Baseball Toaster Bronx Banter
Child's Play
2008-03-12 14:41
by Cliff Corcoran
Note: The Bronx Banter blog has moved to

Well, the Yankees certainly had an eventful trip to St. Petersburg today. It all started a few hours before game time, when the team announced that Andy Pettitte would be skipping his scheduled start today due to some tightness on the outside of his pitching elbow which was also described as muscle irritation and by Pettitte as a bit of tendonitis (more below). Then, during batting practice, 64-year-old special adviser and former Yankee manager Stump Merrill took a thrown ball to the mouth and was taken to the hospital on a stretcher, awake and alert, but with his head immobilized and a trickle of blood running down his left cheek.

As if that wasn't enough, replacement starter Heath Phillips was rocked in the first inning and clearly rattled as evidenced by a rare balk. With two out, two on, and the Yanks already trailing 2-0, Phillips came up and in to seventh-place hitter Evan Longoria. The pitch brushed the Rays' third base prospect across the chest and, given the rising tensions between the two clubs ever since Yankee catching prospect Francisco Cervelli had his arm broken in a home plate collision in the ninth inning of their last meeting on Saturday, home plate umpire Chad Fairchild tossed Phillips from the game.

Shelley Duncan, who had issues some veiled threats to the Rays over the last three days, led off the top of the second with a single off Longoria's glove and attempted to stretch it into a double as the ball trickled away from the third baseman. Duncan was out by a lot and thus resorted to plan B, which, depending on who you believe, was either to kick the ball out of second baseman Akinori Iwamura's glove, or to use this opportunity to get even with the Rays by spiking the second baseman in the thigh. Regardless of his intent, the latter was what actually happened. Seeing this, hot-headed right fielder Johnny Gomes charged in from the outfield and body-checked Duncan from behind. The hit sent Duncan out toward shortstop and both Duncan and Gomes were immediately restrained as the benches cleared. Duncan and Gomes were subsequently ejected along with Yankee coaches Bobby Meacham and Kevin Long (though no word yet as to why those two also got the thumb).

The game proceeded without further incident from there and the post-game quotes, as one might have expected, saw the Rays and Yankees switch roles, with the Yankees defending Duncan as simply playing hard and aggressive baseball, and the Rays being appalled and offended. I've only seen snapshots of the play, but given Duncan's comments over the last few days, his at-times dangerous enthusiasm, and those incriminating photos (though this one is both less damning and a more accurate snap of the actual slide), I am willing to call this a much dirtier play than the one Elliot Johnson made on Cervelli on Saturday, though thankfully one with less dire consequences (Iwamura got a gash on his thigh, but stayed in the game). I just hope all this foolishness ends here, as the Yanks and Rays will meet again a week from Friday.

Update: Here's some (poor) video of Duncan's single.

As for the rest of the game . . .


S - Melky Cabrera (CF)
L - Robinson Cano (2B)
L - Bobby Abreu (RF)
R - Shelley Duncan (1B)
S - Jorge Posada (C)
L - Hideki Matusi (DH)
R - Morgan Ensberg (3B)
S - Wilson Betemit (SS)
L - Greg Porter (LF)

Pitchers: Heath Phillips, Scott Patterson, LaTroy Hawkins, Ross Ohlendorf, Sean Henn, Dan Giese, Jonathan Albaladejo

Subs: Jason Lane (1B), Bernie Castro (PR/2B), Alberto Gonzalez (SS), Cody Ransom (3B), Kyle Anson (C), Brett Gardner (PR/CF), Justin Christian (PR/LF), Nick Green (PR/DH). Betemit finished the game at first base. Porter finished the game in right field.

Opposition: The Devil Rays' starters except, unsurprisingly, catcher Dioner Navarro.

Big Hits: Doubles by Robinson Cano (2 for 3) and Jorge Posada (1 for 3). Cano was the only Yankee with a multi-hit game.

Who Pitched Well: Ross Ohlendorf rebounded from his rough outing in the inning in which Cervelli was injured to pitch a perfect fifth inning while striking out one, though his other two outs came in the air. Scott Patterson allowed his first baserunner of the spring on a double by the wounded Iwamura, but retired the other four men he faced, two via strikeout.

Who Didn't: Heath Phillips allowed two runs on a walk, a balk, and three hits (one a double by Carl Crawford) and recorded just two outs before grazing Evan Longoria with a pitch and being ejected. Jonathan Albaladejo's hopes of making the team took a mighty blow as he coughed up three runs on a walk and three hits, including doubles by minor league vets John Rodriguez and Jon Weber. Ditto Dan Giese, who allowed two runs on a solo homer by veteran minor league middle infielder Ronnie Merrill, a walk, and a single. To make matters worse for that two, Giese blew a 3-2 lead in the seventh and, after the Yankees rallied to reclaim the lead at 6-4 in the top of the eighth, Albaladejo blew it again and took the loss. By comparison, Sean Henn and LaTroy Hawkins's scoreless work looks good, but Hawkins allowed four baserunners (a walk, two singles and a double) in his two innings of work and didn't get a single out on the ground, and Henn allowed three baserunners (two singles and a walk) in his lone frame, though he also struck out the side.

Hot Wheels: The Yankees subs stole second base three times against Rays' backup catcher Josh Paul, once each by Brett Gardner, Bernie Castro, and Nick Green.

Nice Plays: In contrast, Jorge Posada threw out the only attempting Ray's runnner, nabbing Jason Bartlett at second with Hawkins on the mound.

