Arbiters of modern baseball etiquette had a a field day Sunday afternoon in Detroit, whether they were dissecting Erick Aybar attempting to break up Justin Verlander’s no-hit bid with an 8th inning leadoff bunt, or a elbow to Verlander’s chest by Aybar during a subsequent botched rundown. The most memorable sequence from the Tigers’ 3-2 victory, however, saw Angels starter Jered Weaver throw over the head of the hosts’ Alex Avila following one of the more, uh, protracted home run trots in recent memory by Carlos Guillen. Though Weaver was immediately ejected, SB Nation’s Mat Gleason, who might’ve misplaced a prescription in the last few days, argues, “This power over life and death keeps the game and the players in line. The fact that a man can throw the ball at your head or the head of your teammate is the reason why you do not showboat.” (link swiped from Baseball Think Factory)
The necessary evil of arbitrary police enforcement is the best antidote to anarchy that society has arrived at. And the looming threat of an inside pitch is the only thing maintaining the focus on playing baseball first and foremost. Without the high heat, players like Carlos Guillen could put on clown makeup as they approached the batter’s box, blow Bryce Harper kisses to the man on the mound and ruin your afternoon with amateurish dancing on the base paths.
Jered Weaver probably cost himself the Cy Young award on Sunday. But he established a certain authority that only comes with the terror of using force. And without his ultimatum, you may as well buy a ticket to the circus, because that is what baseball would be without headhunting.
Gleason cites the 1920 death of Ray Chapman as a catalyst for Carl Mays’ 27 wins the following season, so I’m not sure I entirely follow the logic that Weaver is no longer a Cy Young candidate. If he’s made it widely known opposing hitters dare not dig in, let alone celebrate massive home runs against him, surely the fear factor’s in his favor? Either way, it’s good to know there’s a journalist out there who considers blowing kisses justifiable provocation for an act that might result in maiming or death. That doesn’t sound anarchic at all!