Unnecessary Roughness Leads to Unnecessary Suspensions

Marisa ScolamieroAnalyst IAugust 15, 2009

Fighting is something that tends to occur in professional sports for a variety of reasons. In the heat of competition, athletes emotions tend to run high, and sometimes they say something offensive or literally push an opponent too far. 

This can result in bench clearing brawls, ejections, and suspensions. Players can end up injured, suspended, and/or fined; something no team wants to have to deal with. 

It really makes you stop and think if getting in someone's face is really worth it? 

On Tuesday night, the Boston Red Sox were facing the Detroit Tigers at Fenway Park. New Jersey native, Rick Porcello was pitching for Detroit. The Tigers had already staked him to a 3-0 lead by the second inning, so the rookie's back wasn't up against the wall. 

Detroit first baseman Miguel Cabrera had been drilled in the hand in the first inning, and then Porcello threw up and in to Jacoby Ellsbury. 

In the next inning, Porcello hit Youkilis in the back with a pitch, which prompted Youkilis to charge the mound. He didn't just charge at the pitcher, yelling and screaming, he took off his batting helmet and threw it right in Porcello's direction. 

Porcello kept trying to back away from Youkilis, but it was obvious that Youkilis was intent on getting him. He chased Porcello between first and second and wrapped him up, to which Porcello responded by slamming him to the ground. 

The benches and bullpens cleared, both Porcello and Youkilis were ejected as were managers Terry Francona and Jim Leyland. 

The following day, Major League Baseball issued disciplinary action and suspended both Youkilis and Porcello for five games. In addition, Porcello was fined for intentionally throwing at Youkilis. 

While there is no way to get inside Rick Porcello's head and figure out if he actually meant to throw at Youkalis, a few things should be considered. 

Porcello is a rookie pitcher, therefore his control is not what a veteran pitcher's is. When a pitcher like Pedro Martinez or Roger Clemens would hit a guy in the back, there was no doubt that the ball didn't simply slip out of their hands. Porcello isn't anywhere near being an established pitcher, and it is highly unlikely that he was purposely trying to bean one of the Red Sox's best hitters. 

Another factor that has to be considered is that the Tigers were ahead 3-0 when Porcello drilled Youkilis. I find it hard to believe that with a three-run lead, a rookie pitcher is going to intentionally hit a batter and just put him on base. Had the Tigers been losing, and Porcello hit him, it could be argued that by hitting him he was taking the bat out of his hands, due to the fact that Youkilis is on of Boston's best hitters. 

Just for a moment, let's say that Porcello felt that he had to protect his teammate Miguel Cabrera who had been hit earlier in the game. Perhaps he was just trying to throw up and in to Youkalis to brush him back off the plate, like many players would expect him to do. 

Obviously, he more than brushed him off the plate, but that doesn't mean he intentionally threw at him, and the fact that Major League Baseball fined him for that is most definitely excessive. 

The most important fact in this whole situation is that the actions of both Porcello and Youkilis have cost them a five game suspension. Youkilis is a position player so he has to miss five games, but considering Porcello only pitches once every five days, the suspension isn't as severe for him. Still, their teams have to play without them because they couldn't keep their cool. 

I understand protecting yourself and your teammates, but too often fights break out and players get suspended for no real reason. I have never been hit by a 95 m.p.h. fastball, but I would imagine that it is quite painful. Still, I can't see what purpose it serves to charge the mound?

Derek Jeter is known for the way he leans out over the plate, which is why he gets hit by pitches so often. While there are many times he gets hit unintentionally, there are likely other times when he gets hit on purpose. 

However, at no time whether Jeter believes he was thrown at or not, does he ever charge the mound and start a fight. That is because Jeter realizes that it is more important for him to take first base instead of starting a fight that could lead to him getting hurt worse or suspended. 

It is a given that in high intensity situations emotions are going to run high, but this most recent brawl between Rick Porcello and Kevin Youkilis serves as a reminder that fist fighting really doesn't solve anything. 

Had Youkilis simply taken first base, the Red Sox wouldn't be without one of their best players, and the Tigers wouldn't be without one of their pitchers. It just goes to show, that it takes a lot more restraint to walk down to first base than it does to start a brawl.


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