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August 31, 2000

The Daily Prospectus

Reflecting on Stupidity

by Joe Sheehan

Yesterday's column set a DP record for responses, and I want to thank everyone for the feedback. In the flood of responses, a few readers hit on the same two points, so I want to talk a little about them here.

The first common thread was that I'd misinterpreted the actions of Andres Galarraga in last Tuesday's game. Many readers believe that Galarraga did nothing untoward after being hit by a John Wasdin pitch, and that the brawl was caused by Wasdin's taunts.

I don't have a tape of the game handy, and enough people share a similar opinion that I'll probably have to concede the point. I certainly agree that the brawl was caused by Wasdin's mouth. Where I and many of you part ways is in determining whether the pitcher's anger was precipitated by anything Galarraga did.

At the time, and in retrospect when writing the column, I felt Galarraga acted as if he felt the pitch was delivered with intent. It's apparent that his actions can be interpreted differently, which would, of course, separate the Big Cat from what Gerald Williams did Tuesday night in Tampa Bay.

As far as Williams is concerned, more than a few people surmised that Williams may have been attempting to get Pedro Martinez ejected, in the hopes of improving the Devil Rays' chance of winning the game.

I have to say I disagree. The concept is one you see a lot in hockey, where a lousy player is sent out in an effort to draw a penalty, particularly a major penalty, from an opposition star. You simply don't see this in baseball, and there's a fairly good reason: an initial hit-by-pitch, with no prior action, isn't an ejectable offense. It's charging the mound, or retaliatory hit-by-pitches, than can be cause for ejection.

If Williams really went to the plate thinking, "If he hits me, I'll charge the mound and maybe get him tossed." I'd be quite surprised. It's simply a high-risk strategy with very little chance for success, and a significant risk of injury and suspension. It also mocks the game's integrity and even runs the risk of alienating the local fans, a portion of which no doubt showed up last night to see the great Mr. Martinez.

Readers 1, Columnist 1. I believe that puts Readers up 269-2 on the year.

  • Had a bad day? Not as bad as Jerry Spradlin, who gave up two singles and a home run to the Twins to turn an 8-4 game into an 8-7 one, then was released an hour later.

  • It's just about September and there are still ten teams in the American League within nine games of a playoff spot. I'm not a real big fan of the wild card, but there's no way that, with this system, 15 or 18 or 20 teams can go into Opening Day with no shot at the playoffs. Please, please, please remember that next spring, when the Chicken Littles are out.

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

Joe Sheehan is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
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