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Raging Mad at HBPs

There's not surefire policy for teams to follow when one of their stars gets drilled by an inside pitch. Last fall in the NLCS, the Dodgers backed away when Manny Ramirez was drilled by the Phillies. When Ramirez was hit by Brewers reliever Chris Smith on Tuesday night, L.A. wasn't about to sit idly by. In the ninth inning, Dodgers reliever Guillermo Mota drilled Brewers first baseman Prince Fielder with an inside pitch that was only ever headed one place: Fielder's thigh. Mota was immediately ejected, and Fielder (at least in the moment) appeared to be little more than slightly bemused.

Evidently that changed dramatically after the game. According to reports from the L.A. Times and other sources, Fielder charged the tunnel to the Dodgers' locker room after Los Angeles' 17-4 rout of Milwaukee. He never made it to the actual locker room (or, thankfully, to Mota), but he had to be held back by multiple teammates and security guards to keep him from it.

There was little doubt that Fielder was plunked in retaliation, and if there ever was any doubt, it was dispelled by catcher Russell Martin, who admitted his team had thrown at Fielder after the win.

"It's protection," Martin said. "It's just about keeping the team unified and pulling the wagons together."

That the Dodgers threw at Milwaukee after Ramirez was hit isn't a shock, but Fielder's postgame reaction is surprising, or even shocking. Retaliatory plunkings are a part of baseball, albeit it a contentious and dangerous part.

All of this is to set up a question: Who's really at fault here? Mota, for throwing at Fielder? Dodgers Manager Torre, for keeping his starters in a game that was clearly out of control? Fielder for overreacting?

You decide.

By Cameron Smith  |  August 5, 2009; 12:43 PM ET
Categories:  Brewers , Dodgers  | Tags: Brewers, Dodgers, Manny Ramirez, Prince Fielder  
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Intentional HBP - which is *slightly* different than chin music - shouldn't have a place in baseball. It's unsophisticated, brute force ... as stupid as fighting in ice hockey. Retaliate by hitting balls over outfield walls, not by throwing pitches at hitters.

Posted by: chrisduckworth | August 5, 2009 2:07 PM | Report abuse

I think ultimately the issue is that Mota plunked Fielder in the ninth inning of a 17-4 whuppin'. Seems classless, even for a game of beanball.

Not that it excuses Fielder for turning into a raging bull following the game. Who knew vegetarians were so angry?

Posted by: CJ Holley | August 5, 2009 2:35 PM | Report abuse

It's part of the game. Everybody knows that when a star player gets hit, the other team is likely going to come after your best hitter, even if it was an accident. The thought is "If it was an accident, your guy should be more careful with our best hitter at the plate. If it wasn't an accident, here is retaliation". Either way, a guy on the other side is getting hit.

Fielder should have been expecting it and he should be thankful it was thrown at his thigh and not someplace else. The Brewers manager ought to sit Fielder tonight as punishment for acting like a complete jackass. Trying to fight the pitcher in his own locker room after the game is inexcusable behavior.

Mota certainly isn't at fault. If anything, Mota did what he had to do. If he didn't hit Fielder in that spot, his own teammates would have accused him of not backing them up.

Fielder just showed his true colors. He is a punk.

Posted by: PhilliesPhan | August 5, 2009 4:48 PM | Report abuse

I agree with CJ. With 2 down in the 9th and a 13 run lead is not the time to be plunking people. It needed to be done either in the 8th, right after Manny got hit, or the next time they played.

On the other hand, watching Fielder by the locker room reminds me of the guy who keeps waiting for his friends to "hold him back" when he's pretending to want to fight. He wasn't trying incredibly hard to get in the room. If he'd have wanted he could have knocked that security guy aside and opened the door.

Posted by: adampschroeder | August 6, 2009 4:34 PM | Report abuse

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