Ouchies: Thankfully no injuries resulted from the Duncan incident, which is just as well, as the Yanks had enough to worry about before the game. Pettitte's elbow soreness is supposedly unrelated to any of his prior elbow problems. Skipping his start today was said to be purely precautionary. The Yankees said that Pettitte would have made the start had this been the regular season and is expected to take his next turn. Pettitte said the tightness went away after he warmed up and that he pleaded to pitch today. Still, it bears watching. Pete Abe has audio from Andy himself here. Tyler Kepner reports that Jason Giambi skipped the trip because of lower back pain, though that's also described as minor. No word yet on Merrill's condition.

Comments (79)
Show/Hide Comments 1-50
2008-03-12 16:29:36
1.   Sliced Bread
'Nuf said about Shelley as far as I'm concerned. Hopefully Ensberg gets some extra work over the next few days.

Good for 'Dorf. Anybody know if his air outs were scary fly balls or cans o' corn? Somehow I don't think the answer to that question will be on the backpages tomorrey.

2008-03-12 16:39:46
2.   kylepetterson
"Duncan ... resorted to plan B, which ... was ... to kick the ball out of second baseman Akinori Iwamura..."

Either way you look at it, his plan was essentially the same. Kick some balls. It's kind of like soccer only less boring. Seriously, though, rule 1 of any sport: Don't piss off the team with this guy on it:

Not the best play he could have made, but at least nobody broke any bones (no pun intended).

2008-03-12 16:42:23
3.   wsporter
Gardner swiped 2 bags today. 2nd and 3rd then scored. Singled in 2 runs. He's having a nice little Spring for himself.
2008-03-12 16:49:45
4.   rbj
I think it should read "to kick the ball*s* out of second baseman Akinori Iwamura's" . . .

This definitely looked purposeful, and over the line. Sit Shelley for a few days.

Still, sometimes you gotta cross the line and take the punishment, just so that other teams don't run right over you.

2008-03-12 16:49:50
5.   Sliced Bread
3 yeah, hopefully opening some eyes. Now that's a weapon I'm all for using against our rival gangs.
2008-03-12 17:14:37
6.   JL25and3
I am willing to call this a much dirtier play than the one Elliot Johnson made on Cervelli on Saturday

I haven't seen anyone suggest that Johnson's was an inherently dirty play, just that it was inappropriately aggressive for a spring training game.

2008-03-12 17:28:59
7.   Raf
4 Still, sometimes you gotta cross the line and take the punishment, just so that other teams don't run right over you.

Which teams are these?

2008-03-12 17:32:42
8.   williamnyy23
6 Actually, I think a shoulder block at home plate is an inherently dirty play, but it does have some level of acceptance in the game. I don't really blame Johnson for his over aggressive (and dirty) play, but do hold Maddon accountable. It's clear that he has been encouraging such "aggressiveness" in his camp. So, while Shelley was most likely "wrong" for using his slide to retaliate, Maddon's crime is greater in my book because his actions resulted in a serious injury.
2008-03-12 17:44:01
9.   Bruce Markusen
I, for one, am tired of seeing the Yankees allow themselves to be the punching bags of other American League teams. There has been too much reluctance on the part of Yankee pitchers, particularly guys like Mike Mussina, to "defend" teammates who have been hit by opposing pitchers. The one-sided HBP numbers of the Yankees-Red Sox' matchups over the last decade or so is evidence of that.

That's not to say that Duncan doesn't deserve a fine and perhaps even a short suspension for what he did today. But someone has to take on the role of "bad guy" to discourage other teams from treating the Yankees like pin cushions.

Somewhere Billy Martin is smiling today.

2008-03-12 17:45:42
10.   wsporter
The thing that bugs me is that the Rays have been pulling this kind of crap since the spring games started, and now when it comes back on them they bitch loud and clear. I'm not sure if that matters but it is bothering me.

5 I think he's putting himself at least at the head of the class for first outfielder called up. He would provide an interesting dimension.

2008-03-12 17:51:39
11.   Cliff Corcoran
Hey, there's a new video link in the post above.
2008-03-12 17:58:52
12.   Sliced Bread
Sorry, can't resist the cheesy song parody.
Paper Lace anybody? sing it with me now!

Shelley, don't be a hero
don't be a fool with your spikes
Shelley, don't be a hero,
all I can say is yee-ikes.
and as Shelley started to go
Zim said keep them dirty spikes lo-o-ow
Shelley don't be a hero
don't be dir-ty...


2008-03-12 18:07:46
13.   wsporter
12 Is that the Gefilte Joe & The Fish version?


2008-03-12 18:13:32
14.   Sliced Bread
13 they do weddings, Bar Mitzvahs, and, oddly enough, "Washed Up Comedians Making Their MLB Debut Parties." Too late to book them for tomorrow?
2008-03-12 18:31:56
15.   monkeypants
6 8 Ah, that's the beauty of the "dirty play"--such heinous acts usually transgress the "unwritten rules" which are nebulously determined by the community (ie, the players and coaches). Thus, crushing the catcher is not dirty, even though (as I still maintain) it is a clear violation of Rule 2.0 (Interference) and an implicit violation of Rule 6.08. Meanwhile, yelling 'ha' or stealing signs is considered dirty. Bunting on a pitcher throwing a no hitter is dirty, while putting your spikes into a fielders nads is not dirty, unless it is dirty. Meanwhile, throwing intentionally at a batter is not dirty (usually) even though it is illegal.

