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.

[mlbvideo id=”86661883″ width=”600″ height=”336″ /]

Jim Crane thought the heat over sign-stealing would blow over by spring training

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The Astros’ sign-stealing story broke in November, a steady drumbeat of coverage of it lasted through December and into January, when Rob Manfred’s report came out about it. The report was damning and, in its wake, Houston’s manager and general manger were both suspended and then fired.

After that a steady stream of media reports came out which not only made the whole affair seem even worse than Manfred’s report suggested, but which also suggested that, on some level, Major League Baseball had bungled it all and it was even worse than it had first seemed.

Rather than Manfred and the Astros putting this all behind them, the story grew. As it grew, both the Red Sox and Mets fired their managers and, in a few isolated media appearances, Astros’ players seemed ill-prepared for questions on it all. Once spring training began the Astros made even worse public appearances and, for the past week and change, each day has given us a new player or three angrily speaking out about how mad they are at the Astros and how poorly they’ve handled all of this.

Why have they handled it so poorly? As always, look to poor leadership:

Guess not.

In other news, Crane was — and I am not making this up — recently named the Houston Sports Executive of the Year. An award he has totally, totally earned, right?