Baseball brawls ain’t what they used to be

55 Comments

If we learned anything today it was that relief pitcher is more likely to get hurt falling off a curb than he is in a benches clearing brawl. The former by virtue of the Jerry Blevins news, the latter due to this Brian Costa and Geoff Foster article in the Wall Street Journal about the lack of drama in the modern baseball fight.

They count up the number of “fights” since the beginning of last season and the actual number of punches thrown. Note: not a big number. There’s a funny line in there about the hats thrown too.

But the best part is about the bullpens who, as tradition dictates, empty out on the field as if they’re coming out to kick some butt in defense of their teammates. In reality, it’s not so dramatic:

When there is a single, shared stairwell through which pitchers exit the bullpens, pitchers from both teams merge politely into one line. “You’re running out of the bullpen with the guys you’re supposed to be angry with, and you’re all kind of filing through single file,” O’Day said, “and then you get out to the middle of the field and you’re acting tough.”

This fierce band of brothers will go to any length to defend a teammate’s honor, as long as they don’t trip and fall. O’Day recalled running down the bullpen stairs at Angel Stadium during one incident in 2008 and hearing another pitcher yell out, “Be careful on the steps!”

It’s like the “morning Sam,” “morning Ralph” coyote-sheepdog cartoons from back in the day. Except everyone is friendly with each other before AND after they punch in for the day.