Bob Watson, MLB’s czar of punishment, came down with a five game suspension for Kevin Youkilis of the Boston Red Sox after Youkilis charged the mound in last night’s game beginning a benches clearing brawl. Youkilis was hit in the back by Detroit Tigers 20 year old right hander Rick Porcello, the second straight night Youkilis was hit in the back during a bean ball war between the Tigers and Red Sox.
Miguel Cabrera was also hit twice by the Red Sox hurlers. It appears both teams are pitching the better hitters “inside.”
MLB has always talked about protecting their players, not wanting to get their stars hurt.
That is why Youkilis should have been suspended at least 10 games.
I want to say that Youkilis used to be my third favorite MLB player behind Derek Jeter and Albert Pujols. All three players play the game exceptionally well, and go all out all the time, even hustling to first base on every batted ball. That is the way baseball is supposed to be played. Like my college coach used to say: “Always run hard to first base when you hit the ball, what else do you have to do for those five seconds?”
All those players hustle, and Youkilis even volunteers to play other positions when injuries hit the Red Sox. He is a first baseman by trade, moved to third when Mike Lowell was out, and moved to left field when Jason Bay was out. He also played second base last year and was drafted as a catcher.
My kind of player…until Tuesday night.
For him to go after the 20 year old Porcello, who probably has the most valuable young right arm in the American league, is beyond comprehension. From Porcello’s reaction after he threw the ball to his reaction when Youkilis came charging out to the mound, it was apparent that Porcello was not trying to hit Youkilis on purpose.
It was only fitting that Porcello ended up using Youkilis’ momentum to body slam the burly 1B/3B to the ground. But Porcello could have been seriously hurt, especially hurting his right arm during the pileup and melee that ensued.
Do Red Sox fans remember Bill (Spaceman) Lee? He was a very effective left handed pitcher for the Sox in the 1970’s and formed a pretty good one-two punch with Luis Tiant on those really good teams from the mid to late 70’s. On May 20, 1976, New York Yankee outfielder Lou Piniella barreled over Red Sox catcher Carlton Fisk at home plate. A brawl erupted between the two feuding teams.
During the melee, Lee (the starting pitcher in that game) separated his shoulder and, despite winning 16 games a few years later with the Montreal Expos, Lee was never really the same pitcher.
While MLB has said they want to protect their players, and want to end intentional hit batsmen, they need to take a look at charging of the mound situations. The scrums that ensue are more likely to harm a young player than any thrown ball plunking someone in the middle of the back.
During the typical “You hit my best hitter, so I will hit yours” scenario, getting plunked is a badge of honor. But it is not honorable to charge the mound on a 20 year old up and coming pitcher.
For Youkilis to charge the mound after such a pitch shows that these scenarios are in his head, that maybe he expects to be hit once a Red Sox pitchers hits a batter.
I am now advocating the continuous plunking of Kevin Youkilis to get him off his game. If any pitcher gets in a situation with two outs, Youkilis coming up and no one on base, I advocate the pitcher to hit Youkilis with a fastball in the back. This will rattle his cage a bit more.
Youkilis needed to take his plunking like a man and head to first base, and play the hard nosed game the way he always has. But he didn’t take it, and paid the price.
It just wasn’t the price that needed to be handed down.