With the recent news that Ubaldo Jimenez will receive a 5-game suspension for hitting former teammate Troy Tulowitzki on Sunday, I was blown away enough to share my thoughts on the subject.
Plain and simple, this is another in a long line of cases where the inmates, in this case the “outraged” media members, are running the asylum and the powers that be are just along for the ride.
Sure, 99% of what you will probably read today and tomorrow is about how despicable Jimenez is and how he should’ve been suspended and/or completely banned from baseball for life. Unfortunately, that’s not only nonsensical, it’s wrong.
I’m not saying that deliberately throwing at a batter is the right thing to do. Then again, I’m not saying it isn’t warranted in certain situations. Or maybe guys like Bob Gibson and Nolan Ryan had it wrong the whole time. Maybe today’s game has been toddlerized to the point where any pitch on the inner half of the plate is out of line and subject to discipline. I’m also not saying a guy that walked 5 guys that game, and is averaging 4.5 walks per 9 innings may have, you know, actually not meant to do it.
However, for the sake of catering to the media, and maybe reasonable thought, let’s say that Ubaldo was feeling vengeful. Let’s also say that he was fueled with the anger that only comes with hearing former teammates tell you to “shut your mouth, and not worry about what other people are doing.” Or maybe hearing them call you a bad, jealous, unreachable teammate, who has “something wrong” with them takes its toll. So, what’s the proper way to handle this situation? It’s not to go to the man’s house, challenge him to a fight by the old oak tree at 4 o’clock. In the baseball world, it’s to pitch him tight. If tight means tight enough to leave a bruise, as long as it’s waist-high or lower, so be it. Under no circumstances do you dot a guy above the numbers. Leafing through baseball’s famous unwritten rules, throwing at a guy’s back pocket seems to be right in line with how they were drawn up. Make no mistake; even if you believe Ubaldo threw at Tulo, he certainly didn’t throw at his elbow. The fact that Tulo turned his back and took it off the elbow is inconsequential. The ball ran inside and was headed for his belt. Purposeful or not, which of the two escalated the situation? For my money, it’s the guy that throws his bat down, starts walking towards the mound and calling the other guy a slang term for a female’s reproductive organs. Watch the video. Ubaldo did respond quickly, but he didn’t respond first.
Had Tulowitzki simply dropped his bat and took his base, situation over. But he didn’t, he challenged the manhood of someone who doesn’t exactly hold you in the highest regard. Jimenez, probably shouldn’t have responded by throwing his glove down and moving towards him, but how one can be suspended and not the other is ludicrous. I personally don’t think either should have been. No punches were thrown, it was simply two alpha males in their element.
This doesn’t even take into account the perceived intent part of the equation. Selig, as the judge, jury, and executioner, formed an opinion and acted upon it. Essentially he took money out of a guy’s pocket and hurt that player’s team because he thinks something happened. That not only flies in the face of what baseball is all about, but what America is all about. A guy with control issues hitting a player isn’t out of the ordinary. Again, I understand the circumstantial evidence. Tulo doesn’t care for Ubaldo, Ubaldo doesn’t care for Tulo, Ubaldo hit Tulo. But a suspension? Suspensions should be saved for circumstances that warrant suspensions and handed out without bias. Would Tulo have challenged Jimenez had he not been hit? Probably not. On the flipside, would Ubaldo have come off the mound if Tulo didn’t throw his bat down and challenge him… highly doubtful. Point is, that I don’t think either player was “wrong,” but I do think that Selig’s decision certainly was.
Perhaps the most absurd comments of the entire were from Rockies’ manager Jim Tracy who called it the most “gutless act he has seen in 35 years of professional baseball.” Really?! Really??? Aside from being able to think of countless, actual “gutless” things in baseball, on Tracy’s scale standing up for yourself is gutless? Wouldn’t that make Tulowitzki equally as gutless for challenging Ubaldo? Gutless is going after the guys head or livelihood. Dotting a guy for stepping out of line is what baseball is all about… Don’t believe me? Ask Bryce Harper in a couple years.