Pirates have an anger problem

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Tuesday night’s benches-clearing brawl between the Pirates and Reds was not the first time this year that the two clubs had a disagreement. In April, the Pirates didn’t like that Derek Dietrich admired his home run, so Chris Archer threw behind Dietrich the next time he came to the plate. The benches emptied, leading to one of the best baseball pictures ever taken:

The two incidents are actually part of a longer trend for the Pirates in which their thirst for revenge has escalated into benches-clearing incidents. Here’s a likely incomplete list of benches-clearing incidents involving the Pirates dating back to 2015. Each date links to a post we wrote about the incident so you can read the whole story.

August 2, 2015

September 25, 2016

June 14, 2017

May 30, 2018

June 26, 2018

April 7, 2019

June 10, 2019

July 30, 2019

I searched the posts we’ve made here since the start of the 2015 regular season, using the phrases “benches clear,” “benches empty,” and “tempers flare,” which are common phrases used for such incidents. With the usual disclaimer that this is very likely an incomplete list based on an incomplete methodology, I was able to find 45 benches-clearing incidents over the last five years. The Pirates were involved in nine of them — 20 percent. The Rangers have been involved in eight such incidents, followed by the Cubs and Giants at 7, and the Royals at six. If you set the cutoff arbitrarily to May 30, 2018, the Pirates have been involved in five of 14 incidents (~36 percent).

Here’s my data set, sorted from most recent to oldest, for those of you who are curious:

Date Home Away Note
July 30, 2019 Reds Pirates
July 28, 2019 Athletics Rangers
June 29, 2019 Reds Cubs
June 25, 2019 Cubs Braves
June 10, 2019 Braves Pirates
April 27, 2019 Pirates Reds
April 17, 2019 White Sox Royals
October 17, 2018 Dodgers Brewers NLCS Game 4
September 9, 2018 Brewers Giants
August 15, 2018 Braves Marlins
August 15, 2018 Dodgers Giants
June 26, 2018 Mets Pirates
June 2, 2018 Angels Rangers
May 30, 2018 Pirates Cubs
May 19, 2018 Reds Cubs
April 29, 2018 Royals White Sox
April 11, 2018 Red Sox Yankees Benches emptied twice
April 11, 2018 Rockies Padres
April 8, 2018 Cardinals Diamondbacks
August 24, 2017 Tigers Yankees
June 14, 2017 Pirates Rockies
May 29, 2017 Giants Nationals
May 17, 2017 Giants Dodgers
May 1, 2017 Astros Rangers
April 22, 2017 Twins Tigers
September 26, 2016 Blue Jays Yankees
September 25, 2016 Pirates Nationals
September 15, 2016 Braves Marlins
August 3, 2016 Yankees Mets
July 7, 2016 Cubs Braves
May 15, 2016 Rangers Blue Jays
April 21, 2016 Diamondbacks Giants
October 9, 2015 Blue Jays Rangers
October 7, 2015 Pirates Cubs NL Wild Card Game
August 25, 2015 Yankees Astros
August 2, 2015 Reds Pirates
August 2, 2015 Blue Jays Royals
July 31, 2015 Rangers Giants
July 22, 2015 Padres Giants
July 19, 2015 Astros Rangers
June 3, 2015 Marlins Cubs
May 9, 2015 Rays Rangers
April 23, 2015 White Sox Royals
April 19, 2015 Royals Athletics
April 12, 2015 Angels Royals

Speaking to the media, including The Athletic’s C. Trent Rosecrans, Reds manager David Bell said of the Pirates’ revenge-seeking ways, “It’s a shame that is allowed, and they’re able to get away with it. They celebrate it. They support. They clearly allow it. I don’t know if they teach, but they allow it. It’s dangerous.” Asked if his comment included Pirates skipper Clint Hurdle, Bell said, “He’s the manager. That has been going on all year. It’s bigger than baseball at this point. People you care about, their health is put jeopardy and nothing is done about it. We suffer for it.

Pointing out the Pirates’ frequent involvement is not to excuse the behavior of any of their opponents, including Amir Garrett. Garrett, who took responsibility for his actions after Tuesday’s game, should be fined and suspended by Major League Baseball, as should Kela, Hughes, and Puig at minimum. Though other players may be guilty of their own immoral actions, the Pirates have a clear history of instigating and exacerbating conflicts with other teams. It’s worth keeping an eye on going forward, holding Hurdle and his players responsible.

Anthony Volpe, 21, wins Yankees’ starting shortstop job

Dave Nelson-USA TODAY Sp

TAMPA, Fla. — Anthony Volpe grew up watching Derek Jeter star at shortstop for the New York Yankees.

Now, the 21-year-old is getting the chance to be the Yankees’ opening day shortstop against the San Francisco Giants.

The team announced after a 6-2 win over Toronto in spring training that Volpe had won the spot. New York manager Aaron Boone called the kid into his office to deliver the news.

“My heart was beating pretty hard,” said Volpe, rated one of baseball’s best prospects. “Incredible. I’m just so excited. It’s hard for me to even put into words.”

Yankees general manager Brian Cashman, hitting coach Dillon Lawson and bench coach Carlos Mendoza were also present.

Volpe was able to share the news with his parents and other family members near the Yankees’ dugout and said it is something he will never forget.

“It was pretty emotional,” Volpe said. “It was just an unbelievable moment to share with them.”

Volpe, who grew up a Yankees fan, lived in Manhattan as a child before moving to New Jersey. Jeter was his favorite player.

“It’s very surreal,” Volpe said. “I’ve only ever been to games at Yankee Stadium and for the most part only watched him play there.”

Volpe is hitting .314 with three homers, five RBIs and a .417 on-base percentage in 17 Grapefruit League games. He has just 22 games of experience at Triple-A.

Spring training started with Volpe, Oswald Peraza and holdover Isiah Kiner-Falefa competing for the everyday shortstop job. Kiner-Falefa was shifted into a utility role midway through camp, and Peraza was optioned to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre on Sunday evening.

“While certainly the performance was there, he killed it between the lines,” Boone said of Volpe. “All the other things that we’ve been hearing about showed up. There’s an energy he plays the game with, and an instinct that he has that is evident. He really checked every box that we could have had for him. Absolutely kicked the door in and earned his opportunity.”

Volpe arrived in Florida in December to work out at the Yankees’ minor league complex.

“He’s earned the right to take that spot, and we’re excited for him and excited for us,” Cashman said. “He just dominated all sides of the ball during February and March, and that bodes well obviously for him as we move forward.”

Volpe was selected out of high school with the 30th overall pick in the 2019 draft from Delbarton School in New Jersey. He passed up a college commitment to Vanderbilt to sign with the Yankees.

“It was a once-in-a-lifetime chance to get into the organization,” Volpe said. “This day, this feeling, this moment was kind of what I’ve worked my whole life for when I made that big decision.”

“Right now it’s crazy,” he added. “I don’t even know what lies ahead but Thursday I just want to go out and play, and have fun.”