I know I casually mentioned it in a post recapping the Brewers’ win earlier this week, but it bears repeating: The Milwaukee Brewers have been hit by 29 pitches. To put it in perspective in terms of the National League, you have to add up all the HBP numbers for the Cubs and Diamondbacks to equal the number of plunkings the Brew Crew suffered this year.
Look – I’m not so naive as to think that all 29 pitches were unintentional, nor do I believe that the pitchers who delivered them were purely unjustified. I know there’s a back and forth that goes on during a baseball season, and getting after guys at the plate is one way to gain a mental edge. It’s part of all those ‘unwritten rules’ that baseball players infrequently acknowledge and baseball writers expound on endlessly. So, it must stand to reason that these pitchers are using the HBP to get back at Milwaukee somehow – perhaps retaliating against Milwaukee-inspired beanings?
Well, I looked it up, and here’s the thing: there’s almost no way that’s the case. This year Milwaukee has only hit 10 batters, and last year the Crew only managed to get in on 33 in the course of a whole season – the fewest in both leagues for that season. So if this retaliation for hitting someone, it really must have been someone special like a player’s wife or a sick puppy or something, because it seems like a disproportionate escalation.
One of the latest ambulatory cases in this situation was Aramis Ramirez, who was scratched on Saturday from the lineup due to injury caused in the great Bean Ball War. He had a rather diplomatic stance about it, however, when asked in a post-game interview on Saturday:
“You don’t want to hit people, and you don’t want to hurt people, but at the same time, you have to protect your players…It’s one thing to pitch in and another thing to pitch at people. ”
-Aramis Ramirez, via Brewers.com
I have to hand it to him, that’s a lot more cordial than I’d be about this situation. He went on to say he doesn’t understand how Braun gets hit as often as he does this year (five times, forth most in the Majors, by the way) because both Braun and Ramy stand “far away from the plate”. He did, however draw a line in the sand:
“You can hurt people. Look at Weeks, he missed three games when he got hurt when he was hit by a pitch [in a game against the Cubs earlier this month]. I’m missing today. At some point, that’s got to stop.”
-Aramis Ramirez, via
Now, as I said before I am a reasonably mature adult, so I can certainly understand his perspective and
the other ‘traditional’ side of the argument. That’s why I love what Ron Roenicke said later in the post-game interviews. Roenicke has been fairly outspoken about the bucking the ‘rules’ during his tenure as Brewers skipper for the last two years. He also plays a very convincing babe in the woods when it comes to sticky situations such as this. He started out by saying that retaliation is never on his mind during game strategy, because “… in the long run, that never comes out good.” I have to say I agree with him. But then, in his own Roenicke-esque way, he achieved what might be the ultimate example of managerial passive-aggressiveness:
“Pitching inside is definitely something we can do better as a staff. I think we have command enough that we can do that. It’s interesting that we haven’t hit that many guys. I think we pitch inside more this year than we did last year. Maybe we just have that good of command that we don’t hit people. I don’t know.”
-Ron Roenicke, via
So he didn’t say much either way, but couldn’t you just imagine him giving a big winky face at the end of that?
It very well may be on, ladies and gentlemen. Do I expect that the Brewers will turn this season into Plunkfest 2012? Probably not. Do I expect the Brewers pitchers to not let such grievances to go unnoticed? Absolutely not. I have no idea why the Brewers are getting hit so much (I suspect the Illuminati are involved), but I do know that they can’t just turn the other cheek every time. Because that other cheek will get hit with a fastball.
It’s a touchy situation, to be sure, but maybe some of that antagonizing attitude is what’s missing in Milwaukee this season. The Crew have been getting bullied quite a bit this year. Maybe it’s about time they push back.