"It's not a tea party"
That's a quote I got some time ago from Dr. Bobby Brown, the former Yankee who became American League president. I was interviewing him after he ruled lightly on a beanball incident during the 1980s.
The reason I bring that up is because I'm getting some posts about last night's purpose pitch over the head of Phillies hitter Shane Victorino, which almost sparked a brawl during Game 3 of the National League Championship Series at Dodger Stadium.
There are always calls for a zero tolerance policy for that kind of incident, but Brown was pointing out that it's not practical, because of the intensity of the game and the fact that the purpose pitch might actually not be a purpose pitch. It is possible to accidentally throw a ball near someone's head. Just ask Daniel Cabrera.
But the players know which is which and there are going to be times when they handle the situation themselves, which sets up a check and balance system that -- believe it or not -- has worked pretty well over the years.
If the umpires threw every pitcher out who threw a suspicious pitch, it would change the nature of the game dramatically. If you want an example from another sport about the folly of that kind of over-officiating, just go back the Terrell Suggs, roughing call last week. It had a huge impact on the game, even though there was very little actual contact. I don't want the same kind of thing in baseball.