Pirates have an anger problem

Andy Lyons/Getty Images

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.