I love it.

2008-03-12 18:33:03
16.   Shaun P
14 You know, if that Washed Up Comedian Making His MLB Debut manages to make all the blibber-blubber about Duncan's slide go away - so we don't have to hear about it for days on end, like we did Johnson's slide - I'll say, thank you, Mr. Crystal.

A fan can dream.

2008-03-12 18:38:20
17.   Sliced Bread
16 Word.

I'm out, but I leave youse guys with this:

How many days might "Army Of One" be suspended? He'll most certainly be back fer the St. Paddy's Day donnybrook avec Boston, oui?

2008-03-12 18:57:16
18.   Raf
The one-sided HBP numbers of the Yankees-Red Sox' matchups over the last decade or so is evidence of that.

From baseball-reference, HBP's

2007: 9-9
2006: 7-6 BOS
2005: 10-6 NYY
2004: 18-15 NYY
2003: 11-7 NYY
2002: 14-5 NYY
2001: 9-6 NYY
2000: 9-2 NYY

Doesn't appear one sided to me.

2007 was the first time they didn't finish in first place since 1997. They have among the best records in the league.

They aren't pincushions. Far from it. If Jeter wants to stop getting hit, I'd suggest he stop diving over the plate. I also suggest he start turning on the inside fastball so that pitchers stop trying to pitch him there.

2008-03-12 19:09:16
19.   Mr OK Jazz TOKYO
Wait a minute, I know I am always a step beind being so far away but when did Stump Merril become a "special advisor"? And what is he advising about?? "back in my day, Alvaro Espinoza and Mike Pagliarulo really were a solid left-side of the infield.."

And he's only 64? I seem to remember him looking much older when he was skipper..

2008-03-12 19:12:28
20.   monkeypants
19 That goddamn rebel Mattingly and his hippie haircut aged poor Stump 20 years.
2008-03-12 20:13:53
21.   weeping for brunnhilde
20 Hippie haircut!

Ha ha hah!

2008-03-12 21:31:19
22.   Yu-Hsing Chen
I don't really like the play but i feel no one would even notice if this was a non-Yankee team that did it.
2008-03-12 22:33:46
23.   rilkefan
18 NoMaas claims the Yankees have led the AL in HBP over the last three years.
2008-03-13 03:17:44
24.   Bagel Boy
3 That's exactly what I was talking about in the other thread. I know Gardner doesn't have a real shot at making the team, but he should.

Spring stats:

BGarder: .313/.389/.500, 16 AB, 1 2B, 1 3B, 3 SB, 0 CS
Ensberg: .333/.429/.556, 18 AB, 4 2B

I'd rather the guy that gives a different skill set from the other bench warmers.

2008-03-13 06:53:45
25.   horace-clarke-era
From LoHud (to save you linking over):

Joe Girardi said yesterday that if he saw a replay that showed what Shelley Duncan did was dirty, he would have a meeting with him.
Girardi and Duncan met this morning.
Duncan said later he didn't want to talk about the meeting. Let's see, 2 + 2 …
"We talked," Duncan said. "Whenever you have private conversations with people you like to keep it between them."
Duncan said he saw the replay. "When you do something, it never looks the same as what you thought you did," he said. "So it didn't look the same as what I thought I did."
Asked whether he would do the same thing again, Duncan paused. "A lot of time situations don't repeat themselves."
So there you have it. The only question now is what sort of punishment MLB levies against the participants. Duncan and Jonny Gomes will likely be suspended.


Shelley should be in politics, a master of stating the obvious. I am glad Girardi APPEARS to have stepped up. I am (I admit) disappointed in the ongoing 'Jeter gets hit all the time' stuff (Jeter can be gotten out inside AND he leans over the plate.) and I blink when I read people dumping on Madden for making his team play (inappropriately?) hard in spring, and then demand the Yankees get meaner.

I am with JL again: there was nothing dirty by the practice OR the rules of baseball in the catcher bang-bang play. And as we discussed, Girardi could as easily have told HIS kid not to block the plate on close plays in spring.

I'm going to post this again, as people seem to read things and not absorb them (never let the facts get in the way of an opinion?):

"There is no language in the rulebook that is available to the public that prohibits a runner from using his hands to avoid a tag or any other reason. It is. however, outlined in the supplemental rulebook given to umpires in section 6.1. It reads: "While contact may occur between a fielder and runner during a tag attempt, a runner is not allowed to use his hands or arms to commit an obviously malicious or unsportsmanlike act--such as grabbing, tackling, intentionally slapping at the baseball, punching, kicking, flagrantly using his arms or forearms, etc. to commit an intentional act of interference unrelated to running the bases."

Notice the rule allows for contact. If Rodriguez lowered his shoulder and ran over Arroyo, this would have been perfectly legal."


NOTE: I am personally comfortable with a rule amendment to make home plate contact on the shoulder-ram level illegal, but it is not right now, AND it is steadily in use. And as to spring training no-nos ... obviously there IS no clear unwritten rule on this.

Shelley was way out of line. This was like a crunching hockey bodycheck followed by a two-hander to the head.

By the way (in reference to the idea that Alex could have flattened Arroyo legally): am I the only one old enough to remember bunts down the first base line - forcing the pitcher to field it - as a legal but vicious way of retaliating to a brushback pitch?

2008-03-13 06:54:04
26.   Raf
23 According to

2007: KC
2006: BAL
2005: TOR

Hit Batsmen
2007: BAL
2006: BOS
2005: BOS

NoMaas' claim is wrong.

