The Brewers, the Dodgers, and some old school baseball

The Dodgers are likely moving out of their brief post-All Star break slump.  The best indicators of it are threefold: things are breaking their way in games, even when they lose; they kicked Milwaukee’s butt last night, 17 to 4; and, last night, they made one of the Brewers so mad he had to follow the Dodgers back into their clubhouse after the game to try and find somebody to beat up.

Here’s the full story from today’s LA Times.  The Brewer in question–Prince Fielder–was so pissed off because Dodger reliever Guillermo Mota pegged him in the thigh with a pitch–in the ninth inning of this Dodger blowout–apparently in retaliation for the Brewer’s pitcher hitting Manny Ramirez in the seventh.

The part I love about the story most is that, yes, that is why Fielder was hit.

After the game, Russell Martin–who came to meet Fielder at the Dodger locker room door–said to the press, “”It’s protection. It’s just about keeping the team unified and pulling the wagons together.”

Now I don’t condone violence or retribution, outside of baseball, but in the game, well, let’s just say there are “rules” you can read in a book and there are “rules” you learn by doing.  And I believe in following rules.

Russell Martin is right, it is about protection and unification.  It is about being a team, and even being little, petty boys who are emotionally invested in being a team.  And it’s old school Dodger baseball, too.  Don Drysdale was a fan of the policy of retribution from the mound, as were generations of Dodgers before him and after.  Even more, it a good sign that the team is strong and healthy in the ways you can’t really measure, and can’t often control, but that you always need going into the final stretch.

This is going to be a fun ride!

5 thoughts on “The Brewers, the Dodgers, and some old school baseball

  1. Dodgers boooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo Get em Prince! Hide in the trees and fall from the sky. Go Giants!

  2. Putting aside our differing loyalties for a moment, I am not old-school
    enough, I guess, because I think the “rules” in baseball are stupid,
    men acting like boys comparing the sizes of their respective dicks. I
    side with the greatest manager of my lifetime, Earl Weaver, who
    always spoke against hitting batters with pitches. (He wasn’t just
    taking a moral stance, although there was that … he hated putting an opposing player on base.) Weaver also noted that you shouldn’t need
    help to get fired up … “I think there should be bad blood between all
    clubs.”

  3. When it comes down to it, baseball IS a bunch of men acting like boys. Weaver was a pragmatist. Sure. Tactically, it probably is a mistake in terms of the numbers of the game (although not here, with a 17-4 lead in the 9th). But Weaver also often spoke about the importance of pitching to winning. Drysdale was a hitman from the mound, but it was also about protecting the plate, a fundamental part of the game.

    But, as I said above, what gives me the most joy is that “it a good sign that the team is strong and healthy in the ways you can’t really measure.” I don’t think it’s about firing up the team, but about the team acting from an organic, collective, intuitive place. You can’t make or design those things, maybe you can nurture them, but they do happen and they are rare. I saw it in ’88. I see it emerging now.

    As always, thanks for the comments, Steven. Jackey, get off my lawn you damn kid!

  4. We’re talking about several things here … I’ll try to break them into separate parts.

    I’ve got nothing against men acting like boys … that describes 90% of my own life. But there’s a difference between the joy someone like Pablo Sandoval exudes, and the adolescent machismo of most baseball players.

    Weaver was a pragmatist, but he was also someone who got beaned when he was a player. He also treated baseball as a job … he would say he tried hard to win because if he didn’t win, he’d get fired … and he didn’t believe in taking away a hitter’s livelihood by hitting him in the head. Having said that, it’s true that Fielder wasn’t hit in the head or anywhere close.

    Everyone should have every chance to a positive working environment, which is why if I were a player on a team, I’d want to play on a team with a congenial clubhouse, one that could come together in a memorable way. But I don’t think it’s particularly important to the primary job of winning baseball games. There are many team sports … probably most of them … where teamwork is a necessity. I often bring up Chris Mullin, a great basketball player who was ignored by his teammates as a rookie, largely because he was a drunk. You can’t score if no one will pass you the ball. Contrast that to the Giants back when Barry and Kent were literally at each other’s throats in the dugout. It didn’t matter on the field … I mean, I appreciate that it didn’t make for a great working environment, but once they took the field, who cared? If the 2B and the LF didn’t get along, it wouldn’t change anything during the game, nor did it matter if the guy at the plate needed to bring home a guy on second base that he hated … the batter would still try to get the runs. Baseball is very individualistic for a team sport.

    Finally, Earl Weaver believed strongly in the need for pitchers to establish the inside of the plate. And I think it’s safe to say he had some pretty good pitching staffs in his day. But he saw a difference between pitching inside and throwing at a batter.

    I should also confess that I am prone to shouting out “TEAM FIGHT!” several times a game when I’m at the ballpark. I miss the good old days, too.

  5. Well, say what you want about the immaturity of it all, but when baseball was policed by the players there was a whole lot more respect for each other and the game. Being a douche bag at the plate is a lot more difficult when you knew someone like Nolan Ryan or Don Drysdale would plant one on your back for it. Playing with a little fear always tends to make players just a little more reserved. I’d like to see Terrell Owens talking smack before he faces Roger Clemens. Somehow I see him not being so rambuncious with 95mph cheese brushing up against his chest.

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