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July 9, 2011

"It's not a tea party"

The headline refers to something that former American League president Dr. Bobby Brown said to me once to explain his lack of concern for a minor beanball incident back in the day. The attitude toward aggressive pitching has changed over the years, but it was refreshing to see Kevin Gregg take an old-school attitude to the mound on Friday night.

Mind you, I wouldn't have been in his corner if he had thrown a headball at David Ortiz. That would have been bush league and nobody should be out there trying to hurt an opposing player. But he has a right to pitch inside and Ortiz has a right to swing 3-0 in a six-run game and they both have a right to get mad at each other.

Ortiz probably should have been smart enough to restrain himself, because the Red Sox have way more to lose when he gets suspended for charging the mound. He's having a great season and they are in first place, so a suspension could cost the Sox an important game in the standings. Gregg will probably get a day off, but he's a closer on a losing team who has only about a 40 percent chance of playing in any given game anyway.

Anyway, their little shoving match added some entertainment value to an otherwise uninspiring evening and will add some suspense to tonight's game. Who knows what Alfredo Simon and John Lackey are going to do with all that pent-up emotion from last night.

Posted by Peter Schmuck at 3:11 PM | | Comments (13)
Categories: Just baseball


I agree agree with you about throwing at the head; there is no place for that ever. But, the 3 inside pitches he threw were hardly enough for anyone to get excited about, and in fact he popped out on yet another inside pitch. Britton left one out over the plate in the first, and we all saw what he did with that (including Ortiz, who spent too much time admiring it in my book). Gregg is correct that you have to use the whole plate. Maybe he did come a little too far in, but it was at his midsection, for God's sake. The Sox do it all the time, especially Beckett, who seemed to take so much offense to Gregg's pitching. Personally, I hope we pitch them inside the rest of the series. What we've been doing sure hasn't worked.

What a minor dustup that was. I've had the pleasure of seeing many worse. My all-time favorite was May 15, 1960 in Crosley Field. In a game that got testy, Phillies pitcher Gene Conley hit Eddie Kasko with a pitch. In the 8th inning, Reds relief pitcher Raul Sanchez proceeded to hit two consecutive batters, bringing Conley to the plate. Everybody in the stadium knew what was going to happen next. Sanchez plunked Conley in the back with his first pitch. Phillies manager Gene Mauch bolted from the dugout and charged the mound. Sanchez just stood there until Mauch got about six feet away, then took one driving step down off the mound and decked Mauch with one hard punch. It was nearly a half hour after both teams swarmed the field before order was restored! Great game!

MLB has taken too much of that from the game. I've seen both Willie Mays and Frank Robinson put on their backsides with "chin music," as they used to call it, and then get up and hit the very next pitch out of the park.

Don Drysdale or Bob Gibson would have put David Ortiz on his backside, not just jumping back from an inside pitch. If you are going to jump out over the plate, you can expect to get nailed.

A sportscaster once said to
Drysdale, "You'd knock down your own mother on Mother's Day, wouldn't you?" to which Drysdale responded "If she was crowding the plate!"

Much ado about nothing. Nobody was hurt thankfully, I just wish the O's could get as fired up and excited about actually playing the game.

Reading the sentence about the change of attitude toward aggressive pitching reminded me of that list that you and someone else complied, and appeared in Baseball Digest in the mid 1980s, on the old unwritten baseball rules. I don't remember them all but I do remember the one stating that if one of your players gets knocked down by a pitch, retaliate.

Old time baseball use to be a "wild and wooly" experience. Compared to the old days that little ruckus last night was a lot to do about nothing, but it sure did liven up an otherwise forgettable game.

Tonight could prove to be interesting.

Pete's reply: The next game wasn't much, but I'm more impressed that you remember that article by me and Randy Youngman, when we were both with the Orange County Register.

Peter - Since the Orioles will be drafting in the top two or three again(its hard to believe isn't it Peter) how many years does Angelos want to pay for the huge bonus' of every yerars Oriole high draft selection?

When will Angelos say "enough is enough" and either sell the team or find a top notch GM and player personnel director?

How long can this team continue to be the "laughing stock" of the American League?


Yes, headhunting is clearly something that can't be tolerated, but I wouldn't have minded a bit if Kevin had deliberately hit him lower, say on the thigh. Ortiz had it coming for styling after that three-run homer.

However, I disagree with you on a couple of points.

First, your likening of two acts doesn't ring true to me.: "(Gregg) has a right to pitch inside and Ortiz has a right to swing 3-0 in a six-run game "

Pitching inside is something a pitcher should be able to do at anytime in the game without anyone having a problem with it; he has as much right to the inner half of the plate as does the batter. Kevin did nothing wrong.

