So, we're roughly an hour removed from the end of tonight's game, but I still can't get tonight's Prince Fielder HBP out of my head.
There's a point to which I can understand what happened and the motivation behind it. If the Braves don't like the way Fielder reacted to his home run tonight, that's their prerogative. Fielder has a violent swing and it led to a giant followthrough on his home run. I'm not bothered by it, but I can see how they would be.
With that said, even if you accept the premise that Fielder had committed some form of offense against the Braves, and even if you accept the premise that a retaliatory plunk was warranted, there are three things here I have a problem with:
- The location. I realize Jonny Venters wasn't throwing full speed when his first pitch went over Prince Fielder's head. And I don't care. That 84 mph pitch could still do very serious damage if it had made contact. And the pitch that hit Fielder in the back was a 94 mph fastball. When you're throwing that hard above the waist, you're not retaliating anymore. You're headhunting.
- The timing. This is the second straight day Fielder has been hit. Last night it happened immediately after a Braun home run, and tonight it happened the next time Fielder came to the plate after hitting one. And, as mentioned above, Venters missed Fielder with his first pitch before hitting him with the second.
- The reaction. Bobby Cox coming out to argue the ejection was one of the more classless things I've seen a manager do in some time. Venters was ejected for hitting a batter with a pitch immediately after being warned for throwing over a batter's head. The rules clearly state you can't do that. Venters did it anyway. If you're going to do that, you have to be prepared to accept the consequences.