It’s the bottom of the ninth inning with your team’s best slugger up to the plate. The pitcher winds up, throws a 90 MPH missile straight at the million dollar arm of an all-star. The ball makes contact, and the batter goes down hard. Both benches clear and a brawl ensues. As for the pitcher, worst case scenario they get a suspension with a fine that won’t make a dent in their pocketbook. However, what usually happens to first-time offenders during a game is a slap on the wrist and a “don’t do it again” from the umpire.
Does this scenario sound all to familiar? Pitchers intentionally hitting batters is something that has resided within baseball since the beginning. It is a prime example of the unwritten rules of baseball going too far. Scholars have long argued the reasoning behind intentionally hitting batters with pitches. Anything from the heat, time of day, to the batter’s skin colour have been blamed for pitchers having the urge to strike them with a fastball. In 1920, a pitch thrown by Carl Mays resulted in death for the batter. So, just because it was a little too hot, it gave the pitcher enough of an excuse to hit the batter? That’s ridiculous.
The MLB, and other governing bodies of baseball need to take a good step back and reassess the penalties for intentionally hitting a batter with a pitch. It is a dangerous play that serves nothing less than to harm the competitor.