ESPN and the rest of the mainstream sports media have been discussing beanballs non-stop. They make it seem like every pitcher in baseball is hurling the ball at their opponent's heads at least twice an inning. The other night Ian Kinsler took one in the noggin and the guy on SportsCenter doing the highlights remarked: "We've seen a lot of this lately."
Why a HBP made the highlight reel is beyond me. There were no ejections, no fights, not even any words between Kinsler and Sox pitcher Fernando Cabrera. ESPN didn't mention how awful Cabrera was pitching either.
Nobody wants to see batters get hit in the head, except Joba Chamberlain. It's amazing how often he gets a free pass considering how many times he's blatantly gone very up and very in. But he usually gets out of trouble with light punishment.
But apart from the clearly intentional stuff, I think the combination of crappy pitching league wide, along with hitters REFUSING to bail out on pitches is why you see more HBPs. And HBPs induce more HBPs, as pitchers feel the need to "retaliate."
But most retaliation is not necessary. Why does a great hitter like Kevin Youkilis get hit? Because he's on top of the plate. And kudos to him for going out on his own to speak his mind. AL pitchers get lamented for not having to go up to the plate themselves and face the music, but how many AL and NL hitters hide behind their pitchers' arms to protect them?
Here's a problem with baseball today: pitchers aren't taught HOW to throw inside. You can throw up and in without aiming for the head. Throwing inside should be a tool in the pitcher's arsenal, not a means of retaliation. And throw at backs, thighs, and butts. You avoid joints and the head. You can throw over a guy's noggin to put the fear of God in him, but that's it.
I had absolutely no problem with Youkilis charging the mound. I had no problem with him being suspended for 5 games. The League office should consider the situations when dispensing punishments both for beaning and charging the mound. Had Youkilis charged the mound after a less blatantly intentional beanball, then Youk's suspension should be higher.
When Gerald Williams charged Pedro Martinez a few years ago, Williams should have had the book thrown at him. Williams only got 5 games for that, even though Pedro's beanball was certainly less clearly intentional than Porcello's.
Or maybe they should just allow one-on-one fighting like in the NHL.