On Tuesday night, we were treated to yet another example of Yordano Ventura’s desire to start fights.
The fuse was lit in the second inning when Ventura threw a couple of fastballs up and in to Manny Machado, who responded with a stiff glare and some trash talk after he flew out. Then in the fifth inning and trailing 5-1, Ventura sent a fastball at 99 MPH — his fastest pitch of the night — right into Machado’s back.
A melee ensued. Machado immediately charged at Ventura, hit him with a right and then basically DDT’ed Ventura into the mound. It was ugly and it certainly could have been avoided.
But this is what Yordano Ventura does when he’s not striking batters out at a declining rate or issuing walks at a rising rate. A similar incident occurred last April when Ventura, once again on the losing side of things, decided to drill Brett Lawrie with a 99 MPH fastball.
A week before that, Ventura got in Mike Trout’s face for … some reason. In his start directly following the Lawrie beaning, Ventura instigated a brawl with the White Sox after mouthing off to Adam Eaton because … I really don’t know why. It’s quite difficult to identify Ventura’s modus operandi all the time. He was tagged with a seven-game suspension for his role in that donnybrook, a ban that felt like a make-up call on MLB’s part after it only fined Ventura for throwing at Lawrie.
And now he has done it again to one of the biggest stars in the game. Already frustrated with the look of his box score, Ventura decided to take it out on Machado at ninety-freaking-nine miles per hour.
What’s to come of this? It’s tough to say. Baseball has sent a message in recent years with its penalties — or lack thereof — for beanball pitchers. Since the start of 2012, only two pitchers have been suspended more than six games for intentionally throwing at batters. That’s one fewer than the number of pitchers who have received such suspensions for using pine tar. The Diamondbacks’ Ian Kennedy set the recent high-water mark in 2013 when he was banned for 10 games after throwing at the heads of Yasiel Puig and Zack Greinke.
Perhaps Ventura won’t get 10 games (I mean, he tried to hurt only one batter). But he should. He is now a repeat offender, choosing on multiple occasions to throw as hard as he can with the intention of inflicting pain on another baseball player. The fact that he did it to an MVP-level player this time should carry some weight as well.
Ventura was compared to Pedro Martinez as he made his way through the minors for his delivery, slight build, eye-popping velocity and nasty offspeed stuff. He’s got another thing in common with Martinez now*. People romanticize how Pedro would pitch inside and intimidate hitters. Shortly following the brawl, I heard some TV broadcaster say, in relation to Ventura, at least Martinez never tried to hurt anyone (Hey, Gerald Williams! Hi there, Karim Garcia!).
That is ridiculous. This shouldn’t be dolled up “old school” baseball. This is dangerous and could be construed as criminal. Yordano Ventura can continue to jabber and piss off opponents and likely some of his teammates when he tries to get under a batter’s skin. The larger issue is the 25-year-old has hit a batter in consecutive years on purpose with a 99 MPH fastball. That really, really needs to be seen as more egregious than scuffing the ball with pine tar.
*Actually, an affection for the beanball should be considered the only thing Ventura and Martinez share as pitchers currently because Yordano has been one of the league’s worst on the bump this season and hasn’t come close to living up to the hype.
I’ll begin with the end of Dan Uggla’s 33-game hitting streak, which didn’t continue today thanks in large part to a ridiculous running catch by the Cubs’ Darwin Barney.
But does anyone really care that much? Sure, in Georgia and in areas of the Southeast, I’m sure many were glued to their seat for every at-bat. There just didn’t seem to be a lot of hype surrounding Uggla’s chase of 56 elsewhere. Maybe it’s just me as I’ve been too wrapped up in the crazy last few weeks in the NFL, or the fact that I live on the West Coast. Maybe Uggla lacked a certain flair. Maybe it’s because Uggla is a .230 hitter who was gunning for one of the most storied offensive records in the sport.
Uggla’s hitting streak was the fourth-longest since the turn of the century. For whatever reason, I seem to remember a lot more attention being paid to Luis Castillo in 2002, Chase Utley in 2006 and Jimmy Rollins in 2005-06. Even Andre Either’s 30-game streak earlier this year took up more of our time. Again, my perception may be warped because I live near Los Angeles, but I think people will have a hard time remembering
5-10 2-3 years from now what Uggla did this season because it wasn’t really treated as a big deal in the moment.
Still … 33 games with a hit in a row! That is freaking impressive.
An Upcoming Episode Of ‘The Franchise: A Season With The San Francisco Giants’ Just Got A HELL Of A Lot More Interesting!
In my review of the most recent “Franchise” episode, I basically said it was the most disappointing of the series.
But I guarantee disappointing won’t be a word I use for a future episode as long as it showcases what happened tonight between the Giants and the Phillies.
FIGHT! FIGHT! FIGHT! FIGHT! FIGHT! FIGHT! FIGHT!
Considering Wednesday’s show spent most of its time covering the happenings during last week’s Giants-Phillies series in Philadelphia, I’m sure this incident will get a lot of air time. And you know a lot of those players were wearing microphones.
“Hey, (expletive) you, (expletive)! (Expletive) stop it. (Expletive) (expletive)! It worked for “The Sopranos,” so if Showtime can get 30 minutes out of this thing, I’m all for it.
Best part of the fight? Umpires and coaches unable to hold back the 5-foot-9, 190-pound Shane Victorino as he spears his most hated Giant … 44-year-old hitting coach Hensley Meulens. Hey, it’s a dog-eat-dog world. You gotta keep your head on a swivel, man.
And I don’t want to even think about the carnage that must have been taking place in the middle of that scrum for a good 25 seconds (notice everybody looking down soon after the two sides converge).
Victorino, catcher Eli Whiteside and pitcher Ramon Ramirez were ejected. The Giants’ TV broadcast team were questioning why Whiteside got tossed from the game; they said he was just trying to protect his pitcher. Note to baseball players: During a brawl, there are many, many, many, many, many, many ways to protect your pitcher without attempting to score a two-point takedown. Unfortunately for Whiteside, his move wasn’t successful.
The Phillies won an otherwise-dull game, 9-2, but who cares? That’s already been forgotten.
Baseball benches and bullpens clear sometimes just for the hell of it. But this was a legitimate, full-out, go-for-the-throat baseball brawl.