if the umpires are really on point, they’re issuing warnings for today’s game as lineup cards are being exchanged right now.
Here’s another interesting point regarding this; it seems like these teams’ personalities were taken into consideration also in the events of last night. While Bucknor did what he did in the wake of a Toronto hitter being hit, it’s plain as day that Toronto’s a team that has no problem expressing their opinions about opposing teams and players in pubic. Jose Bautista was almost glaring accusingly at Mike Wright before that pitch grazed his jersey. And he appeared to have already rehearsed his walk down to first while antagonizing the Orioles’ dugout.
So take that, which is consistent with Bautista’s past, and look at the quick hook that Bucknor had on John Gibbons. Then look at Adam Jones’ walk to first after being hit (in effect saying and doing nothing), and look at how quickly Bucknor acted in ejecting Osuna and Hale. Granted, warnings were in place so he had to run them in a sense. But make no mistake about the fact that umpires see the mannerisms displayed by players – both good and bad.
Next: Baltimore Orioles: Watch your back