Sideline Report: MLB is becoming soft

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‘An eye for an eye’ is an old mantra that involves getting revenge and righting wrongs. The series between the Royals and the Oakland Athletics over the weekend attempted to carry this out. If you aren’t already aware, on Friday, April 17, Athletics’ third baseman Brett Lawrie had a hard slide into Royals’ shortstop Alcides Escobar which looked a lot worse than it turned out to be. Whether it was a “dirty play” or not is still up for debate, but Royals fans blew up after seeing Escobar limp off of the field. The benches cleared and tensions were high after the play. The natural response, of course, is to get back at Lawrie someway, somehow.

There is an unwritten rule in baseball that if your player gets hit/hurt, your team’s pitcher beans, or hits the opponent, with a pitch the next day. The Royals followed suit in Saturday’s game when Royals pitcher Yordano Ventura hit Lawrie in the elbow. Lawrie handled it like a true professional, taking his base after being hit by Ventura’s fastball (which must have hurt since Ventura has been known to throw 100+ mph). The umpire, however, was having none of it. He promptly ejected Ventura from the game. This outraged Royals manager Ned Yost and pitching coach Dave Eiland,ending in both Yost and Eiland being ejected as well. Benches cleared for the second time this series, and both teams were furious with how the events transpired. One would have thought that Lawrie getting hit would have settled everything.

Sunday’s game proved that everything was not OK, at least with the Royals. Pitcher Kelvin Herrera decided to escalate things even further by throwing a pitch inside on Lawrie, almost hitting him. Then on the subsequent pitch, Herrera aimed for Lawrie again, missing behind his back. This didn’t set well with Lawrie and the Athletics, with benches clearing for a third straight game. Herrera was ejected, and as he walked to the clubhouse, he looked at Lawrie, pointing to his head. Lawrie was further offended, speaking on it to the media in a passionate rant. Let’s just say that these teams don’t really like each other at the moment.

After it was all said and done, Herrera was given a suspension of five games and Ventura was fined. No punishment was given to Lawrie for his slide. This shows how baseball is becoming soft. 20-25 years ago this was commonplace in Major League Baseball, beaning someone and moving on. Everyone knew how it worked and nobody batted an eye. Now there is so much money involved with players and safety is held to a much a higher standard, with recent implementations including the rule of runners not being able to crash into catchers at home plate.. I value player safety as much as the next guy, but this is ridiculous. Ventura should not have been ejected, especially since Lawrie showed no signs of injury. Herrera probably shouldn’t have thrown at Lawrie, but suspending him for five games seems excessive. If MLB commissioner Rob Manfred wanted to send a message, then it was definitely received. Apparently, times have changed and ‘an eye for an eye’ won’t be tolerated.

This whole situation blew up in everyone’s faces. The Royals did win the series, but little incidents led to overreactions and actions from MLB itself. I understand times have changed, but I don’t think suspensions were warranted. Fines should have been enough to send a message, or maybe some sort of action from Yost. This is a tough situation to handle, but the result is concerning to the future of our national pastime.

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