So, I waited a couple of days to address the incidents over the weekend between the Oakland Athletics and the Kansas City Royals. In fact, I wasn’t even going to talk about it because obviously I am biased in this situation. How could I not be?
At the same time I watched each game of that series and I do have my own take on what happened. I’ve also seen the media’s takes. Each side – blogs, beat writers, everyone who’s a fan or affiliated with each franchise – sided with their own team. That makes sense but things got tense all over the internet.
One Kansas City Radio Station gave out the email of Alex Hall, a writer on Athletics Nation, and encouraged their listeners to send hate mail. Seriously? A bit extreme wouldn’t you say?
It turns out 610 Sports radio in Kansas City blasted out my email address on the air and encouraged people to send hate mail. Bush League.
— Alex Hall (@AlexHallAN) April 20, 2015
This wasn’t the only incident of course but it’s a good example because Hall took it in stride, like Brett Lawrie took the hit from Yordano Ventura during Saturdays’ game. It caused the benches to clear for the second time in the series but Lawrie calmly took his base.
— Brodie Brazil (@brodiebrazilCSN) April 19, 2015
What really made me decide to write on this subject was a headline I just read written in the Tech Times that said, “Oakland Athletics Wage War Against Kansas City Royals.” And there have been more headlines blaming the A’s for this entire weekend. The A’s did not “wage war,” it was more the other way around.
Plus, if that’s true and it’s all the A’s fault, then why were no members of the Athletics even ejected? Let alone fined and/or suspended? Hmmm …. I think that puts the blame on the Royals and I hate to say it but their fans as well. Their fans have been terrible and relentless online and at the stadium with their continual booing of Lawrie.
But let’s just take a quick look at what happened (although I’m sure you all already know):
Friday: Lawrie makes a late slide into second causing shortstop Alcides Escobar a mild knee sprain. Benches clear.
Friday night: Lawrie gets Escobar’s number (which turned out to be an old number) from Escobar’s teammate Eric Hosmer and texts him a very genuine apology.
Saturday: Ventura hits Lawrie in retaliation. The benches clear, words were exchanged but Lawrie remains calm and takes his base. Ventura is ejected. The ball actually hit Lawrie in the elbow but this is what Gameday had to say about the pitch,
Gameday says that was a 99 mph heater that hit Lawrie in the side. — Susan Slusser (@susanslusser) April 19, 2015
Sunday: Scott Kazmir hits Lorenzo Cain accidentally (you can tell it is an accident because if it was retaliation would Kazmir really aim for his foot?). Manager Ned Yost takes offense and is ejected. Also ejected were pitching coach Dave Eiland and later Escobar and bench coach Don Wakamatsu were both ejected (Escobar wasn’t even playing in the game).
Then in the eighth inning Kelvin Herrera threw a pitch up and in at Lawrie. The next pitch was thrown all the way behind Lawrie at close to 100 mph which if it had hit Lawrie in the head it could have killed him.
Herrera was immediately ejected – the fifth Royal of the game, but what really continued the feud were the actions of Herrera as he being escorted off the field. He pointed to his head and appeared to say that either he’d been aiming for Lawrie’s head or that Lawrie had better watch out for that the next time.
Of course Herrera tried to excuse his actions maintaining that the pointing to his had gesture was meant to say “think about it.”
“I don’t mean to hurt anybody,” Herrera told the media, as reported by ESPN. “I was just trying to throw inside, but just a bad grip on that fastball. It started raining pretty good. And they just tossed me out of the game.”
However if you watch the video that was clearly not the words coming out of his mouth, which of course the A’s took offense to as they should have. Josh Reddick, Sean Doolittle and Lawrie all had some choice words about what happened,
Said Lawrie: “That’s what got me hot. That’s what got me mad. You don’t throw behind someone and then walk away, when you throw 100 mph, and say, ‘The next time I face you, I’m gonna hit you in the head.’ That’s [garbage]. That’s some [garbage], and he needs to pay for that. That ain’t OK. This is a game. This isn’t going up there and trying to hurt people. This guy doesn’t throw 85 mph. He throws 100.”
I’m sorry to say it but Lawrie is correct. You don’t go out there to hurt people. He didn’t intentionally hurt Escobar and apologized.
If Lawrie had been hit in the head by a 100 mph fastball it could very easily have killed him. I’d call what Herrera did could be considered attempted murder and if he were to have hit Lawrie in the head and kill him, that would be premeditated murder in the first because of what he said.
Sure I may be going overboard with the “murder” bit but it IS serious. Look at what happened to Giancarlo Stanton last season and he was considered “lucky.” The ball Milwaukee Brewers’ pitcher Mike Fiers threw accidentally at Stanton could have killed him or ruined his career and that ball was clearly thrown by accident.
Many of the A’s think that Herrera’s five game suspension isn’t enough. Herrera deserves a much harsher punishment but at least the league sent a message.
Ventura, on the other hand was fined an undisclosed amount, which is fair enough in my opinion, because retaliation does happen in baseball and everyone involved felt like Ventura hitting Lawrie ended the feud – at least until Sunday’s shenanigans.
Anyway, back to my original point. How in the world can anyone say that the Athletics’ were the ones that “waged war?” when it was the Royals who were ejected and suspended, when it was the Royals who dragged out the conflict and threatened future bodily harm to one of the A’s players?
I may be an A’s fan but there is no way that an accidental but admittedly bad and late slide by Lawrie should have caused the complete mess that was the three game series between the two teams.
The Royals and their fans should take responsibility for their poor actions and apparently other teams think that the Royals’ behavior this year hasn’t been exceptional and certainly not the behavior that the reigning American League Champions should be exhibiting.
Lawrie says other teams also tired of way Royals are behaving this year; says it shows lack of veteran leadership.
— Susan Slusser (@susanslusser) April 21, 2015
Maybe that’s what their problem is – a lack of veteran leadership. They no longer have Billy Butler who had this to say about his former team that he clearly still loves although we know he is happy to be a member of the A’s.
— John Hickey (@JHickey3) April 19, 2015
If Billy Butler thinks that there are issues going on over in Kansas City, then there probably are. It was NOT the A’s waging war, it was the Royals. PERIOD.