Men behaving badly would be okay with me. But it's not okay when men have to resort to that behavior merely to prove their manhood. What a charade the whole "retaliation pitch" situation was in game three of the National League Championship Series between the Philadelphia Phillies and the Los Angeles Dodgers. At best, it kept the Dodgers from having their virility questioned.
Here's the scene: the Phillies wouldn't stop testing the Dodgers to see if they would fight back and keep the Phillies' pitchers from throwing at, near and over the bodies and heads of the Dodger hitters. It started in game two on Friday night in Philadelphia and the Dodger pitcher that night didn't retaliate by plunking one of the Phillies hitters. That became a problem among the very manly men who populate the sports world.
In game three at Dodger Stadium, the Phils ramped up the bean ball activity by actually hitting the Dodgers' star catcher in the leg with a fastball. The kid was also the victim of a nasty inside pitch in his next at-bat that made him jump back to keep from getting hit again. At that point he lost his composure and weakly hit a ball to the shortstop for the final out of that inning. He was madder than hell and expected that his team's pitcher was going to do something about it. Apparently the Dodgers' strategy of trying to win games without throwing at the opposing team's batters was not going to suffice. Like a victim of a school yard bully who tests his victim to see if he will stand up for his right not to be tormented, the Dodgers had to fight for their manhood or be laughed out of the stadium.
The broadcast announcers were egging on the Dodgers to throw at someone. Los Angeles sports writers had called for the same thing in the morning's newspapers. Every old timer who played the game before retaliation became a last resort rather than an accepted practice was yelling at the screen for the Dodgers to show up the bully. They all asked why Dodger manager Joe Torre wasn't instructing his pitchers to throw back and protect his players from absorbing more punishment. Joe, who generally shrinks from that kind of behavior had no choice at that point.
Thus, it was not a matter of whether pitcher Hiroki Kuroda would throw at someone but who it would be and where the pitch would land. Phillies center fielder Shane Victorino was the victim and the ball sailed behind and above his head, much like the pitch thrown at Manny Ramirez in game two. All the critics who were reaching for testosterone supplements to give to the Dodgers were happy and we could all go back to our regularly scheduled ball game that was still in progress.
When all was said and done, the Phillies stopped plunking Dodgers, the Dodgers felt like card carrying members of their gender and the game went on to its conclusion. Why does this go on at all? When the bully team knows it will stop as soon as the victim smacks back doesn't that strip any meaning from intimidating hitters at the plate with pitches that are meant to keep them from focusing on what they are doing?
But I'm happy for the Dodgers. They can go on with their series without the necessity of performance enhancing substances. Not steroids mind you, but the ones that are advertised incessantly in TV ads to offer men assistance when they can't seem to perform like men. Cialis anyone?