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Mehno: Pirates, Reds need to follow NHL’s example

Commentary

June 19, 2013
By John Mehno (johnmehnocolumn@gmail.com) , The Altoona Mirror

PITTSBURGH - People ridicule the NHL for allowing players to fight, but maybe hockey has the right idea.

You have a beef with someone? Back it up. Drop the gloves, square off and fight.

The fight ends, the fighters sit in the penalty box, and the game goes on.

That would make more sense than the silly dance the Pittsburgh Pirates and Cincinnati Reds have been doing this season.

It actually goes back to last year, when hard-throwing Reds reliever Aroldis Chapman buzzed Andrew McCutchen with a pitch above the shoulders. Much later, Pirates reliever Jared Hughes hit Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips.

This season, the teams have sort of resumed that hostility. There have been close pitches, and hitters from both teams have been hit. The feeling lingers that some of the close pitches are intentional, but no one is quite certain.

Pitchers have to throw inside. Most pitchers don't have pinpoint control 100 percent of the time. So is that close pitch a "purpose pitch," or is just an effort to keep a hitter from crowding the plate and easily reaching outside pitches?

Chapman was at it again on Monday, throwing a 98 mile per hour fastball under Neil Walker's nose. Walker was able to get out of the way, but there's no mistaking the scary sound of a baseball whistling by one's face.

Funny that it happened the same way the McCutchen episode unfolded last year - the Pirates were trailing in the game, in their last at bat. There was no chance to retaliate swiftly against a Reds hitter.

Word is talk radio was humming with demands for pitches aimed at Reds players' heads. A lot of people are from the "let's you and him fight" school.

So would the hostility carry over? What's the protocol? Chapman rarely bats, so there's no chance to aim a pitch above his shoulders.

Charge the mound and it's an automatic suspension. That's not a viable response.

And who decides if there was intent? The pitch that knocked Walker down looked intentional, but maybe Chapman would swear it wasn't.

Things would be so much easier if the aggrieved parties could just square off and have an honest one-on-one fight to settle things.

Flawed thinking

Pete Rose was at the Pirates-Reds game on Monday, which led Pirates announcer Greg Brown to make a case for Rose's inclusion in the Hall of Fame, as well as the opportunity to manage again.

His reasoning was that steroid users had corrupted baseball, so now Rose's crime of gambling on games doesn't seem as bad.

Apply that logic to real life and we could spring all the car thieves and bank robbers from prison because, hey, they didn't murder anyone.

Rose is right where he belongs, watching from the stands. The Hall of Fame recognizes his significant accomplishments. It does not honor a man who consistently and blatantly violated the game's No. 1 rule, then aggressively lied about it for 10 years.

Rose is on the outside looking in. He earned that spot.

Mehno can be reached at johnmehnocolumn@gmail.com.

 
 

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