2008-03-13 06:57:48
27.   Raf
25 am I the only one old enough to remember bunts down the first base line - forcing the pitcher to field it - as a legal but vicious way of retaliating to a brushback pitch?

I remember reading about it, but I've never seen it done. I do remember Rob Dibble fielding a bunt and throwing the ball at a baserunner.

Also remember Joey Cora's 2 drag bunts in the '95 ALDS, though they weren't in retaliation for anything...

2008-03-13 07:05:54
28.   williamnyy23
25 No matter how often you re-state the same opinion, it doesn't disqualify the other side of the equation. I, like Girardi, believe that even if MLB wants to allow NFL collisions at homeplate, there is no place for them in an exhibition game. There shouldn't have to be a rule about should be common sense.

Like the shoulder block at home, a spikes high slide at 2B is also a "part of the game". If Maddon thinks ST is the proper place to foster a feisty attitude, then he can't caomplain when his team is on the receiving end.

Should Duncan have slid hard into Aki? No. Should Johnson have crushed Cervelli's wrist? No. Either two wrongs don't make a right or both players were playing "good hard" baseball. You can't split the baby.

2008-03-13 07:21:03
29.   williamnyy23
18 87 to 56 looks very one-sided to me.

26 I am pretty sure No Mass meant that over the past three seasons the Yankees led in HBP...not in each of the last three seasons.

2008-03-13 07:24:36
30.   horace-clarke-era
William, Duncan didn't slide hard into Aki, he slid to injure having announced beforehand he was going after the Rays. That's why he had his talk with Girardi. You now taking the view Girardi's a wuss for taking his player down?

Fire da bum!

Me, I say he's (belatedly) recognizing he made a mistake with his own talk. To use a historical reference (from way before Three Finger Brown) "Will no one rid me of this meddlesome priest?" You're at least partly responsible for what follows when you have authority and talk that way.

Johnson's crushing Cervelli's wrist remains, as JL said, a legal, fair, hard, common-enough play. With a caveat that there MAY be some spring training concepts (like All-Star game concepts) that are problematic - but as I said, there really don't seem to be clear guidelines on this IN the game.

Hard slides into 2nd when the play is close are part of the game. When you are out by 5 steps following on vows of vengeance - that's dirty. You are sticking to this view without looking at the play. It had ZIP to do with 'good hard' baseball, it was a two-handed retaliatory stick swing after a check.

Nor am I just re-stating an opinion, I have now twice posted the umpires' rulebook. That isn't an opinion William, it is a citation.

I also said I would be wide open to amending the rules to prevent injury. And common sense makes it easy for Girardi to tell his catchers to let the run score. Cuts both ways.

2008-03-13 07:29:37
31.   williamnyy23
29 No Maas is correct. From 2005-2007, the Yankees lead the AL with 223 HBP, followed by the Royals at 216 and the Bluejays at 199. The Red Sox have been hit 177 times over the same span.

Interesting, the NL has 6 of the top-8 teams, which is a little odd considering how most people often say the best way to limit HBP in the AL is to make the pitcher bat.

2008-03-13 07:37:47
32.   rbj
7 I just meant in general. And whether it is true or not, the meme is out there that the Yankees won't retaliate. This instance is a bit beyond Joba's two throws over the head of the batter from last year, but sort of in the same zip code. (if that makes sense)

I just saw a good video of it on ESPN-HD, Duncan's foot was high going in, I don't mind a hard slide, but make it clean.

2008-03-13 07:39:15
33.   horace-clarke-era
31 That last IS interesting, william. Suggests to me that hbp is much more a function of pitcher-batter styles than gunning for someone. Batters like Ron Hunt were not being thrown at, they were standing very close. Put 2-3-4 players with the stand-close, lean-in style on a team and you'll get a lot of hbp. Or take a low-budget, try-out rookie flamethrowers ballclub, and they'll hit a lot of guys.
2008-03-13 07:40:31
34.   williamnyy23
30 Duncan's slide was in the baseline and through the bag. Did he use more force than he needed to? Probably, but it's still a legal play. If you don't agree, there is chapter and verse of similar slides throughout MLB history.

Similarly, Johnson's bone crushing collision at homeplate also employed excessive force. It's funny how Maddon encourages one, but abhors the other.

I definitely don't think Girardi is being a wuss. First off, we don't know what he said. He may have reprimanded Duncan for being too aggressive, but not for "protecting" his teammates in the first place. Who knows...he may have even patted him on the back. Or, he may have said just because the Rays play dirty in ST doesn't mean we have do.

To be honest, it doesn't really matter. What I definitely don't believe, however, is Girardi doesn't stand by his original comments (mostly because he has consistently reiterated them since). I also don't believe Girardi is offended by having a player go out of bounds if the intention is correct. In other words, Girardi hasn't been apologetic, and I like that.

By the way, I did look at the play. Duncan's slide is definitely hard, but I don't think it close to as violent as the pancake Johnson put on Cervelli. Again, you can't have it both ways. Either both plays aren't acceptable, or both of them are.

Finally, your citation is far from conclusive. The way I read the rule, a full body collision at any base is malicious and unsportsmanlike (for the life of me, I can imagine how anyone could lay such a hit on someone without expecting a serious injury).

I also think it's foolish to tell a player to not try to make a tag. That's instinct. NFL style collisions are not MLB fundamentals, so again, common sense would dictate that players not use them in the Spring.

