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Twinky

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Okay, you guys, you need to explain baseball to me.

I've just been reading a novel by John Grisham called "Calico Joe" about a promising young baseball batter who is deliberately targeted by a spiteful fast pitcher; Joe is hit on the head, severe head injuries, and never returns to the game.

I did some reading around this topic and it seems that it's legal to actually throw a ball intending to hit the opponent. WOT??? Sure it can happen that a batter gets hit - by accident, because of an error of someone's judgment - but to deliberately target not just the batter's body but his head... why is this not considered (criminal) assault and dealt with as such? Why only a poxy short suspension and maybe monetary penalty (fine) when there is a clear intention to hit another person with a weapon (ball) travelling at 90 mph? If a car was driven at another person at that sort of speed, there would be a wide range of criminal offences that would have been committed - possibly even attempted murder. There's really no argument that one "consents" to that sort of assault any more than a person driving a car down the road consents to being targeted by some road-rage driver.

Do tell me if I've got this wrong, and baseball players really do play like gentlemen. And not like thugs.

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Well, I think your right on a couple of counts Twinky. When I played baseball in school I got hit by a beanball that knocked me out for 2 seconds. Batters who try to crowd the plate (the pitchers strike zone) can get brushed back off the plate to keep the batter back. Batters do this, because it distracts the pitcher.

As far as being legal, to hit a batter intentionally in the head (or anywhere for that matter) it is against the rules. Umpires (they are guys with facemasks and are suited up like a catcher) can eject a pitcher out of the game if they determine that the pitcher deliberately hit the batter.

Intentionally hitting a batter is practised in baseball whether it is the choice of the pitcher, or by the choice of the coach. It is a black eye for the game of baseball. I wouldn't go as far as calling them thugs because baseball is all about strategy and it is a thinking game, which makes it so popular with kids playing baseball from grade school to college, and for that matter throughout the world. If for some reason say, some pitcher feels the need to hit the batter (maybe he made an obscene gesture about his wife), then he may get hit by a beanball. cool.gif

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Thanks for clarifying that, HWTB. Glad to learn that it is against the rules.

But this worries me and sounds contradictory to this:

Intentionally hitting a batter is practised in baseball ... It is a black eye for the game of baseball. ... If for some reason say, some pitcher feels the need to hit the batter (maybe he made an obscene gesture about his wife), then he may get hit by a beanball.

That sounds kinda like justifying violent behavior: "If for some reason say, some guy in the pub feels the need to hit another guy in the pub, then he may get a punch in the face." "If for some reason say, some driver feels the need to hit another driver (maybe he cut him up at a road junction) then he may punch him up."

Restrained behavior is expected in both those events, regardless of provocation; and failure to exercise restraint (ie punching out the other guy) is likely to earn the interest of the boys in blue. Why should baseball be different? Even contact sports like boxing and martial arts have proper rules about where and when an opponent may be hit.

In football (soccer), if you deliberately target an opponent and foul him by going for the man not the ball, you're likely to get sent off (ejected) and your team will play on without you and without a substitute, which usually results in the fouler's team losing the game. Doesn't that happen in baseball?

I can't see that a strategy of deliberately assaulting an opponent is sportsmanlike. In fact, strategically, it's cowardly because you're admitting you can't beat your opponent legally.

And what a terrible example to set young kids that like to play the game, when their role models get away with serious assault.

Edited by Twinky

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A big part of professional sports is pushing the legal limit, doing as much as you can get away with. Good sportsmanship, sadly, is no longer relevant.

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In 1920 a Cleveland Indians player died as a result of being hit in the head by a pitched ball. Sometimes pitches go where the pitcher didn't intend for it to go. Pro sports in America have so much money behind them that some athletes get tempted to do the unthinkable. In the beginning of that Bruce Willis movie 'The last boy scout' a football player is running with the ball and he pulls a gun out and shoots 2 or 3 would-be tacklers, then scores a touchdown and shoots himself. Doug Flutie, a retired NFL quarterback, once said he thought it possible that a defensive player could commit a premeditated murder and there'd be no way to prove it.

For the most part, pro sports are allowed to police themselves. The players seem to have their own code on what is acceptable and not. It would be a shame if too many players crossed the line and rules watered down the sport, but I suppose it's possible.

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Accidents can happen, Johniam, though less likely in baseball where there isn't a bounce (like in cricket) to potentially deflect the pitcher's aim. In these days of hard hats and (optional) cages round heads that sort of accident (or design) shouldn't happen at all.

Compare and contrast: Baseball helmet and Cricket helmet

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