Johnny Bench wants to see more “chin music” in baseball

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Hall of Fame catcher Johnny Bench was a guest on Rich Eisen’s DirecTV show on Monday to discuss the recent controversy surrounding Nationals superstar Bryce Harper. Harper recently called baseball “a tired sport because you can’t express yourself,” which includes celebratory bat flips.

Bench is fine with players flipping their bats, but wishes that pitchers could still throw high and tight the way they used to when he played, from 1967-83. Randy Miller recapped Bench’s guest appearance on Eisen’s show in a column for NJ Advance Media.

“You can flip your bat. We had guys do that … and the next time up there was chin music. And if you want to play that way, that’s fine.

“Bring back the excitement? OK, we’ll bring back the brushback pitch, the knockdown pitch. That’s all part of the excitement.”

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“I know a lot of the old-timers and a lot of people who watched baseball forever would love to see somebody have a little chin music (as retaliation),” Bench said. “If you want to do that, fine. Flip the bat, run around any way you want, but just expect the next time you come up to the plate, you better watching how much you dig into that batter’s box.”

This is particularly poor timing on Bench’s part, as Brewers outfielder Rymer Liriano suffered multiple facial fractures on Sunday when he was hit in the face by a Matt West pitch.

Major League Baseball has made some headway in making the game safer for players, most notably reinforcing rules against the takeout slide. Chase Utley broke Ruben Tejada‘s leg during the playoffs last year with a takeout slide. Famous collisions resulting in serious injuries for Buster Posey and Alex Avila have been — so far — made a thing of the past with new rules protecting catchers.

Bench was a guest on the Dan Patrick Show in October 2014 and expressed concern about concussions so it seems, in this light, he holds competing viewpoints. One can say he wants “chin music” — making the batter fear being hit without actually hitting him — but it must come with the acceptance that batters will, in fact, be hit. Pitchers aren’t perfect, they will miss their spots or have a poor grip on the ball and it’ll get away. To call for more “chin music” is to call for more batters getting hit in the head. That’s barbaric and it’s not good for the game.

Blue Jays clinch playoff berth with Orioles’ loss to Red Sox

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TORONTO — The Blue Jays clinched a postseason berth Thursday without taking the field.

Toronto was assured of an AL wild card berth when the Boston Red Sox beat the Baltimore Orioles 5-3.

If Toronto holds its current position as the first of the AL’s three wild cards, the Blue Jays would open a best-of-three wild-card series at Rogers Centre next week.

“These guys are excited to be in this position,” Blue Jays manager John Schneider said after Wednesday’s 8-3 loss to the New York Yankees. “You’ve got three really good pitchers lined up against a good Boston team, playing at home. So I think it’s more excitement more than it’s nerves or anything. I think the guys are going to come out and be ready to roll on Friday night.”

Toronto became the fourth AL team to clinch a playoff berth, joining division champions Houston, the Yankees and Cleveland. The Astros and Yankees have first-round byes.

The Blue Jays last went to the playoffs in 2020, when they were knocked out with two straight losses to Tampa Bay.

Eight of the 12 berths in the expanded postseason have been clinched: The Los Angeles Dodgers and St. Louis earned division titles, and Atlanta and the New York Mets are assured no worse the wild cards while still competing to win the NL East. The Dodgers have a first-round bye.