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Thursday, June 9, 2016

Duke it out, hockey style?

Yordano Ventura, the Kansas City pitcher who likes to throw at batters, was being discussed during last night's Yankee game at the Stadium. Play-by-play announcer Micheal Kay was saying that a former hockey player turned talk show radio guy had an interesting thought. Coincidentally, I had heard the hockey player discussing some of this yesterday afternoon.

Kay discussed it briefly with two former Yankees who contributed little insight.

Hockey guy supposedly had said that the Major Baseball League (MBL) should provide for or at least allow two guys with a beef to fight it out man to man as is done in the National Hockey League (NHL). It sounded like a somewhat rational alternative to the barbarity of arbitrary retaliation at some unspecified future time against possibly an unspecified player, usually by having a pitcher fire a fastball at more than 90 miles per hour at the target.

Except ...

In hockey the players have relatively equal opportunities to damage each other as part of the normal action. Big guys always have an advantage but little guys are then protected by big guys (enforcers) on their team. Blah, blah, blah. You get the idea, which is why I dumped hockey about 30 years ago. The NHL had become the functional equivalent of professional wrestling in which fans were supposed to become enraged at obviously unacceptable behavior that they not only condone fighting but relish and look forward to it as an integral part of the entertainment. The old joke was: I was watching a fight when a hockey game broke out.

According to the hockey guy if a pitcher and batter have a beef, they get face to face and fight. Sounds pretty fair and it's certainly much better than the 150 year old junk that we Americans have accepted. But there are obvious flaws.

A few years ago I ran numbers to find the size of players by position. The biggest were pitchers and first basemen. This was consistent over 100 years. So except when he is pitching to a first baseman or maybe a designated hitter, the pitcher is likely to be bigger.

The real problem is the natural advantage the pitcher has in all this. He gets to fire a baseball at a batter. The idiotic protocol from baseball jerks for decades is that the best revenge is for the batter to get a hit. No, that's the objective of the game. Revenge would be the batter having the opportunity to fire a baseball back at the pitcher. Then the two would be equal. I actually advocated that a few years ago. It's obviously way more of a practical solution than what hockey guy and Micheal Kay were advocating.

Let the batter take a ball and run at the pitcher and fire it at point blank range but not at the head or a joint. The pitchers may keep their gloves. They don't know how to use them anyway. The batter gets just one try. What would happen is that the pitcher would run away. That potential humiliation alone might eliminate a high percentage of instances when a pitcher might want to hit a batter.

Rules against taunting were opposed by hockey guy and others as removing emotion from the game. That's beyond stupid. Of course, baseball should have rules against taunting. Football and basketball have them. Geez, come on.

Taunting contributes to violence between teams and should be banned. Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Manny Machado and Yordano Ventura meet Billy Martin and Jim Brewer, who sued Martin and won. Wednesday, June 8, 2016

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