Late in yesterday's series finale against the Nationals, Carlos Gomez once again found himself in a bit of a dispute with an opposing player, this time because of a hard slide. The Brewers were well-off with a seven-run lead in the bottom of the eighth inning when Washington pitcher Taylor Hill hit Carlos Gomez with a pitch. There was nothing intentional or malicious about it. Just a high and tight breaking ball that was a bit too high and tight.
Just a short bit later, Lyle Overbay hit a grounder to Nationals shortstop Ian Desmond, who pitched the ball to second baseman to start a double play. Gomez, running hard from first, made a hard attempt to break up said double play.
Desmond took issue with Gomez's slide:
In the end, I can understand where both players are coming from. Gomez probably shouldn't be critiqued for playing hard. I think that's a ridiculous double-standard in sports. You should be playing hard and running out every play of every game except when you have a subjective comfortable lead? When all these guys are pro athletes? Seven-run innings are not that uncommon in baseball. I don't think a player should be half-assing a play at any point in the game unless you're also OK with them not running out a groundball, too. But not running out a grounder in the second inning gets some guys a seat on the bench for a game.
At the same time, I don't fault Desmond for being a bit angry. In the heat of a moment, when you're upset your team is losing so badly, you don't want to also see one of your teammates hurt. Gomez's slide was a bit hard, though not ludicrous. Health is obviously important, and I have no issues with someone watching their teammates' back.
So, I don't think what Gomez did was wrong. I also don't think Desmond was that far out of line to express his displeasure, though I do think he could have done it in a better way.
Here's what Desmond had to say after the game:
"I just told him I didn't agree with the way he slid into second base with a seven-run lead," Desmond said. "I've defended that guy in a lot of clubhouse arguments. I respect the way he plays the game, but I've got no respect for that. If he thinks he got drilled on purpose by our pitcher making his Major League debut ... to take it out on a guy who's grinded his butt off to make a Major League career in Kevin Frandsen ... In a World Series game, you slide like that. In a seven-run-differential game, there's no time for that. ... I've got no respect if you can defend that."
Now, I don't know what Gomez was thinking, of course. But I doubt he slid hard into second because he thought he was hit by a pitch on purpose. He certainly didn't act upset after he was hit, and Gomez doesn't exactly hold his emotion back when he's upset about something. So I doubt that was the reason for any hard slide. Rather, I think Gomez just doesn't really have an off switch. He either goes hard, or he's researching how to talk like a rich person. Those are his only modes.
For Gomez's part, it seemed like he did a fine job. Keeping his cool during the discussion. After the game, he joked around saying Desmond was just complimenting his shoes.
It is getting a small bit troubling to see Gomez involved in another altercation, albeit a brief one. This is becoming a bit of a habit for him. Again, he's an energetic player who can get a bit emotional. Whether that's a reason for him getting into it with McCann and the Pirates and Desmond, who knows. I don't think we can reliably place the amount of blame on anyone in these cases. (Except the McCann thing. That was McCann being a dick)
Regardless, it's good to see that cooler heads prevailed in this case. I think both players were within their rights, and thankfully it didn't come to anything more than a few words.