2008-03-13 07:41:07
35.   horace-clarke-era
32 I just saw a good video of it on ESPN-HD, Duncan's foot was high going in, I don't mind a hard slide, but make it clean.

The real point is less 'high going in' than out by several long strides FOLLOWING declaration of intent.

2008-03-13 07:42:37
36.   williamnyy23
32 Joel Sherman had an interesting take. He said that Duncan always slides that way.
2008-03-13 07:48:27
37.   Sliced Bread
There are subtle and effective ways to send the message to the league that Yankee hitters will be protected, and on the other hand,there's Shelley's reckless method, which can only create further problems for him, and the team.

I trust Girardi knows which is the better way to go, and will lead that way going forward.

Those who cite the number of times Yankee hitters have been plunked have to acknowledge that several Yankee hitters hang over the plate, and make themselves easy targets. Not every Yankee HBP must be avenged, as I see it.

Also, unless a pitcher naturally has it in him, or has been trained to plunk batters, I think it is asking for trouble to ask them to retaliate.
I don't see what happened yesterday changing the way Yankee pitchers do their job -- even if that's what their manager wants.

2008-03-13 07:49:06
38.   williamnyy23
35 Why is intent relevant? All Duncan really said is if the Rays wanted to play with intensity (collision at home)then so too would he (hard slide into 2B). It's not like he brought a gun onto the field.

If this was a regular season game without a preamble, Duncan's slide would have raised eyebrows at best.

2008-03-13 07:50:28
39.   horace-clarke-era
34 Finally, your citation is far from conclusive. The way I read the rule, a full body collision at any base is malicious and unsportsmanlike

I gave that some thought and the answer seems obvious: no one in the game, umping, playing, managing THINKS that way, William. The article cited sums up the sport's take: "Notice the rule allows for contact. If Rodriguez lowered his shoulder and ran over Arroyo, this would have been perfectly legal."

You (and I) might campaign for a change, but at least be aware that you are doing that! And once you do that, you are back to a bodycheck and a two0-hander. Actually, thinking about it, is is much worse. Two-handers are instant, impulsive (vicious) retaliation. Shelley's is more 'we'll mess with them next game' and a dirty play. That's premeditation.

Finally, as real question: is there any credible source for the notion in 32 that the Yankees have been gutless? This feels much more to me like fan-fueled agit-prop. I do agree we've been a veteran team, wealthy and poised, as opposed to stir-the-water up kidlets on a low-budget squad, but I also remember a few bullpen incidents where we looked like hotheads on greenies.

One of the things we all like about this team (I think) is the new mix of young and old. But I prefer Robbie and Melky's attitude to Delmon Young's, by a lot (though I think Young may have a punishing season in Minny) and I think the vets are partly to do with that.

2008-03-13 07:51:01
40.   rbj
36 Hmm, interesting. I wonder if he does that to compensate for a lifetime .257 avg in the minors, i.e., trying to be a gritty Eckstein-y type player.

35 I don't mind so much trying to knock the ball loose type of play, which I've seen many times (though not applicable here).

2008-03-13 07:51:28
41.   horace-clarke-era
Gotta say it: there ain't no quit in william23!
2008-03-13 07:52:03
42.   williamnyy23
WW has an interesting quote from Yankee Captain Thurman Munson:

In the bottom of the 6th, Graig Nettles goes down swinging as the lead-off batter for the Yankees. Thurman Munson then singles to center. After a Reggie Jackson pop-up to second, Lou Piniella singles to center. On the hit, Munson rounds second and slides late, and hard, with his spikes high, into third - where George Brett was covering the bag.

Afterwards, Munson said "I slid late just to let him know I was there. If I'd have wanted to hit him, I would have hit him. My argument isn't with George Brett. The guy I want to get is McRae. He better stay away from me. I told him so. He's been trying to hurt people for eight years."

2008-03-13 07:52:47
43.   Knuckles
I did some analysis a while back (I think it looked at 2004-06 data) showing pitching staffs' ranks in terms of walks issued and batters hit- it's on a spreadsheet somewhere...For the most part, control is control. Teams that walked fewer guys usually hit fewer guys- with one pretty glaring exception: Boston. They were like 2nd highest in hit batters over a 3 year stretch, but around 28th in walks. (Tamps was #1 on both counts- wild all around). The difference for the Sox was so out of line w/ other teams that I even went back and took out Wakefield (the knuckleballer), then adjusted the remaining stats by roughly the number of innings Wake accounted for.

The numbers don't prove anything, but they certainly seemed to back up my hunch that a guy like Pedro would just drill someone when he got flustered, Schilling might bean someone for the hell of it, and/or that their guys were quicker to step up and "protect" a teammate.

2008-03-13 07:52:51
44.   horace-clarke-era
40 trying to be a gritty Eckstein-y type player.

The visual on that's pretty funny, you know.

2008-03-13 07:56:36
45.   Bama Yankee
29 I thought the same thing, william. I figured that I must be reading the stats incorrectly, because 50% more HBP's seem to prove Bruce's point back in 9 rather than refute it.
2008-03-13 08:00:13
46.   horace-clarke-era
43 Pedro and Schilling would skew numbers, yep. Try Bob Gibson or Don Drysdale! I have a friend who sees the Gibson/Drysdale years as the glory days of pitching. (This is a partial reply to william on Munson - and I REMEMBER that play and quote. Jeez!) When the mound OWNED the inside, and batters did not dig-in against certain guys (Pedro followed in that tradition, had a deserved rep as a head-hunter AND the game began to change by his day).