Ortiz, contrary to what you write, doesn't have an absolute right to swing at a 3-0 pitch in a 10-run game in the 8th inning, because of the unwritten rule that says a team doesn't keep piling on the runs when it's leading in a rout.

So, Gregg did nothing amiss pounding the ball inside, but Big Papi was totally bush league by swinging at a cripple pitch in that situation. (But really, he was bush league from the outset of the incident by mouthing off at the first inside pitch, which wasn't even that far in).

Second, in your column today you wrote that Buck's closed door meeting didn't make a difference for the Orioles; maybe not initially, but Gregg's comments after the game clearly show him channeling Showalter all the way (which I thought was great--I also like Adam Jones continuing to show a "we're not going to back down" attitude).

Showalter seems immune from criticism. If Trembley had a close door, read the riot act meeting and the Orioles dropped the eggs they have right after that, he would be mocked. If Trembley had intentionally walked two players only to have the next batter get RBI hits, he would have been roasted. The errors committed (mental and physical) nightly would fall on him. If the pitching coach quit two months into the season, there would be more scrutiny.

Buck knows baseball and puts on a good PR spin in his comments, but he must not have taken the comments from his buddies at ESPN and throughout baseball serious enough. I'm sure he is thinking, 'it really is as bad as they said. This is not good for my baseball resume'.

With all of the demotions to the Oriole starting staff, they have found a new way to stockpile the farm system.

(I wish I had come up with that on my own.)

Get back. Get back. Get back to where you once belonged.

(I wish I had come up with that on my own, too.)

Before the 2010 season started -- yes, 2010 -- I expressed grave concerns about the Orioles funneling the arms they were growing through the wormhole and into the majors. The should have been nurtured and developed against their peers to the point they were dominating.

I wanted the Orioles to sign major league talent to bolster the starting rotation. Heck, I wanted that prior to 2010, too. Can't do it in one off-season. That way the young guns could have developed properly.

Meanwhile, we could have sorted out the keepers with the trade bait. Even if the trade bait wasn't traded, the Orioles could have gotten supplemental draft picks for ... you know ... stocking the farm system.

But that didn't happen. Let's see what these studs can do was the battle cry from The Fallout Shelter (a.k.a. Warehouse) and from those who think signing free agents is akin to visiting a whore house.

The freshness has worn off. And once again the Orioles are faced with a roster in different phases of rotting on the vine. The one commonality is the product stinks.

I have never used F to spell MacPhail. However, the C-minus I gave him earlier in the year for his tenure is closer to being amended that way.

Meanwhile the Nats are near .500, the Pirates are over .500, Albers is mowing Orioles down as a Red Sok, Hernandez is gathering saves for somebody else in his new role, and the Chesapeake baseball fans have to be wondering what did we do to deserve this.

I didn't see the pitch but I am guessing the reason it was assumed he was throwing at Big Poopi because he didn't hit him.

Say good night, Gracie.

"Good night, Gracie."

(I wish I had said that, too.)

Peter - Do you think this current collection of Orioles would be competitive in the International League?

It's been a tough year for the O's. Check out this musical history of the team and tribute to baseball in general. It reminds us of the rich history and tradition we have here in Bmore- a tradition we can hope to return to some day.

So.... Who do we take with the top draft pick next year?

Great comment by Dan Shaughnessy :
Memo to Orioles: If you want to complain about guys pimping homers and not playing the game correctly, don’t give up eight homers and 20 runs in two games and lose a million games every year. Memo to David Ortiz: Style at your own risk. Old-schoolers like me believe it’s not the way you play the game. Act like you’ve been there before. If you’re going to admire homers, stare at a guy who throws a first pitch a little inside, swing at 3-0 pitch with a 10-3 lead in the eighth, and fail to run out your popups and grounders, somebody might call you on it. We all applauded madly when Carlton Fisk called Deion Sanders a “piece of [expletive]’’ and told him to run out a popup. How is this different?

Are the Oriole pitchers throwing tonight for the Home Run Derby? Seems like a perfect fit!

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About Peter Schmuck
Peter Schmuck wants you to know that, contrary to popular belief, he is more than just a bon vivant, raconteur and collector of blousy flowered shirts. He is a semi-respected journalist who has covered virtually every sport -- except luge, of course – and tackled issues that transcend the mere games people play. If that isn’t enough to qualify him to provide witty, wide-ranging commentary on the sports world ... and the rest of the world, for that matter ... he is an avid reader of history, biography and the classics, as well as a charming blowhard who pops off on both sports and politics on WBAL Radio. That means you can expect a little of everything in The Schmuck Stops Here, but the major focus will be keeping you up to the minute on Baltimore’s major sports teams and themes, whether it’s throwing up the Orioles lineup the minute it’s announced or updating you on the latest sprained ankle in Owings Mills. Oh, and by the way, that’s Mr. Schmuck to you.

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