Rob Noverraz breaks down a few of his favourite moments in all of baseball…
‘Baseball is a game of pitching, batting, fielding and running; none of us want to see brawls.’
Half of the previous sentence is accurate and that’s why brawls get so much press. I think a more accurate version of that sentence is ‘Baseball is a game of pitching, batting, fielding and running; none of us want to see people get hurt during brawls.’
With that in mind I’ve taken a look at some of the mound charges that have caused brawls.
Nyjer Morgan (Nationals) vs Chris Volstad (Marlins) September 1st 2010
The background: The night before this took place Morgan had smashed though and hurt Marlins catcher Brett Hayes in an attempt to dislodge the ball on a close play at home. Knowing he had a beaning coming he gritted his teeth, took it and trotted down to first without saying a word. Feud over? Nope. He proceeded to steal 2nd and then 3rd which got the Marlins’ collective backs up again. When Volstad threw behind him in the 6th the red mist descended.
The Charge: There’s a split second hesitation before the bat is shot out towards the home dugout. There’s no trot, no sizing up and nothing said, Morgan makes a bee-line for Volstad. The lanky Marlins’ Pitcher throws down his glove and appears to tense every muscle in his body before expertly avoiding the incoming punch whilst managing to keep hold of his opponent’s shirt putting him off balance.
The brawl: Volstad’s first baseman Gaby Sanchez doesn’t miss a beat and crushes Morgan with a devastating clothes-line worthy of any professional wrestling ring before further punches can be thrown. Volstad goes down with Morgan and pummels him on the floor as the rest of the teams pile on. Nationals INF/OF Mike Morse can be seen arriving late and digging his way through the melee in order to drag his team mate out.
The fallout: Morgan emerges after the fight with his Jersey torn arms over his head as if he’s celebrating winning a fight he clearly lost. Both managers, Morgan, Volstad and a couple of relievers were ejected. Sanchez was himself drilled later in the game.
David Justice (Indians) vs Troy Percival (Angels) August 31st 1999
The Background: Closer Troy Percival had just given up a 3-run home run which proved ultimately to be the difference in a ludicrous slugfest that ended 12-14 in the Indians’ favour. Rather than dealing with his disappointment like an adult he appears to decide that beaning a large man with a helmet is a better idea.
The Charge: Justice gets full marks for style. He drops the bat and menacingly stares at the floor as he seems to grow to twice his natural size. He purposefully removes his helmet and takes 3 steps that aren’t towards the mound and aren’t towards 1st. Percival goes hands on hips but is clearly tense. The fourth step has a direction changing little skip and all of a sudden David is bearing down on the offending closer at a flat sprint. Menace, rage, a full sprint; what could improve that? How about a pinpoint accurate helmet toss that strikes your opponent between the shoulders? BOOM! Of course, nobody at Batflip Towers* would condone the dangerous throwing of equipment at another person but the accuracy in that throw given the circumstances was very impressive.
The brawl: After the expert helmet throw the initial coming together of the two players is closer to tickling than fighting. 3rd baseman Troy Glaus tackles Justice and Percival is held back by Bengie Molina before any real punches can be thrown. Once Justice is on the deck the fight seems to go out of him. Percival is restrained and baying for blood downgrades to the American equivalent of ‘He’s not worth it Kev’ as the pugilists are pushed away by their teammates.
The Fallout: Both players received 3 game suspensions which seems a little skewed. Sure Percival threw at his opponent and a ban was probably fair, but Justice didn’t get any more than that despite charging the mound and trick-shotting his helmet off the pitcher’s back.
Kevin Youkilis (Red Sox) vs Rick Porcello (Tigers) August 11th 2009
The Background: The previous night had seen tit for tat plunkings back and forth. The Red Sox hit Miguel Cabrera so the Tigers hit Kevin Youkilis so the Red Sox hit Brandon Inge etc etc and it carried on to the next day. Miggy got hit again at the top of the first and Porcello narrowly missed Victor Martinez in the bottom of the inning. Nearly hitting someone wasn’t enough so in the bottom of the second Porcello petulantly tried again and caught Youkilis in the shoulder.
The Charge: Youkilis barely wastes a heartbeat grimacing at the crowd before he charges at Porcello. That split second is all it takes for home plate ump Brian O’Nora to work out what’s about to happen as he’s up and moving before Youkilis charges. Porcello makes a pathetic attempt to pretend it was an accident as he backs off at pace presenting the appearance of a man who knows he’s about to be run down by a bear. Youkilis makes a decent effort of throwing the helmet at his prey but it’s artfully dodged by Porcello.
The brawl: As Youkilis finally catches up with Porcello, you fear the worst for the more slightly framed pitcher, however, with a judo-esque transference of weight the tables are turned and Youklis hits the deck first under Porcello’s control. The pair are immediately steamrollered by three onrushing fielders from Detroit preventing them from firing off any further combative moves. Curtis Granderson looks for some afters but is held away by colleagues.
The Fallout: Youkilis and Porcello were ejected. Managers Jim Leyland and Terry Francona had a long chat after the brawl which you would assume was in an attempt to end the madness. Both players got 5 game suspensions and Porcello is now running out for the team he threw at.
That’s it for now, there’s plenty more brawls, shoving matches and displays of petty name calling out there, stay tuned and there may be more soon.