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Hunter Strickland receives a six-game suspension, Bryce Harper four

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Major League Baseball has issued suspensions to Hunter Strickland of the Giants and Bryce Harper of the Nationals in the wake of their brawl yesterday. The sentences: Strickland has received a six-game suspension, Harper four games.

Earlier today I wrote that the brawl itself was dumb and that, if Major League Baseball issued typical suspensions for such things, they too would be making a big mistake. Welp, they did it. These suspensions are misguided, do not reflect the level of culpability of Strickland and Harper and, worst of all, encourage pitchers to throw at hitters in the future.

Hunter Strickland is a relief pitcher who, over the course of six games, may pitch 2-3 innings. Harper is an everyday player who, over the course of four games, will patrol the outfield for 36 innings and have 20 plate appearances. So, already, Harper is missing more action, even if he’s missing fewer games, and the Nats are being punished far more greatly by Harper’s absence than the Giants are by Strickland’s.

What’s more, as I argued this morning, Strickland’s act — nursing a dumb three-year grudge and then intentionally throwing a fastball at Harper with the intention to hurt him and at the extreme risk of hurting him badly if his aim was off — was worse than Harper’s. No, Harper should not have charged the mound and thrown his helmet, but the man was provoked and every sensible justice system on the planet treats premeditated acts of violence more harshly than ones driven by the heat of the moment. Not MLB’s, apparently.

Finally, this creates a bad incentive: the incentive to throw at opposing superstars, much like hockey enforcers go after opposing scorers. It may not be great for you to lose your relief pitcher by throwing at a guy, but if you get lucky and elicit a reaction that causes your opponent to lose their superstar for a more meaningful period, hey, it’s worth a shot right? Far-fetched? Maybe. But the creation of a bad incentive is not excused simply because the likelihood of it being taken advantage of is low. It’s still dumb policy.

Harper and Strickland’s suspensions were scheduled to be effective tonight, when the clubs are to continue their series in San Francisco. Both players have elected to appeal, however, so they’ll both be available. So that’s probably a game worth tuning into.

 

We now have photographic proof that Tom Ricketts and Ted Cruz are different people

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A lot of people think they have a double walking around someplace on Earth. They may actually be right. We have an example of this in baseball and politics.

Cubs owner Tom Ricketts looks a lot like Texas senator Ted Cruz. Or, since Ricketts is older, I guess Cruz looks like Ricketts. Either way, they could play brothers if someone put on, like, the worst ever production of some play about brothers.

If you’re not familiar with one or both of those guys, take a gander at the photo that was taken of the two of them in Washington this morning as the Cubs made the rounds with their World Series trophy:

If they put those rings together, Tom can turn into any animal and Ted can turn into anything made out of water. True story.

 

Anthony Rizzo calls out Miguel Montero for calling out Jake Arreita

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The morning we posted about Miguel Montero calling out his pitcher, Jake Arrieta, for allowing the Nationals to steal seven bases last night. Our view, of course, was that (a) it wasn’t all Arrieta’s fault; and (b) even if it was, publicly calling out your teammates like that is probably not a great idea and certainly isn’t a good look.

When I saw Montero’s comments I assumed that they would not play well in the Cubs’ clubhouse. I was right about that. Anthony Rizzo appeared on ESPN 1000 in Chicago this morning and had this to say:

Referring to Willson Contreras, of course, who has allowed 31 stolen bases to opponents while behind the dish. Coincidentally, Montero has allowed 31 stolen bases when he has played as well. Contreras has played in 24 more games than Montero, by the way.

I predict that, by around 3pm when the clubhouses open, we’ll see a public apology by Montero.