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:
Orioles manager Buck Showalter is not expected to retain his position with the club beyond the 2018 season, according to multiple reports from Jon Heyman of Fancred and Bob Nightengale of USA Today Sports. Nothing appears to be finalized just yet, however, and the Orioles have yet to address rumors of Showalter’s impending departure or news of a possible contract extension for general manager Dan Duquette.
Even so, it’s been a year of near-unprecedented disaster for the 62-year-old skipper, who helped lead the team to a 44-108 record prior to the outcome of Friday’s series opener against the Yankees. With the Orioles’ 108th loss — a 4-6 heartbreaker against the Blue Jays on Tuesday — they tied the 1937 St. Louis Browns for the second-most losses in a single season, eclipsed only by the 43-111 record of the 1939 Browns. As they have just 10 games remaining in the regular season, this year’s team has no chance of climbing out of last place in the AL East and may well finish with the worst record in the AL to boot.
While the Orioles’ missteps don’t bode well for Showalter’s future in Baltimore, he’s brought far more good than harm to the organization over the last eight and a half years. He assumed the managerial position from interim manager Juan Samuel in the middle of the team’s 2010 season and guided the club to five winning seasons and three postseason appearances in 2012, 2014, and 2016. Entering the 2018 season, his record sits at 666 wins and 677 losses, the winningest mark by any of the team’s skippers since Earl Weaver wrapped his 17-season run with the team in 1986. Whether the Orioles believe Showalter is capable of recovering from two consecutive losing seasons and returning the team to their former days of glory (and the occasional division title) remains to be seen, of course, though there’s plenty to recommend him as they prepare to advance a full-scale rebuild over the offseason.