Thursday, December 25, 2014

Tony La Russa doesn't understand the problem with headhunting

"I hereby decree that hurting players on purpose is cool." (Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
"I hereby decree that hurting players on purpose is cool." (Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

Arizona has rebranded itself as the team with grit, the team with guts, the team that isn't afraid to hurt you physically for no reason other than their feelings are hurt. This constitutes "toughness" on the part of manager Kirk Gibson, whose culture of frontier justice is so instilled in his roster that they won't hesitate to perform his twisted bidding.

Several nights ago, Diamondbacks slugger Paul Goldschmidt was hit on the hand by a Pirates' pitch, and Arizona became so incensed by the very common occurrence that they had pitcher Randall Delgado throw at Pirates star Andrew McCutchen, hitting him in the back and eventually causing him to be labeled day-to-day.

Gibson denied it was on purpose, as did Delgado and catcher Miguel Montero, and if they're not going to admit it for no reason, then baseball will take no action. But it's perfectly in line with the style the Diamondbacks have been playing with for years now.

As with all arguments, the correct side is of course the one with Tony La Russa on it, even if you have to take a meandering, inconsistent, highly-flawed route to get there.

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  • La Russa, the Diamondbacks' Chief Baseball Officer (seriously, that is the title) and Ancient Defender of the Way of the Unwritten Rules (Even the Ones that Contradict the Other Ones) (that is not seriously the title), had some thoughts on how wrong the Diamondbacks were to throw at McCutchen on purpose in retaliation for the Pirates hitting Paul Goldschmidt by accident. His thoughts were that the Diamondbacks weren't at all wrong.

    From AZ Central:

    “I don’t see where the Diamondbacks should catch all this (expletive) they’re catching,” La Russa said . . . La Russa believes the Pirates were still responsible regardless of intent.

    The crux of his argument lies in what he believes to be the Pirates’ pitching philosophy. They don’t just pitch inside, La Russa said. They pitch up and in. And by choosing to do so, they have to live with the consequences."

    HOW DARE YOU PITCH IN A PARTICULAR PART OF THE PLATE, PIRATES. Don't you know the rules? I know it's tough because, remember, they're not written down anywhere, but still. You played in the same division as La Russa for all those years and you still can't grasp that Rule No. 657-A states:

    "Doing anything that makes it harder for Tony La Russa's team to win the game is HIGHLY frowned upon*."

    *by Tony La Russa

    This harks back to the recent non-incident in which Colby Lewis of the Rangers became furious with Colby Rasmus of the Blue Jays for bunting away from a defensive shift. His - and La Russa's - arguments literally come down to them not wanting to lose the game. Which is fine, but don't blame the other team for also trying to win it. You're not playing for the Globetrotters, this is an unscripted sport - both teams want to win.

    Yeah, a team that favors pitching inside, or up and in, is more likely to hit a player. But it's never on purpose, and if they weren't a bunch of pitchers who could consistently throw inside without hitting batters and therefore allowing baserunners, then that wouldn't be their philosophy.

    As usual, MLB took swift action on Gibson and Delgado, choosing almost immediately to do nothing, and have stuck to their guns ever since, despite harsh criticism from nearly everyone. Not Tony La Russa though, who probably has a rule not written down somewhere about his team never being fined or suspended for purposely injuring other players.

    We all know nothing will come of this, and eventually somebody will bump into a Diamondback player while jogging off the field, and Kirk Gibson will have a reliever put one in the guy's eye, and Tony La Russa will smile and nod. Because that's the Diamondbacks Way.

    No wonder they don't want any of this written down.

    Justin Klugh Philly.com
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