Tag Archives: Prince Fielder

Baseball and the folly of retaliation

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The Cactus League season has just gotten under way, and controversy has already come out of the San Francisco Giants’ camp. In a game yesterday, Barry Zito plunked Prince (not Cecil, as I first had) Fielder with a fastball to the back. Although no one has definitively said so, it appears to have been a calculated act of retaliation for the Milwaukee Brewers’ showy celebration last fall when Fielder cracked a homer to defeat the Giants in extra innings. As Fielder jumped on the plate, his teammates fell to the ground as if they were bowling pins. The MLB Web site has a good video summary here.

The Brewers’ celebration had clearly been orchestrated in advance, and I have to say it was bush league showboating. But I also think the Giants’ retaliation was just as stupid and silly.

The whole concept of retaliation in baseball strikes me as a bit juvenile. Maybe that’s because I vividly recall my one rather comical attempt at retaliation when I was playing in a summer league when I was in high school.

I played shortstop, and in the middle of the game our second baseman, Eddie, got spiked when trying to turn a double-play. I figured the big-league thing to do would be to get back at the opposing team if I got the chance, all for the chivalrous defense of my center-of-the-diamond partner.

Somehow I ended up on base an inning or two later and found myself running toward home plate. The catcher was doing his job blocking the plate as he waited for the throw from the field. I plowed into the catcher and fell to the ground. I can’t remember if I was safe or out, but I do remember jumping up and pushing the catcher with both hands as hard as I could.

Trouble was, the catcher, who happened to play football on my high school’s team, was a lot bigger than I was. He was even more intimidating with his chest protector and shin guards on. He probably had about 50 pounds and a good two or three inches in height on me at a time when I had the physique (and batting average) of Mark Belanger of the Baltimore Orioles.

The catcher didn’t even flinch, and I had an “uh-oh” moment before several of my teammates grabbed me and pulled me back to our bench, which luckily was along the third-base line.

Call me if a wussy if you will, but that was the first and last time I ever tried to get back at someone violently on the field. I’d have done better by ripping a double down the line or spearing a liner to rob someone of a hit.

That’s the way the game should be played, by kids and by pros who should know better.

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Capping off the Home Run Derby

large_princemgWhile not wearing a cap, Prince Fielder won the Home Run Derby tonight in St. Louis on the eve of the All-Star Game. In fact, several sluggers went capless in taking their hacks at Busch Stadium, and maybe that’s just as well. I was not keen on either of the league’s cap and jersey styles. To me, the All-Star Game always has been special, and seeing all the caps and colors from the various teams represented made it so.

One of my Twitter buddies, who posts a San Francisco Giants blog called Nuschlers News, asked during the derby if anyone besides him preferred the old days when the players wore their own team uniforms or at least their team caps while at the All-Star Game. I’m not sure how many replies he received, but all but two preferred players wearing their own apparel.

The derby is a lot of fun, and our family usually makes a point to watch, although it’s a little more difficult out here in the Pacific time zone than it was when we lived in the Eastern.

The kids running loose in the outfield to retrieve flyballs is a nice, if calculated, touch. You can imagine the baseball marketing guys saying, “Let’s remind everybody that this is a game for kids played by men who still are kids at heart.” Yeah, yeah. And let’s all profit richly (by selling All-Star uniforms and caps, say?).

But I shan’t crab anymore. The All-Star Game and the hoopla surrounding it are genuine American creations and traditions. I can’t remember if the players revert to their own uniforms and caps in the game itself, but I certainly hope that’s what happens tomorrow night. I want to see Tim Lincecum in San Francisco orange and black standing on the sidelines for the anthem with Manny Ramirez in his Dodger blue, Derek Jeter in Yankee pinstripes and Ichiro sporting the Mariners’ compass rose. Those “ordinary” uniforms gathered on one diamond underscore just how special a night it is.