The hit batsman is one of those controversial topics that has sparked many a lively debate among baseball players and enthusiasts alike for as long as the game has been played. Nolan Ryan, one of the best pitchers ever, has admitted to hitting batters intentionally with one of his pitches as a form of retaliation or revenge. Others say that no, pitchers just suffer from instant "control issues" and don't mean to hit anyone (yeah, right!). There hadn't been too much of a punishment for hitting a batter until recently, when Commissioner Bud Selig decided that he wasn't enough of a jerk yet, so he should institute "guidelines" and "penaltiess" for instances where a pitcher hits a batter. It used to be "part of the game," where a batter would get hit, he would glare at the pitcher, and the game would go on (with an occasional bench-clearing brawl). Nowadays, you get a warning, then you get ejected from the game. If your manager does his job and tries to go defend you, he gets ejected too. This is what happened in today's game between the Nationals and Diamondbacks, where 5 players were hit. After Jayson Werth was hit by starting pitcher Ian Kennedy, the Nats' Jason Marquis hit Justin Upton in the sixth inning and was ejected from the game. Jim Riggleman went out to defend his pitcher and was subsequently thrown out too. Then in the eighth, Danny Espinosa was hit for the second time, this time by D'backs' reliever Esmerling Vasquez. So both Vasquez and his manager, Kirk Gibson, were ejected then. It was a wild game, with the Nationals leading going into the bottom of the ninth, only to have the D'backs tie it and send the game into extra innings. How did the game end? With hottie Michael Morse hitting a Grand Slam (his second one this year) in the 11th inning and the Nats winning 9-4. It was one of those games that had everything - good offense, good defense, and lots of entertainment. If only every game could be this exciting!
In other action today, the Pirates lost to the Phillies 7-3 after taking the first two games of that series. Roy Halliday won the game, and is now 8-3. Sigh! And I can't believe I hadn't mentioned this player before, but Antonio Bastardo pitched in relief for the Phillies today - poor guy must have really gotten picked on with a last name like that! Just a little bit east of here, the Orioles lost to the Blue Jays 7-4 after having had such a good game yesterday. The Yankees beat the Angels 5-3, with Derek Jeter going 1-5 and standing at 2,986 hits.
Today was also my son's last game of his first season playing Little League. He had one hit and scored a run. His team didn't win a single game this season, but my son had fun and learned a lot. His team had many nice boys, one mean kid, and a girl who hit better than most boys her age. They learned how to play as a team, how to communicate while fielding, and how to run the bases. And in the entire season, not one of the kids got hit by a pitch!