The 70s Yankees were famously mean. The 90s one were not. Images? Goose vs Mariano?

This could get us into a 'changing nature of the sport' discussion I guess, and all the way back to Tyrus Raymond Cobb. Remember Manny bailing and outraged over a high, very slightly inside fastball?

2008-03-13 08:00:37
47.   Sliced Bread
42 but what's the point of comparing what Munson did, as the captain of the club, 30 years ago, against a bonafide rival - to what a bit player like Shelley did during a meaningless exhibition against the lowly Rays? like comparing apples to fruitcake, no?
2008-03-13 08:01:22
48.   Raf
29 I may have worded that incorrectly, but more Sox players have been hit than Yankee players. The team cited was the "aggressor" as they had less players hit. Will take a second look at that list, to make sure I have everything correct.

As for NoMass, that is correct; cumulatively, the Yanks have led the past 3 seasons in HBP. Do you have a link to their study? I'd like to see the point that they're trying to make.

I had looked at the numbers for Giambi & ARod last night, and noted that they were being hit fairly consistently before they came to NY, though Rodriguez had a career high 21 HBP's in 2007.

Will try to put something together during my lunch hour...

2008-03-13 08:01:27
49.   williamnyy23
39 Yes...I've fully acknowledged that even though I'd like to see them outlawed, collisions at the plate are tolerated. My point is the rule cited doesn't permit collisions...the current interpretation does.

I'd also point out that spikes high slides are also an accepted part of the game. So, that brings me back to my original point. If you think one is ok, you can't call the other "criminal", regardless of intent. After all, if I shoot you in the head, but don't intend to hurt you, I am sure my motives wont be a consolation.

As for the Yankees being gutless, well, I don't agree with that. I do, however, feel as if the former manager fostered a climate wherein having your opponents like you was a little too important. Again, that's just my opinion…I have no smoking gun to back that up.

As for Melky/Cano versus Delmon Young, I don't see your point. DY's bad reputation stems from selfishness more than anything (and one bat tossing incident in the minors). Clearly, every player should be true to his own personality. I like that this Yankee team has a mix of different ones.

2008-03-13 08:03:23
50.   Sliced Bread
47 and Munson did it during the playoffs.
Show/Hide Comments 51-100
2008-03-13 08:07:09
51.   OldYanksFan
8 "Actually, I think a shoulder block at home plate is an inherently dirty play, but it does have some level of acceptance in the game."
If it's legal, can it also be dirty? I've never seen a runner called out for going 'too hard' into a catcher. Whether it's legal by rule or 'legal' by lack of enforcement of the rules, I think many of us agree that this kind of play needs to be eliminated from baseball. I mean even Testosterone-driven football has the 'Fair Catch'.

Lots of fan insanity over this play, especially from the Einstein's over at Lohud. While I believe Shelly's play was dirty, I think the idea of sending a message is not a bad one, for the Yankees. However, this was the wrong way to do it. Bulldoze a guy, take out his legs, or some other 'fair' hit... but spikes high is not good.

The idea of retailiation should be done in a way to 'end it', not have it escalate.

Shelly will be suspended and will have to serve his suspension during the regular season... so we take a hit as well.

34 "Duncan's slide was in the baseline and through the bag. Did he use more force than he needed to? Probably, but it's still a legal play."
I think you are missing the point. A good, hard slide is legal, and a good way to retailiate. The issue was Duncan's spikes were very high, attested to by a cut on the 2nd basemans's thigh, ABOVE the knee.

2008-03-13 08:09:07
52.   williamnyy23
47 The point is that Duncan's slide is "a part of the game", isn't "illegal" and has been employed by Yankee in the past.

So, if Maddon wants to claim that his team plays ST like the regular season, then why can't Duncan? Once you agree to Maddon's terms, yesterday wasn't a meaningless exhibition game. Sure, you are not bound by Maddon's terms, but he is. I am not trying to suggest that you are wrong for having your opinion, but I definitely feel Maddon was out of line with his labeling the play criminal.

2008-03-13 08:10:30
53.   OldYanksFan
49 William, there have been MANY nasty collisions at home plate over the years. We can argue over the interpretations of the rules, but obviously, if MLB wanted to eliminate this, they have had plenty of time, cause and opportunity.

It appears to me MLB must feel this play adds 'excitement' to the game.

2008-03-13 08:10:37
54.   williamnyy23
48 I compiled the numbers on my own...I rarely take a look at NoMaas.
2008-03-13 08:15:43
55.   williamnyy23
51 mean something can not be against the rules and still be maybe, I don't know, taking PEDs :)

I think you make an excellent point though. Whether you can plow into catchers or not (the fair catch analogy is very good), I think doing it in ST is dirty.

I realize that Duncan's spikes were high, but I don't think cuts above the knee are that uncommon for 2B. If this was May and there no backstory, Duncan wouldn't be ejected for making the same slide.

Of course, that doesn't make it a clean play, just as Johnson's hit on Cervelli wasn't.

2008-03-13 08:16:59
56.   Sliced Bread
43 good work, Knuckles. Thanks for that.

As far as Yankee pitchers go, I'm sticking with the last graph of 37 .

2008-03-13 08:23:30
57.   Bama Yankee
Regarding Jeter and the HBP's: I realize that he leans over the plate and that people try to get him out inside. The problem I have is that when pitchers try to move him off the plate and they end up hitting him, our pitchers usually just let it go.

