This popped up on a baseball Facebook group I’m on. It’s from 1974, and it’s the sort of fight you rarely if ever see anymore. Punches thrown with purpose and guys running in from the benches and bullpens to actually fight as opposed to half-heartedly shuffle around in an effort to avoid being accused of not having their teammates’ backs.
The kicker here, however, is that what set this off was not some guy getting plunked. It was a pitcher taking too long to get to the rubber and a batter repeatedly stepping out of the box. Yep: what is now annoyingly commonplace was, 40 years ago, a causes belli.
Of course it wasn’t mere delay that led to this. As the Kinescope Steals Home blog noted in its extended description last fall, the pitcher was Al Hrabosky, whose pre-pitch routine was extreme even by today’s standards. He’d stomp around behind the mound, smack his head and generally make Brian Wilson look like an accountant. This bugged Bill Madlock who, as The Mad Hungarian went through his routine, stepped back to the on deck circle to put pine tar on his bat. He stepped in, Hrabosky stepped off and it turned into a battle of wills.
It got so bad that Cubs manager Jim Marshall came out to argue. The umpire, who unlike today’s umps used his power to get the game moving, ordered Hrabosky to pitch even though Madlock wasn’t in the box and even though the on deck batter, Jose Cardenal and Marshall were at home plate. Hrabosky buzzed everyone (Madlock had jumped into the box by then) and even though the ball was way high, the ump — not content to let everyone else star in this show — called it a strike. More arguing. Then Cards catcher Ted Simmons decided, screw it, he’d had enough, and punched Madlock in the face.
I don’t approve of violence. But when it’s 40 year-old violence and everyone turned out OK, well, I may enjoy it a little bit:
New Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto has kept pretty busy in his short time on the job and Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune reports that free agent outfielder Nori Aoki could be his next target. The club recently pursued a trade for Marlins outfielder Marcell Ozuna, but the asking price has them looking at alternatives.
Aoki, who turns 34 in January, has hit .287 with a .353 on-base percentage over four seasons since coming over from Japan. He was having a fine season with the Giants this year prior to being shut down in September with lingering concussion symptoms.
The Giants decided against picking up Aoki’s $5.5 million club option for 2016 earlier this month, but he should still do pretty well for himself this winter assuming he’s feeling good.
It was reported Sunday that free agent right-hander Johnny Cueto had turned down a six-year, $120 million contract from the Diamondbacks. He’s hoping to land a bigger deal this winter and ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick has heard some chatter about what he’s looking for.
Jordan Zimmermann finalized a five-year, $110 million contract with the Tigers today, which works out to $22 million per season. Arizona’s offer to Cueto checked in at $20 million per season. A six-year offer to Cueto at the same AAV (average annual value) as Zimmermann would put him at $132 million, which is still a little shy of the figure stated by Crasnick. Of course, Cueto owns a 2.71 ERA (145 ERA+) over the last five seasons compared to a 3.14 ERA (123 ERA+) by Zimmermann during that same timespan, so there’s a case to be made that he should get more. Still, he’s the clear No. 3 starter on the market behind David Price and Zack Greinke.
CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reports that the Dodgers, Giants, Red Sox, and Cubs are among the other teams who have interest in Cueto. One variable in his favor is that he is not attached to draft pick compensation, as he was traded from the Reds to the Royals during the 2015 season.
The rebuilding Braves have already been active on the trade market and they might not be done, as CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reports that right-hander Shelby Miller has been a very popular name. In fact, around 20 teams have checked in.
Nothing is considered close and the Braves have set a very high asking price, mostly centered around offense. They asked for right-hander Luis Severino in talks with the Yankees and would expect outfielder Marcell Ozuna among other pieces from the Marlins. The Diamondbacks and Giants are among the other interested clubs.
Miller is under team control through 2018, so there’s not necessarily a sense of urgency to move him, but anything is possible with the way the Braves are doing things right now. The 25-year-old is coming off a year where he went 6-17, but that was about really rotten luck more than anything else, as he had a fine 3.02 ERA and 171/73 K/BB ratio over 205 1/3 innings. The Braves gave him the worst run support of any starter in the majors.
Jenrry Mejia appeared in just seven games this past season due to a pair of suspensions for performance-enhancing drugs, but Adam Rubin of ESPN New York reports that the Mets are expected to tender him a contract for 2016.
While the Mets were vocal about their disappointment in Mejia’s actions, it makes sense to keep him around as an option. Had he played a full season in 2015, he would have earned $2.595 million. He’s arbitration-eligible for the second time this winter and figures to receive a contract similar to his 2015 figure, but he’ll only be paid for the games he plays. He still has 100 games to serve on his second PED suspension, which means that he’ll only be paid for 62 games in 2016. This likely puts his salary closer to $1 million, which is a small price to pay for someone who could prove useful during the second half and beyond. He also won’t count toward the team’s 40-man roster until he’s active.
Mejia, who turned 26 in October, owns a 3.68 ERA in the majors and saved 28 games for the Mets in 2014. He’s currently pitching as a starter in the Dominican Winter League.