Baltimore Orioles in recent games against Boston Red Sox:
Adam Jones: called a nigger by some Boston Red Sox fans in center field; fan conduct universally condemned.
Manny Machado: thrown at multiple times by Boston Red Sox pitchers; no big deal by baseball protocol.
Both Jones and Machado were upset but Machado seemingly much more so as indicated in his interview after last night's game. His remarks had words censored many times. This, of course, was not possible for the words shouted at Jones by those fans.
When Jones batted last night Boston fans rose and applauded, apparently to show their condemnation of the uncivil behavior of the relatively few who had shouted nigger at Jones in the previous game. However, when Machado batted there was no indication that Boston fans condemned their starting pitcher Chris Sale for throwing behind the knees of Machado. Machado had been targeted previously as retribution for his slide into Red Sox second baseman Dustin Predoia, who had publicly made peace with Machado. Then Baltimore retaliated against a Boston batter, ... the usual primitive behavior.
"Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.''
Obviously, the old saying is a bit trite but it does provide some perspective. Who among us would rather have a 90 mph fastball thrown at us instead of being called a name? For me it's not even close. Call me anything you want: dago, wop, guinea, ... but keep that fastball away from me. I'll forget the word quickly enough but the potential damage caused by actually being hit is likely to be much worse. And even if the ball is a near miss, the trauma and outrage, as exhibited by Machado, would have a far longer lasting impact on me. I'd remember it for a very long time ... and want revenge.
The commissioner should ensure a civil environment for fans and players at the ballparks. Foul language of all sorts has long been a part of it, as has physical intimidation among the players. Violent slides and collisions have been outlawed in recent years at the plate and then at second base. Many objected when these reforms were being considered and then implemented. But play at both places is much better since it has been cleaned up. You hardly hear anyone advocating for a return to the barbarism of just a few years ago.
But a post game discussion on MLB Network by former pitcher Pedro Martinez and former third baseman Mike Lowell about the Red Sox throwing at Machado contained the same nonsense that's been accepted for over a century: retaliation by throwing at batters is part of the game and we have no intention of changing that, just adhering to an accepted protocol. Martinez was a head hunter of the first order, yet he was elected to the Hall of Fame. That shows the state of things. Words are condemned but not actions.