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August 30, 2000

The Daily Prospectus

Stupidity

by Joe Sheehan

Last Wednesday I wrote in detail about the Braves/Rockies game the previous night, the one that went 12 innings and ended with Brent Mayne as the winning pitcher. What I didn't get much into was the circumstances that led up to Mayne's appearance.

But after last night's fiasco in Tampa Bay, I want to take a second to point out just how utterly stupid some major-league baseball players can be.

In that game last Tuesday, the Braves had no one on base and two out in the top of the 11th inning. Andres Galarraga was facing the Rockies' John Wasdin, who had just come into the game. On a 3-2 pitch, Wasdin hit Galarraga on the upper arm.

Rather than head directly down to first base, Galarraga flung his bat away and glared out at Wasdin while taking a few steps in the general direction of first base. Wasdin, rightly offended at the idea that the pitch was intentional, expressed his displeasure with Galarraga in a colorful manner. Galarraga charged the mound, and hilarity ensued, with both principals being ejected.

Let's look at this. It's the 11th inning; it's three and two; why in the name of Don Drysdale would Andres Galarraga get bent out of shape about a pitch that was in no possible way intentional? There was no reason for him to react to the pitch, and while Wasdin's taunts escalated the situation and are also inexcusable, I have some sympathy for him: he had to know he didn't want to put the winning run on base, and to watch Galarraga act as if he'd been thrown at must have been aggravating.

Flash forward to last night. The leadoff man for the Devil Rays in the bottom of the first inning is Gerald Williams. On a 1-2 pitch, Pedro Martinez hits Williams on the left wrist with what looked like a breaking ball that got away. Williams starts towards first base, looks at his wrist once, twice, then charges the mound.

Yeah, Gerald. Pedro Martinez has you down 1-2, and he decides that this would bae a real good time to put you on base. Hell, if I'm Gerald Williams, I'm thinking a hit-by-pitch is my best chance to get on against Pedro.

What was even better was Larry Rothschild going crazy over the fact that Williams was ejected and Martinez wasn't. Martinez didn't do anything untoward. While there's a case to be made that John Wasdin exacerbated his situation last week, all Martinez did was put up his arms to block Williams's attack. For this he should be ejected? A couple hours' work on his defense with Roy Jones, maybe, but no ejection was warranted.

It's not always about you, you idiots. Not all hit-by-pitches are intentional. The ones that are generally don't happen in the 11th inning, or on breaking balls, or with two strikes. Want to know want throwing at a batter looks like? Check out what Doug Creek and Tony Fiore did to Brian Daubach in the seventh inning of last night's game.

Here's hoping Frank Robinson takes a sane approach to this one.

Joe Sheehan can be reached at jsheehan@baseballprospectus.com.

Joe Sheehan is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
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