I look at it this way, if someone comes inside to Jeter (using the best tactic to get him out) and end up hitting him in the process our pitchers should return the favor. I mean, if they are intentionally coming inside to get Jeter out and they hit him with no consequence, what's to keep them from continuing to do it? However, if their guys start getting hit in return (other guys lean over the plate too) maybe pitchers stop coming inside to Jeter as much. Who knows.

I'm with Bruce on this one, I would like to see our pitchers defend our batters a little more.

2008-03-13 08:24:49
58.   williamnyy23
By the way, either Duncan reads Bronx Banter or I should buy a lotter ticket :) - Comment 9

2008-03-13 08:25:08
59.   horace-clarke-era
51 55 ] I think william is misreading oyf's point, but maybe I'M the one misreading it.

"I think you are missing the point. A good, hard slide is legal, and a good way to retailiate. The issue was Duncan's spikes were very high, attested to by a cut on the 2nd basemans's thigh, ABOVE the knee. "

I think it is much more than this 51 , though this is all true. Start with this: what are we retaliating for? The accident of an injury on a legal play? The failure to observe (murky) unwritten spring training rules? (And if this is the argument, all managers should have their catchers yield the plate in spring.) We're sending a message that ... hard slides into home plate won't be tolerated by the New Yankees?

PLUS, there IS backstory, and it is kind of silly to say 'if there's no backstory' ... and part of the backstory is Shelley Duncan SPECIFICALLY declaring prior intent. That takes this right out of accidental injury or 'trough slides are part of the game on the basepaths'. Iwamura (a starter, lead-off hitter) misses any time this becomes flat-out ugly. And Shelley ain't graceful enough to carefully judge how deep and where to spike.

2008-03-13 08:28:58
60.   horace-clarke-era
59 alas, 'trough slides' is a pretty good description of Shelley on the basepaths!

No, I didn't mean it (meant 'tough'), but I LIKE it!

2008-03-13 08:29:34
61.   williamnyy23
57 I always liked the way Jim Kaat explained it. He often stated that the intent of a HBP was that important. Sometimes, retaliation was necessary to show the opposing pitcher that if he wasn't good enough to pitch inside with control, well, then maybe he shouldn't be doing it at all.

I don't think most pitchers hit Jeter on purpose, but they sure feel free to miss inside.

2008-03-13 08:36:56
62.   Sliced Bread
57 I agree with you and Bruce, and others to an extent, Bama. I'm actually down with (all for) "eye for an eye" shennanigans (when it counts!), but that hasn't been the Yanks m.o. for a long time -- and I wouldn't expect changes to be made overnight, even if Girardi issues a memo dictating a new policy.

a.) I'm not sure if the "art of plunking" can, or should be taught
b.) Other than Farnswacker, I don't see our veteran guys or the kids being raised to follow their footsteps as natural enforcers.
c.) if that's the way the Yanks want to go, these types of gun-slingers might have to be drafted, or acquired on the market.

2008-03-13 08:40:02
63.   williamnyy23
59 A lot of this discussion hinges on opinion, but I strongly feel that violent collisions at home plate in Spring Training ARE dirty. I think Joe Girardi feels the same way. Fine. That's our opinion. If someone else thinks ST is the proper place to put a hit on someone so violent it is capable of shattering his arm, so be it. What I don't want to hear, however, is that same person complain about a spikes high slide because there is tolerance for that play in the game as well.

As for Duncan's statements, again, he didn't say he was going to hurt a Rays player. He said he was also going to play ST with the same intensity that would prompt a player to smash into a catcher at home plate. In my opinion, Duncan's slide certainly fits into that mentality. Aki had the ball and was standing over the bag, so Duncan is with in his legal right to slide in feet first. Using your logic about not blocking the plate, Aki could have side stepped the bag. Instead, he remained in the path of the baseline.

2008-03-13 08:42:57
64.   Bama Yankee
61 Exactly. Although, some do hit him on purpose (i.e. Pedro in 2003)

63 Good point. Although Joba did fire a couple of "purpose" pitches to the backstop last year against Boston, so that's a start...

2008-03-13 08:43:42
65.   Bama Yankee
64 That reference to 63 should have been to Sliced's 62 ...
2008-03-13 08:46:18
66.   Raf
Given the recent state of Yankee pitching, they can't afford extra baserunners :)
2008-03-13 08:47:59
67.   horace-clarke-era
Eye for an eye. I'm curious ... do any of the advocates think that by drafting (!) or signing pitchers with brushback degrees, we'll stop anyone from trying to get Jeter with inside stuff, 12 years into his career? Or that he'll stop leaning to go to right field?

So we hit someone when he's hit on the elbow, and we get warned or tossed and ... DJ doesn't get thrown inside on any more? He hits .370?


Someone goes AFTER a batter, decks him, I can see action stations ... and Torre DID do that, many times. It may even be that Girardi's more mean, angry, and he'll do it more. But doesn't it start with figuring out what we're protecting? I'd say we defend against head-high intimidation on the mound or recklessness on the basepaths (high spikes!). Not going inside for an out, or to push someone back.

This is NOT to say we shouldn't be going inside ourselves against players who stake too big a claim to the outside of the plate by getting too close!

2008-03-13 08:55:09
68.   Sliced Bread
67 oh, I don't think the Yanks should draft or sign players like that, was just suggesting that's what the Yanks would have to do to get enforcer types, as they don't seem to be on the team.

and no, I don't think any of this will change Jeter's approach at the plate, or how he's pitched to.

