It's unfortunate, but necessary, to constantly re-evaluate what you were into growing up.
Growing up a connoisseur of baseball video games, I loved it when batters charged the mound after being hit by a pitch. Whether it was Bases Loaded, Base Wars or MVP Baseball, I lived to see a brawl. This extends to real life as well. Right before the 2018 regular season started, this writer tweeted a video of a 1996 brawl involving the Mets and Cubs, remembering it fondly because he watched it with his father. Needless to say, watching people fight will always draw the attention of the masses.
Which brings us to last Wednesday in Denver and Boston.
In the afternoon, in response to a beanball to the ribs putting San Diego Padres outfielder Manny Margot on the disabled list, pitcher Luis Perdomo threw behind Colorado Rockies slugger Nolan Arenado. Perdomo then threw his glove at Arenado as he charged the mound, clearing the benches and leading to a scuffle.
Benches clear, punches thrown in Padres-Rockies game with Nolan Arenado and Luis Perdomo in the center of it. pic.twitter.com/6cItcDc8Td
— MLB (@MLB) April 11, 2018
Later that night about two thousand miles east, the Red Sox and Yankees cleared the benches after pitcher Joe Kelly hit Tyler Austin in response to allegedly keeping his spikes up sliding into second base earlier in the game.
Benches clear, punches thrown in Yankees-Red Sox after Tyler Austin is hit by a pitch from Joe Kelly. pic.twitter.com/wvqoak8QMV
— MLB (@MLB) April 12, 2018
It might have gotten fans fired up and led to a few funny memes, but the beanball wars are well past their expiration date. The nonsensical tit-for-tat in baseball brings out the worst that manhood has to offer and teaches children to resolve conflict through violence. But why think about that when you can display your faux toughness for the world to see? Why think about that when you can get these jokes off?
There's SB Nation posting "The 7 best moments from the Red Sox and Yankees' bench-clearing fight." There's USA Today's For The Win posting "Bench-clearing brawl in Rockies-Padres game showcases Nolan Arenado's fabulous hair."
Fights make for great content, but not for great lessons to teach to your kids. Hall of Famer and TV analyst Pedro Martinez said on Twitter that "We're babying the game way too much nowadays." Babies are more likely to take their ball and go home then throw the type of fits that baseball players throw over being pitched inside, bunting in the 9th inning of a one-hitter, flipping your bat during a home run, taking too long trotting around the bases after a home run or any other sort of things that bring life to one of the greatest sports in the world.
But there's no doubt that this display of #ToxicMasculinity will draw more eyes to baseball, just as the opportunity to wager on games has many states considering legalizing online gambling. There's no doubt that this will bring declarations of "THE RIVALRY IS BACK!" with the Red Sox and Yankees. (This will also bring the cries of how brawls in baseball and hockey are treated by the masses as opposed to basketball, but that's another story for another day.)
Ten years ago, I'd be excited about this. With age and wisdom, I know how ridiculous all of this really is. Rivalries are fine. A little sports betting for more fan incentive is fine. Trash talking is fine. And yes, fights will happen from time to time. But there's no need to celebrate them.
Writer. Reporter. New Yorker.