Anatomy of Reaction: Timeline to Disaster
John F. Paciorek
There is a runner on first base. The batter hits a hot shot that bounces off the heel of the pitcher. The ball ricochets toward the short-stop position. Since the short-stop instinctively moved toward 2nd base on the initial batter contact, an alert 3rd base-man fields the ball and attempts a quick but forceless, reverse under-hand toss to the short-stop who is standing for an inordinate amount of time on 2nd base, waiting apprehensively for the arrival of the ball.
As the play is transpiring, a hustling, aggressive runner is speedily running from first to second base. Upon seeing the ball eventually being fielded, his training and athletic instincts demands of him an attempt to break up what could be a double-play. However, the only aspect difficult to immediately calculate is a time-differential not customarily applied to the now given situation.
Because a runner usually decides to take out the fielder after or as the ball is being caught in preparation to be thrown, this particular runner doesn’t calculate correctly the precise time in which to slide. The consequence of his ill-timing is disastrous to the fielder, potentially hazardous to the runner/slider, and enormously disastrous to the sequence of events that follow during this game, and the games that follow.
After the slide, and the effect it has on the now injured short-stop, the runner initially exhibits genuine concern for the fielder. But the over-zealous attention, brought on by the obviously injured fielder’s teammates and the umpire, presents a futility to his plea for reconciliation, which no one is willing to take to heart.
As the umpire somewhat forcefully escorts the “defendant” off the field, all non-essential players continue a verbal barrage of condemnation and justification toward each other, a solution harmonious to ultimate reconciliation being far removed from present status. Baseball, at its Finest!? NO!
Nothing more belligerent occurred during that game, but “Karma” seemed to have interceded on behalf of the team suffering the “fallen player”. Last moment heroics portended a “come-from-behind” victory . You would have thought that the baseball “gods” would have been appeased by the fortuitous outcome for those beleaguered warriors. But NOOOO! The worst was yet to come.
The pitcher of revenge-seeking team was either instructed, or took it upon himself, to rectify his teammate’s misfortune, and struck the “culprit” of the opposing team with a 95 MPH fast-ball, for which he was immediately ejected (without warning). Then the “Bean-ball” war began, and carried onto the next day’s ballgame. What a blatant display of unsportsmanship, combined with lack of respect, human dignity, and an unimaginable demonstration of bestial ferocity! All because of a simple misappropriation of logistical intent! And, of course, the team that started that day’s fracas lost the game (when will “idiots” learn – “Karma don’t do dat”). (And the following game ended the same way Karma again prevailing.)
If the runner initially had more reasonably assessed the timing of sequential action, he would have discerned that his own speed would have garnered a “safe” response from the umpire had he merely extended his leg and foot to the base, instead of ramming the shortstop with his entire body. As it was, he still beat the throw with his incorrect and inappropriate slide, the fact of which went unnoticed by the umpire because of his hyper- concern for what transpired in the aftermath. Everyone involved was at-fault, therefore everyone was to blame, and there-after everyone should have been “forgiven”. They were all trying to do their jobs to extreme heights.
At the most passionate of moments, the runner was thinking, “what do I do to help my team the most?” The short-stop, out of position, but closer to the bag than the second baseman alertly thinks, “the time-frames are cutting it close to impending doom, but I need to help my team”. The 3rd baseman’s lunge with extended glove gave no mechanical advantage to his effort to relay the ball with adequate force and speed, but “it’s my last ditch effort; what the hell”. And the umpire, no doubt appalled by the ferocity of the slide, and it’s immediate effect, made no call on the play, but hastily attended to the victim while incorrectly removing the runner (who was actually safe) from the field of play, intuitively recognizing the ramifications that were sure to follow.
Who was at fault? No one! Who is to blame? Everyone who participated in the action of that specific play! But all of them was/is entitled the right of forgiveness! But the debacle that followed is inexcusable, especially when you think of the motive behind the actions of all those players who participated in that inexplicable play – to WIN, with honest effort! The behavior that followed can never be forgiven, because it should not, and would not, ever present itself if M.L.B. would enact a new rule that would make it virtually impossible for a pitcher, manager, team, or Organization to seek retaliation for anything that occurs during the course of the game. The Rule would state that: “If any pitched ball that could be assessed at optimum, or near optimum, speed should hit a batter, that batter would be allotted 2 bases (not one)”.
This simple rule would satisfy those teams and managers, as well as players themselves who suffer the pain and indignity of their opponents’ justification that they were merely pitching inside, and the ball got away. That would’ve been fine if the victim and his team didn’t suffer the consequence of the disabled list and rehabilitation, especially to a “star” player. Nor would pitchers feel the obligation to “protect” their own players! The ultimate consequence to that pitcher or team whose propensity to throw recklessly “inside” is the uncompromising prospect of putting a runner immediately into scoring position, not to mention the beneficence to those runners already on base. Only the most selfish, arrogant, and probably non-contending teams would consider such flagrant dis-concern for winning. ( See a previous article, on my blog, dated March 19, 2015.)
Does Major-League Baseball truly want to stop the violent behavior that occurs almost always after a batter has been hit by a speedily pitched ball, or is IT merely giving “lip-service” to attempt to placate those fans who are repulsed by that barbaric tendency of most pitchers to stoically disregard the “well-being” and possible “livelihoods” of players whose healthy bodies are a requirement to continue in the game they (also) love to play (effectively)? There never was a good excuse to tolerate the abuse, and now there is absolutely no excuse for not obliterating its use in Major League Baseball.