2008-03-13 09:04:46
69.   horace-clarke-era
68 Got it, bread. I think Joba might well be willing to claim the inside, you know, and miss high 'accidentally' a few times. Effectively wild, y'know.

But I find this whole discussion needs to factor the change in the game. On the mound you LOSE your pitcher for retaliating today (batters make too much money?), for the game, to suspension. In the Gibson, even the Munson years, there would be jabbering, and back-and-forth brushbacks, and players carried on. The point bread makes in 47 goes even further ... comparisons are of different eras with different understandings of what was acceptable.

By the way, this, I think, is the point william and oyf may be making: that the game can easily change 'what is acceptable' regarding home plate collisions. Yes, it can.

2008-03-13 09:06:01
70.   Bama Yankee
67 I understand what you are saying, I am not saying that the retaliation will be guaranteed to work. All I am saying is that we should at least give it a try. Here's a few examples of times our pitchers just let a HBP go without any consequence:

Kazmir vs. Jeter 2007:

Benson vs. Jeter 2005

Zambrano vs. Jeter 2004

Pedro vs. Jeter 2003

The last one was the worst, Moose just let Pedro plunk Jeter without consequence.

As for warnings and ejections, the way it should work is that our retaliation should get the benches warned and then if the other team hits one of our guys later in the game, then they get tossed. I admit that sometimes our pitchers have actually been tossed without a prior warning being issued (sometimes without even making contact with the batter: Randy and Joba). So my plan could result in our pitcher getting tossed, but it should not work that way.

2008-03-13 09:12:50
71.   williamnyy23
I don't think you can analyze this issue with tangibles. If the Yankees get more guys willing to retaliate, it may or may not mean fewer Yankees will get hit. The more relevant impact would be what, if any, impact would it have on the psyche of the team. The Red Sox always point to Varitek hiding behind his mask as a big rallying cry, so maybe having a gung-ho attitude is the right style for certain teams?
2008-03-13 09:23:39
72.   williamnyy23
Also, for those so sure Girardi took Duncan to task, consider Duncan's quotes from this afternoon's AP article. It doesn't seem as if Duncan was having many second thoughts:

"I saw it a couple times," Duncan said Thursday. "I still don't understand why they were as upset as they were."

"It doesn't bother me. They won't change how I play the game. I'll continue to play the game as hard as I can. What matters to me the most is the respect of my coaching staff and my teammates."

"I go out there and I try to play the game the right way," Duncan said. "I told him what I was doing, how the play went through my eyes."

2008-03-13 09:33:20
73.   standuptriple
You know what I'd really like to see come out of this, an increased attention to the art/science/footwork/placement of the catching position. A mandate (in Spring) could be made that a call from, say the 3B, that a throw home could result in a close play, allowing the catcher to cut off the throw and leave the plate. That would be an acceptable solution, no? Also, I learned when I was 13 the (for lack of a name) Pivot-and-stick-your-left-leg-out, while applying the tag, sending the runner to a violent encounter with the dirt. I think that there are a lot of sloppy defensive catchers out there and I would welcome an opportunity to see the finer defensive points of the position emphasized.
2008-03-13 09:38:24
74.   Raf
I don't think you can analyze this issue with tangibles.

You most certainly can. Everything can be explained, you have to know where to look. Baseball is a very tidy game in that regard.

The Sox can point the Varitek hiding behind his mask, the Yanks could've pointed to Jeter diving into the stands.

I would say that the Nomar trade had a bigger impact than the Varitek-ARod brouhaha.

2008-03-13 09:41:03
75.   Raf
70 It shouldn't work that way, but it does. Anyone remember Phelps-Johjima last year?
2008-03-13 09:42:00
76.   williamnyy23
From Buster Olney;s blog:

On the other hand, you can understand why the Yankees would be upset that one of their players was needlessly injured in an exhibition game, in a clear violation of spring-training etiquette. Duncan answered, and Yankees manager Joe Girardi seemed on board with the action, and from what I hear, some veteran Yankees were impressed that he was willing to go to the wall for a minor league player -- and got a sense of how much he has their backs.

2008-03-13 09:49:02
77.   williamnyy23
74 One could argue that removal of Nomar from the clubhouse was an intangible move. As much as we would like it to be everything can't be quantified.
2008-03-13 10:10:20
78.   Bama Yankee
75 The Phelps-Johjima incident is not an example of what I'm advocating. Phelps ran over Johjima unnecessarily and paid the price (HBP the next time he came up to bat). That is the way it should work and that should have been the end of it. Proctor's "retaliation" was not warranted and therefore got him tossed (and suspended). My point is that our pitchers should handle things the way Seattle's Washburn did. This example actually goes to my point in 70 . Proctor got ejected for retaliating against the retaliation. So, under my plan, if Jeter gets hit and we retaliate, the benches are warned, then the other team retaliates... their guy gets tossed.
2008-03-13 11:43:09
79.   Raf
77 Of course it does, you just have to know where to look.

You can compare the team's records before and after the trade or fight, you can compare defensive performances/metrics before and after the trade or fight, etc.

I'd be skeptical of someone telling me the reason the 2004 Red Sox did what they did was because of a fight 3 months prior.

78 And what about carryover from games prior? If the umpires know there's a situation brewing, they're going to warn teams from the outset. That's probably why Phillips was tossed. Was there a warning issued after that? Or maybe before?

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