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The Harper-Strickland fight was stupid. MLB doesn’t  have to be.

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On a visceral level, the Bryce HarperHunter Strickland fight was fun to watch because we don’t get a lot of actual fights in baseball anymore and we’ll take what we can get.

On an intellectual level, of course, it was all stupid. Every single part of it.

Hunter Strickland throwing at Harper because Harper hit a couple of homer off of him three seasons ago is about as weak as it gets. Indeed, the Giants actually won that series and went on to win the World Series that year, so the fact that Strickland was still holding a grudge over Harper’s bombs is not just weak, it’s inner-circle weak.

Harper, of course, is not blameless. He’s the victim of a dumb plunking and Strickland is owed far more condemnation in all of this in my view, but the mound charge/helmet throw was not wise. He’s mounting an MVP season here, and the Nats look like the best team in the National League. At the time he made his charge, the best case scenario was that his team would lose the services of its best player for a time. Worst case scenario is that Harper could’ve gotten hurt or gotten his teammates hurt. Would a busted hand on the MVP favorite have made anyone feel better, no matter how much Strickland deserved it? Luckily that didn’t come to pass.

Now Major League Baseball has a chance to be dumb. It can be dumb by doing what past precedent suggests it will do here in punishing Harper as much if not more than Strickland due to the charge/helmet toss. Pitchers throw at guys a lot. Given that most pitchers don’t throw every day and given that they almost always claim that the ball “just got away from them,” those suspensions often cause them, at worst to get five game suspensions which in reality has them only missing a couple of games. When batters throw things or charge the mound their intentions are clear and they tend to lose a lot more time. The baseline on those are 5-7 games. A few years back Carlos Quentin got eight games for charging Zack Greinke. Throwing the helmet could add time.

My hope in all of this is that Major League Baseball does not do something dumb. My hope is that they, for once, appreciate that intentionally throwing a 90+ mile per hour pitch at a batter and hitting him is worse than a batter wildly flinging a helmet at a pitcher at about, oh, 20 miles per hour and missing. My hope is that they appreciate that a pitcher holding a nearly three-year grudge over a baseball player hitting a home run is more immature and damaging to the game than a batter losing his cool for a moment when the pitcher tries to hurt him.

Strickland should be suspended a lot more than Harper is. If he isn’t, we’re just compounding the dumb.

It’s the tenth anniversary of the biggest rout in baseball history

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Ten years ago today the Rangers and the Orioles squared off at Camden Yards. The Orioles built a 3-0 lead after three innings and then all hell broke loose.

The Rangers scored thirty (30!) unanswered runs via a five-spot in the fourth, a nine-spot in the sixth, a ten-spot in the eighth and a six-spot in the ninth. That was . . . a lot of spots.

Two Rangers players — Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Ramon Vazquez — hit two homers and drove in seven runs a piece. The best part: they were the eighth and ninth hitters in the lineup. There was plenty of offense to go around, however as David Murphy went 5-for-7 and scored five times. Travis Metcalf hit a pinch-hit grand slam. Marlon Byrd drove in four. It was a bloodbath, with Texas rattling out 29 hits and walking eight times.

On the Orioles side of things, Daniel Cabrera took the loss, giving up six runs on nine hits in five innings. That’s not a terribly unusual line for a bad day at the office for a pitcher — someone will probably get beat up like that in the next week or so — but the Orioles’ relievers really added to the party. Brian Burres was the first victim, allowing eight runs on eight hits in only two-thirds of an inning. Rob Bell gave up seven in an inning and a third. Paul Shuey wore the rest of it, allowing nine runs on seven hits over the final two.

The best part of the insanely busy box score, however, was not from any of the Orioles pitchers or any of the Rangers hitters. Nope, it was from a Rangers relief pitcher named Wes Littleton. You probably don’t remember him, as he only pitched in 80 games and never appeared in the big leagues after 2008. But on this day — the day of the biggest blowout in baseball history — Wes Littleton notched a save. From Baseball-Reference.com:

Three innings and 43 pitches is a lot of work for a reliever and, per the rules, it’s a save, regardless of the margin when he entered the game. Still, this was not exactly a game that was ever in jeopardy.

When it went down, way back on August 22, 2007, it inspired me to write a post at my old, defunct independent baseball blog, Shysterball, arguing about how to change the save rule. Read it if you want, but know that (1) no one has ever paid attention to such proposals in baseball, even if such proposals are frequently offered; and (2) the hypothetical examples I use to illustrate the point involve an effective Joba Chamberlain and Joe Torre’s said use of him, which tells you just how long ago this really was.

Oh, one final bit: this massacre — the kind of game that the Orioles likely wanted to leave, go back home and go to sleep afterward — was only the first game of a doubleheader. Yep, they had to strap it on and play again, with the game starting at 9PM Eastern time. Baltimore lost that one too, 9-7, concluding what must have been one of the longest days any of the players involved had ever had at the office, both figuratively and literally.

Hall of Fame baseball announcer Rafael ‘Felo’ Ramirez dies

Associated Press
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MIAMI (AP) Rafael “Felo” Ramirez, a Hall of Fame baseball radio broadcaster who was the signature voice for millions of Spanish-speaking sports fans over three decades, has died. He was 94.

The Miami Marlins announced Ramirez’ death Tuesday.

Ramirez, who died Monday night, began his broadcasting career in Cuba in 1945 before calling 31 All-Star games and World Series in Spanish. He was the Marlins Spanish-language announcer since their inaugural season in 1993 and was inducted into baseball’s Hall of Fame in 2001.

He was known for an expressive, yet low-key style and his signature strike call of “Essstrike.”

Several Spanish-language broadcasters, including Amury Pi-Gonzanez of the Seattle Mariners and San Francisco Giants, have admitted to emulating his style.