Intentional Plunkings in Baseball Have to Stop

Hitting batters to send a message is an accepted part of baseball, but Joe Healy is sick of it.

I’m sure it’s no worse than it has been at any point om the last hundred years, but over the last couple of weeks, I have noticed a trend of intentional hit by pitches in Major League Baseball.

A couple of weeks ago, over the span of just a few days, we had a flurry of activity that centered around hit batters.

There was the spat between John Lackey and Matt Joyce after Joyce concluded that Lackey threw at him. Then there was the tiff between the Giants and Pirates that started when the Giants didn’t take kindly to a hit batsman that resulted in Freddy Sanchez’s hand being broken. Most notably, we had a bench-clearing brawl between the Dodgers and Diamondbacks that was sparked when Yasiel Puig, Miguel Montero and ultimately, Zack Greinke, were hit by pitches.

Generally, the “fights” that come out of the benches being cleared are much ado about nothing. The teams come out, talk a big game, point and yell and then everyone goes back to their corner. But this one was different. We had a little bit of everything. We had players throwing legitimate punches, coaches thrown up against the camera well by the dugouts and a little “blast from the past” fighting with the likes of Matt Williams, Kirk Gibson, Turner Ward and Mark McGwire getting in on the action.

I joke, but the scene was disappointing to me. Then again, I’ve never been a fan of the pseudo-macho posturing that ends with someone getting hit on purpose.

I guess it’s just because my baseball career ended in high school, but I don’t get it.

Why would you hurt your chances of winning a given game in order to “send a message?” What does that prove?

The reasoning most often given is that you have to show the opposition that you aren’t going to back down and that you won’t take anything lying down, but that just comes off as silly to me. Do you get docked runs or wins if you are labeled as a team that doesn’t hit batters for revenge? If not, then why does it matter?

And why would you want to keep up with everything that goes into it? When teams get down the rabbit hole of having to keep score of who has been hit and how many times your team has been hit, it gets to be too much. I’m sure it puts a lot of pressure on the pitcher on the hill at the time as well. The way I see it, if teams put all the energy it takes to keep score of hit batters into getting batters out, there would be no need to “send a message.”

I think what it boils down to is that players just need to be less sensitive.

So a guy stood and watched his home run a little longer than you would have liked. Big deal. He hit the ball a long way. Let him enjoy it. If you don’t want it to happen, make a better pitch. For people that are elite athletes doing what they love and making a ton of money doing it, MLB players sure are insecure.

Look, I get that these players think they are standing up for the game by getting back at players that “disrespect the game,” but games that feature that type of back and forth retribution have an eerie feel to them, making it hard to focus on the contest itself. I would argue that’s as disrespectful to the game as anything else.

Please, baseball players, just stop. Hitting batters for revenge adds nothing to the game and just makes everyone look bad. And if you just need an outlet for your pent up aggression, try hockey. I hear that they could use a few more goons.

Joseph Healy writes for The Fan Manifesto. You can follow him on Twitter at @Joe_On_Sports. You can follow the entire FanMan team here.


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