The Royals and White Sox had a benches-clearing fracas, five players ejected

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The Royals are involved in yet more drama. Last Sunday, the Royals and Athletics had a benches-clearing argument as a beanball war ensued following Brett Lawrie’s ill-advised slide into Alcides Escobar, causing a minor injury on April 17. Yordano Ventura started on the 18th against the Athletics and exacted revenge on behalf of Escobar, throwing a fastball at Lawrie after he had given up five runs to the Athletics in the fourth inning.

Ventura and the Royals were at it again Thursday night, this time against the White Sox. The Royals entered the game having been hit by pitches 16 times, second-most in baseball behind the Rangers, five ahead of the Red Sox and Pirates in a tie for third place.

In the bottom of the fourth inning, White Sox first baseman Jose Abreu was hit by a 99 MPH Ventura fastball, the sixth pitch in a 2-2 count with no outs. In the top of the fifth, with two outs and the bases empty and an 0-2 count, Chris Sale hit Mike Moustakas with an 86 MPH change-up, the fourth pitch of the at-bat. If Sale were trying to get retribution, it seems odd he’d pick a change-up in an 0-2 count as his opportunity to do so.

Ventura, finishing out the seventh inning, got Adam Eaton to tap into a 1-3 putout. It was a sharp comebacker, but easily handled by Ventura. Rather than simply toss the ball to first base and jog off in silence, Ventura took the opportunity to bark at Eaton, then tossed the ball to first base for the final out of the frame. Eaton was not happy with Ventura’s choice of words. Both benches and bullpens quickly cleared. There was some yelling and shoving for a while. Lorenzo Cain began yelling at Jeff Samardzija, so Samardzija closed in but he was tackled. Someone took a swing at him, but it thankfully did not connect. The blobs of blue and black continued pushing and shoving but the situation was ultimately defused after several minutes.

Five players were ejected: Ventura (obviously), Edinson Volquez, Cain, Sale, and Samardzija. There are certainly going to be fines and suspensions handed down after this one.

Here’s what major leaguer Brett Anderson had to say about Ventura’s behavior:

And here’s an interesting bit of trivia:

Update: Getcha popcorn ready. Here’s video.

Astros defend barring reporter from clubhouse

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As we wrote about this morning, last night the Houston Astros, at the request of Justin Verlander, barred Detroit Free Press reporter Anthony Fenech from the clubhouse during Verlander’s media availability following the Tigers-Astros game. After Verlander was done talking to the press in the scrum setting — and after a call was placed to Major League Baseball about the matter — Fenech was allowed in.

As we noted, this was done in violation of agreements to which Major League Baseball, the Houston Astros and the Baseball Writers Association of America are parties. The agreements are meant to ensure full access to BBWAA-accredited reporters as long as they have not violated the terms of their credentials.  In no case do the clubs — and certainly not the players — have the right to bar access to BBWAA-accredited reporters. Indeed, the whole point of the BBWAA is to ensure such access and to ensure that teams cannot bar them simply because they are unhappy with their coverage or what have you.

This morning Verlander tweeted, obliquely, about “unethical behavior” on the part of Fenech that led to his request to the Astros to bar him. As we noted at the time, such an allegation — however interesting it might be — is of no consequence to the admission or barring of a reporter. If Fenech has acted unethically it’s a matter between him and his employer and, potentially, between him and the BBWAA. At the very least, if Verlander has a specific concern, it would be incumbent upon him or the Astros to take the matter up with either the Free Press or the BBWAA.

In light of all of this, it’s hard to make a case for Verlander’s request and the Astros’ honoring it. A few moments ago, however, the Astros released as statement on the matter which, basically, says, “so what?”

Which is to say, the Astros have made a decades-long agreement between the BBWAA and MLB regarding reporter access optional, because a player does not like a reporter who is covering him.  Someone without the power to alter the BBWAA-MLB relationship has just done so unilaterally. And they have done so in such a way that any player, should they decide they don’t like a reporter, will now presumably rely on as precedent. And, it should be noted, in doing so they gave at least some tacit credence to Verlander’s thus far unsubstantiated and unspecified allegations of unethical behavior on the part of Fenech.

It’s your move, Major League Baseball and BBWAA. Whatcha gonna do about it?