Bounce the Bean-Ballers
Earlier this season, I wrote a piece about how in South Korea’s KBO if a pitcher hits a batter in the head with a pitch, he’s automatically ejected, regardless of intent. It’s a great idea because it takes away from the umpire an impossible decision about whether the pitcher had any intention to do it, and it tends to discourage something almost everybody would agree is a bad thing — a batter getting hit in the head with a pitched ball.
Discipline was handed down today for events after Stanton got hit, when the same pitcher Mike Fiers also hit the next batter Reed Johnson on the hand. If Fiers is out of the game for hitting Stanton in the face, none of that needless drama happens, and there’s less reason for Marlins pitcher Anthony Desclafani to be throwing at Brewers’ hitters later in the game (Desclafani was given a three-game suspension today for doing so).
I don’t think Fiers had any intent to hit Stanton — he threw a fastball that ran so much it kind of froze Stanton, and Fiers’ body language at the moment of impact suggested he hadn’t meant for it to happen. Still, that’s kind of beside the point. If Fiers is automatically ejected, that ends it right there, and there’s an immediate payback for the Marlins of a sort. If nothing else, it creates an immediate, but hardly unfair or extreme, consequence for a pitcher who throws up and in without enough command of his pitches. If the umpire makes a judgment call that the pitcher intended to hit the batter in the head, he could always be allowed to recommend to the league that the pitcher be hit with a further punishment.
Unfortunately, MLB is such a conservative institution that, at least until another batter is killed or permanently disabled by a pitched ball, no rule change will be made no matter how good the new rule may be. There’s an awful lot of “we’ve never done it that way, so it can’t be right” in the MLB mind-set. It’s a shame, because this proposed change is extremely minor but would prevent at least one or two ugly incidents every season.