Craig Calcaterra

Blogger at NBC Sport.com's HardballTalk. Recovering litigator. Rake. Scoundrel. Notorious Man-About-Town.
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Josh Donaldson calls out baseball’s beanball culture

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There is a culture in baseball which dictates that, at various times, it’s appropriate to throw a ball at a high rate of speed at someone’s body as some sort of punishment or as a show of dominance. Sure, players and managers always deny that a specific pitch was aimed at a batter intentionally so they won’t get in trouble for it, but everyone acknowledges that, in general, pitches are thrown at guys on purpose for any number of slights, real or perceived.

Toronto Blue Jays third baseman Josh Donaldson was thrown at twice yesterday. Given some chirping back and forth between Donaldson and the Twins bench during the series and given Donaldson staring at the Twins bench after an earlier home run, it was almost certainly intentional. It likewise seemed intentional given that the man throwing the pitches — Phil Hughes — has excellent control and the ball was unlikely to “slip” on him the way pitchers often claim such pitches slip. In this case even the umps didn’t buy it, tossing Donaldson’s manager out of the game for coming out and arguing that, hey, maybe it’s not cool for Phil Hughes to be throwing at a guy.

What can’t be denied is that Donaldson has had it with baseball’s unwritten rules regarding purpose pitches, plunkings and beanballs aimed at policing player deportment. Here he is venting after yesterday’s game:

“Major League Baseball has to do something about this. They say they’re trying to protect players. They make a rule that says you can’t slide hard into second base. They make a rule to protect the catchers on slides into home. But when you throw a ball at somebody, nothing’s done about it. My manager comes out to ask what’s going on and he gets ejected for it. That’s what happens.

“I just don’t get the point. I don’t get what baseball’s trying to prove. If I’m a young kid watching these games, why would I want to play baseball? Why? If I do something well or if somebody doesn’t like something that I do, it’s, ‘Oh, well, I’m gonna throw at you now.’ It doesn’t make sense. It just doesn’t make sense to me.”

Donaldson is right on the money. Defenders of beanball culture always say “that’s just how baseball is,” and cite the codes and traditions of the game, often glamorizing violence as they do it. While we deal with a literal crisis in brain injuries in other sports, people still romanticize Bob Gibson or Don Drysdale planting one in someone’e ear. While we talk about how awful it is that a player, say, breaks his hand while making a diving catch, we talk about throwing pitches that could easily break someone’s hand as if it were some necessary and immutable part of the game. While we talk about the importance of playing the game the right way and keeping one’s emotions in check on the field, we validate and make excuses for what are essentially temper tantrums in the form of fastballs to someone’s ribs, backside or behind their back.

It doesn’t have to be that way. It doesn’t have to be that way because keeping it that way is going to get people hurt, just as players have always been hurt by errant pitches. But it also doesn’t have to be that way because baseball players are adults who should be able to handle their business without the need to resort to petty and misguided revenge.

Pirates’ Vogelsong hit in head by pitch, leaves game

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PITTSBURGH (AP) Pirates pitcher Ryan Vogelsong was hit in the head by a pitch in the second inning and left the game against the Rockies.

A pitch by Colorado starter Jordan Lyles struck Vogelsong, who was taken off the field on a cart and attended to by Pirates’ staff.

Vogelsong (1-1) was making his second start of the season, filling in because of a rainout between the Pirates and Rockies on Sunday.

The play scored the first run of the game for the Pirates. Lyles had loaded the bases by walking Sean Rodriguez

Jeff Locke pinch ran for Vogelsong and Wilfredo Boscan replaced him on the mound.

Vogelsong allowed two hits and struck out two on 34 pitches.

Wanna Buy Coco Crisp’s 17,900-square-foot estate?

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We’ve featured a lot of ballplayer real estate here in the past. Usually they’re McMansions. There are some exceptions to that. Babe Ruth’s apartment was not exactly a faux-Tudor exurban monstrosity. Barry Zito’s pad was quite a bit different than the usual gated golf community in which these guys tend to live. So was Barry Zito’s other house.

Oakland Athletics outfielder Coco Crisp‘s pad is likewise an exception.

Less a house than a gigantic compound/playground, it’s in Rancho Mirage, California in the Coachella Valley. It’s about 17,900-square-feet, has five-bedrooms, an elevator, a game room, a home theater with a popcorn machine, a built-in saltwater fish tank and a gym and a miniature baseball diamond for kids. It has “a swimming pool with a built-in dining table,” which seems impractical, but what do I know? A description of it at WSJ.com is here. Here is the full MLS listing at Realtor.com, with lots of pictures. One of the bedrooms has a baseball-themed bedspread. It looks like a kids room but it’s nicer than most bank executives’ master suites.

The Crisps are asking $9.995 million for it after purchasing it for $7 million a couple of years ago. The reason? Coco Crisp and his wife just want to. They’re keeping their offseason home in the same area. They just want a new pad. Good for them. When you’ve made roughly $60 million in career earnings and have another $11 million due this year, you can do that sort of thing too.