Pitcher’s act shouldn’t get high praise

Commentary

PITTSBURGH — It’s a lonely feeling, being one of the few people in America not emotionally moved by the video of the high school pitcher rushing to embrace the batter he just struck out.

It was all over TV last week. In a Minnesota high school game, the pitcher struck out the batter to end the game and win some sort of playoff game.

As his teammates celebrated, the pitcher rushed to home plate and locked a firm embrace on the batter. It was explained later that despite being on competing teams, the two players were childhood friends.

The pitcher felt as though he needed to console the batter and assure him their friendship was bigger than any competition.

So every TV anchor swooned and said this was the meaning of sportsmanship.

Or maybe it wasn’t quite as good as it seemed.

Athletes — at least beyond tee-ball age — are a different breed. They take pride in what they do. They don’t want participation trophies, and they don’t want hugs of consolation just seconds after they’ve struck out to end the game.

The pitcher’s heart may have been in the right place, but his legs weren’t. He had time to wait a minute. Let the guy who struck out at least get out of the batter’s box.

Instead of treating him like a worthy competitor, he acted like the batter was a pathetic little brother playing at a level beyond his skill set.

The pitcher could have made the same point without the conspicuous sprint to the plate.

In fact, he should have.

Their problem now

The Steelers’ front office people must have felt a sense of relief when reports started circulating that Martavis Bryant may have violated the NFL’s substance abuse policy again.

(At this point, those reports are unconfirmed).

The Steelers traded Bryant to the Oakland Raiders during the draft. Moving him elsewhere was absolutely necessary despite Bryant’s considerable talent.

Gifted players have to be reliable players, too, and Bryant doesn’t qualify for that description. He’s already lost a full season to an NFL suspension.

Maybe nothing happens this time. It’s not anything the Steelers have to spend any time contemplating.

Under control

If you’re of the misguided belief that MLB umpires are close-minded, power-crazed despots who rule with an iron fist, there’s an online clip you need to see.

The TV crew had umpire Tom Hallion wired during a 2016 game when the New York Mets’ Noah Syndergaard deliberately threw a pitch behind a Los Angeles Dodgers batter, earning an ejection.

The arguments that ensue show Hallion handling the situation capably, which includes allowing then-Mets manager Terry Collins to unload some heavy-duty obscenities at one of the other umpires. Hallion and Collins are nose-to-nose, but they’re talking through the circumstances, albeit at high volume. Hallion explains the umpires’ position.

Hallion lets Collins loudly vent (at one point he asks, “You got everything out?”) and walks him back to the dugout.

A lesser umpire may have escalated the situation. Hallion settled it down, even though emotions were running high.

Do a YouTube search on “Tom Hallion,” and it should be the first video that comes up. (Not for those sensitive to bad language). It’s an interesting look at how things sometimes unfold on the field.

Mehno can be reached at johnmehnocolumn@gmail.com.

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