Baseball has a long history, dating back into the 1800s. The basic rules of the game were created then, and simply changed as the players and the game itself has changed. One of the older rules in the game is the Hit by Pitch or HBP. In 1887, it was decided that if a player gets hit, they are awarded first base. Seems fair enough, as long as the player was not hit in the head. At that point, seems like someone is going to the hospital.
It does not hurt a batter, from a statistical standing, to get hit by a pitch. In fact, it helps their On Base Percentage. Most of you know about the HBP, have probably have seen some guys get hit, and cringe after seeing it. I’m not here to talk about the history of the rule; I’m here to talk about current major league players and how they are dealing with getting hit.
Craig Biggio got hit, a modern era record, 285 times and never once complained. In fact, here’s a video of him taking one off the noggin, getting up and trotting to first base.
Prince Fielder got hit the other night during a game in which his team lost 17 – 4.
He got pretty upset about it too. He charged towards the Dodgers clubhouse only to be stopped by security, Ryan Braun and the rest of the Brewers roster.
He is just one of a growing number of players upset about getting hit.
David Ortiz and Kevin Youkilis have gone through the media to tell Joba Chamberlain not to throw at them. The Rays and Red Sox have a history of bad blood through beanings, but Ortiz and Youkilis don’t seem to care if the Rays hit them. Search on Youtube “Rays vs Red Sox Brawl” if you don’t know what I’m talking about. Dustin Pedroia was pretty irate on Thursday night when a 96 MPH fastball from Mark Melanchon of the Yankees hit him on the shoulder.
Mark Teixeira got upset when Vicente Padilla hit him this year when the Rangers faced the Yankees. Of course, this stemmed from Teixeira taking him deep twice the first time he faced him in his career. When they were teammates in Texas, Padilla would plunk the other teams best player so Teixeira would get beaned.
Current players are getting increasingly upset about being hit by pitches. The HBP has been part of the game since it started. Either intentionally or accidentally, players have been getting hit since the inception of the game. It has been used a tactic for pitchers since the hitter was no longer allowed to call where the ball was pitched.
Bob Gibson made a reputation for himself for throwing up and in on guys who would dig in when they faced him. He hit over 100 batters in his career. No one ever complained then. Randy Johnson and Roger Clemens had reputations as “headhunters” and as pitchers willing to hit batters to send a message. No one complained about them.
Hitters today only think about themselves and how they can make a buck. They do not want to get hit because it could hurt them and diminish their stats. That is a valid point. They are not the only stars on the field though. They have to understand that pitchers are just doing their job and don’t want to keep giving up extra base hits or mammoth home runs. The pitchers are trying to “get theirs” as well. Even if that means plunking a guy in the back, leg or shoulder. The hitters need to just deal with it. As long as pitchers don’t throw at a guys head, then intentionally hitting a guy is O.K. in my book. It’s part of the game’s history. Only 1 person has ever died from being hit by a baseball, and that was in 1920 when they didn’t have hard baseball helmets. So, Prince Fielder, David Ortiz, Kevin Youkils, Dustin Pedroia, and Mark Teixeira, suck it up. You don’t want to get hit: get out of baseball.
Baseball is a chess match, and whoever can win the psychological game has more of a chance to win the physical game. Ozzie Guillen knows this. Which is why he does send out pitchers from his bullpen to plunk guys. Don’t expect it to be DJ Carrasco, though, he doesn’t throw hard enough.