Ryan Ventura

The best (and worst) bench-clearing brawls of all time

65 Comments

I was not at all pleased to see Carlos Quentin and Zack Greinke go at it last night.  And I am on record as saying that throwing at guys is dumb. And that charging the mound is dumb. I am glad that fights are fewer and more far between now than they used to be back in the day, but I’d like to see them eliminated totally.

That said: some of these brawls can be kind of fun to watch if you put your hangups about such things aside.

Here are some of the more memorable ones, in no particular order:

Nolan Ryan vs. Robin Ventura, 1993:

This one needs no introduction, for we’ve seen it a zillion times. It’s often called an epic beatdown by the elder, just-about-to-retire Ryan on the poor young Ventura. But in reality Ventura fought back fairly decently after weathering Ryan’s initial, famous assault:

OK, maybe Ventura still got totally owned, but history would have you believe that Ryan knocked him into next Tuesday. It was next Sunday at best.

Braves vs. Padres, 1984

Pascual Perez hit Alan Wiggins and it led to not just one, but multiple fights throughout the game. If this happend today the Internt would break:

Juan Marichal vs. John Roseboro, 1965

This one was scary. Marichal had thrown inside to two Dodgers hitters early. When he came to bat later in the game, the Dodgers catcher made a point to throw the ball back to pitcher Sandy Koufax in such a way as to have it sail close to Marichal’s head. Marichal flipped out, clubbed Roseboro with his bat and then a lengthy brawl ensured. Roseboro needed 14 stitches. Marichal was suspended for eight games. It coulda been way, way worse:

Orioles vs. Yankees, 1998

Armando Benitez threw one in Tino Martinez’s back. All hell broke loose:

Kevin Youkilis vs. Rick Porcello, 2009

First pitch plunk, a mound charge, a helmet throw and then a skinny ground ball pitcher does what he does best: buries Youkilis into the ground with a nice takedown. My girlfriend, a Tiger fan, has a picture from this one framed and displays it in our home.

Major League Baseball won’t let us embed this one, but you can see it all here.

Pete Rose vs. Bud Harrelson, 1973 NLCS

This one was more notable for the timing of it than the actual fisticuffs. You just don’t see fights like this in league championship series, as no one wants to risk a suspension or injury with so much at stake. But then again, when Pete Rose is involved, all bets are off:

Don Zimmer vs. Pedro Martinez, 2003 ALCS

Another LCS fight, this one with a much greater age difference than the Ryan-Ventura fight.  Since it occurred, Pedro has said that he really had no idea what to do with the then-72 year-old coach charging him — Pedro also claims Zimmer was going to punch him and was insulting his mother —  so he sort of did an ole-job. Zimmer’s response to that in 2009? “Pedro is full of crap … It’s what, six years later? If Pedro wants to be a big man, I don’t care what he says.” Let’s just agree to disagree, gentlemen, and agree that this was hilarious:

Tigers vs. White Sox, 2000

I couldn’t find video of this one but I remember it well from the SportsCenter clips that night. Tigers starter Jeff Weaver hit Carlos Lee with a pitch. The next inning Jim Parque hit Dean Palmer. Palmer charged the mound, threw his helmet, and the fight was on. Unlike today’s pushing and shoving, guys were really punching each other. There was blood and guts and everything.

Field:

Hey, not all of these get their own category. Sometimes you just gotta listen to some bad music and watch baseball fights in montage form:

Got a favorite I missed? Let’s talk about them in the comments. But please: let’s keep it civil. I don’t want to have to eject anyone.

Mike Matheny tried to have his own son picked off at first base

PHOENIX, AZ - AUGUST 26: Manager Mike Matheny #26 of the St Louis Cardinals looks on from the dugout during the first inning of a MLB game against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field on August 26, 2015 in Phoenix, Arizona. The Cardinals defeated the Diamondbacks 3-1. (Photo by Ralph Freso/Getty Images)
Ralph Freso/Getty Images
3 Comments

Cardinals manager Mike Matheny has a son, Tate, who was selected by the Red Sox in the fourth round of the 2015 draft out of Missouri State University. Tate, an outfielder, spent the 2015 season with Low-A Lowell and last year played at Single-A Greenville.

Now in spring camp with the Red Sox, Tate is trying to continue his ascent through the minor league system. On Monday afternoon in a game against his father’s Cardinals, Tate pinch-ran after Xander Bogaerts singled to center field to lead off the bottom of the fifth inning. Mike wasn’t about to let his son catch any breaks. Via Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:

That’s right: Mike tried to have his own son picked off at first base. That’s just cold, man.

Tate was erased shortly thereafter when Mookie Betts grounded into a 6-4-3 double play. Tate got his first at-bat in the seventh and struck out.

Do we really need metal detectors at spring training facilities?

sloan-metal-detector-1
Craig Calcaterra
10 Comments

MESA, AZ — Over the past couple of seasons we’ve, more or less, gotten used to the sight of metal detectors at major league ballparks. And the sight of long lines outside of them, requiring us to get to the park a bit earlier or else risk missing some of the early inning action.

Like so much else over the past fifteen and a half years, we’re given assurances by people in charge that it’s for “security,” and we alter our lives and habits accordingly. This despite the fact that security experts have argued that it’s a mostly useless and empty exercise in security theater. More broadly, they’ve correctly noted that it’s a cynical and defeatist solution in search of a problem. But hey, welcome to 21st Century America.

And welcome metal detectors to spring training:

scottsdale-metal-detector

Beginning this year, Major League Baseball is mandating that all spring training facilities use some form of metal detection, be it walkthrough detectors like the ones shown here at the Giants’ park in Scottsdale or wands like the one being used on the nice old lady above at the Cubs facility in Mesa.

I asked Major League Baseball why they are requiring them in Florida and Arizona. They said that the program was not implemented in response to any specific incident or threat at a baseball game, but are “precautionary measures.” They say that metal detection “has not posed significant inconvenience or taken away from the ballpark experience” since being required at big league parks in 2015 and believe it will work the same way at the spring training parks.They caution fans, however, that, as the program gets underway, they should allow for more time for entry.

And that certainly makes sense:

sloan-metal-detector-2

I took this photo a few minutes after the home plate gate opened at Sloan Park yesterday afternoon. As I noted this morning, the Cubs sell out every game in their 15,000-seat park. That’s a lot of wanding and, as a result, it could lead to a lot of waiting.

But the crowds here all seemed to get through the line pretty quickly. Perhaps because the wanding is not exactly a time-consuming affair:

Not every security guard was as, well, efficient as this guy. But hardly anyone walking through the gate was given a particularly thorough go-over. I saw several hundred people go through the procedure soon after the gates opened and most of them weren’t scanned bellow the level of their hip pockets. I went back a little closer to game time when most people were already in the park and the lines were shorter. The procedure was a bit more deliberate then, though not dramatically so. This is all new for the security people too — spring training just started — and it’s fair to say that they are trying hard to balance the needs of their new precautionary measures against the need to keep the lines moving and the fans happy.

On this day at least it seemed that fan happiness was winning. I spoke with several fans after they got through the gates and none of them offered much in the way of complaint about being wanded. The clear consensus: it’s just what we do now. We have metal detectors and cameras at schools and places of work and security procedures have been ratcheted up dramatically across the board. That we now have them at ballparks is not surprising to anyone, really. It’s just not a thing anyone thinks to question.

And so they don’t.