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Cardinals and Cubs throw down in 1974: They don’t make brawls like this anymore

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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:

Josh Johnson retires from baseball

PEORIA, AZ - FEBRUARY 21: Josh Johnson #55 of the San Diego Padres poses during Picture Day on February 21, 2014 at the Peoria Sports Complex in Peoria, Arizona. (Photo by Mike McGinnis/Getty Images)
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Oft-injured pitcher Josh Johnson is retiring from baseball, ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick is reporting.

Johnson, 32, hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2013. The right-hander underwent his third Tommy John surgery in September 2015 but wasn’t able to bounce back.

Johnson spent most of his career with the Marlins, but also pitched for the Blue Jays in the big leagues, as well as the Padres in the minors. He retires with a career 3.40 ERA, 915 strikeouts across 998 innings in the majors, and two All-Star nominations. Johnson led the National League with a 2.30 ERA in 2010, finishing fifth in NL Cy Young Award balloting. One wonders what he could have accomplished if he was able to stay healthy.

Report: Angels close to a multi-year deal with Luis Valbuena

HOUSTON, TX - JULY 08:  Luis Valbuena #18 of the Houston Astros hits a three run walkoff home run in the ninth inning to defeat the Oakland Athletics 10-9 at Minute Maid Park on July 8, 2016 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
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The Angels are nearing a multi-year deal with free agent third baseman Luis Valbuena, Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register reports. It’s believed to be a two-year contract with a third-year option.

Valbuena, 31, hit .260/.357/.459 with 13 home runs and 40 RBI in 342 plate appearances in 2016. He missed most of the second half with a hamstring injury, for which he underwent surgery in late August.

Valbuena has played a majority of his career at third base, but also has extensive experience at second base and has racked up innings at first base and shortstop as well. He won’t play every day for the Angels, as Yunel Escobar lays claim to third base and C.J. Cron first base, but he will give them flexibility and a left-handed bat off the bench.