MLB Pitchers: A Major League Menace

[Awkward stuttering and fumbling with paper noises]

[Awkward stuttering and fumbling with paper noises]

Everything is wrong with Major League Baseball. Seriously, everything. It’s a very difficult to talk about this subject without offending serious baseball fans, so let’s not even bother tiptoeing around any feelings. However, they deserve an awful lot of credit for remaining so steadfastly loyal to America’s Pastime as the sports world passes it by.

The game is so bogged down and absolutely entrenched in what is often referred to and revered as tradition, but it’s slowly rotting away the game from the inside out. Sure it’s probably a little unfair to point the finger at pitchers specifically, considering they aren’t they only thing wrong with the game.

The never ending steroid era, the inexplicable resistance to instant replay, the bad officiating, and the refusal to implement a salary cap—or even a bottom—now that’s a mess. Then there’s the Miami Marlins. The only fixing that situation is burning that stadium to the ground and pretending like it was all just a bad dream.

Anyone have some gasoline and a match?

Anyone have some gasoline and a match?

The Chicago Cubs haven’t won a World Series in over a century, the Pittsburgh Pirates haven’t finished over .500 in two decades, and the payroll differential between the ceiling and the floor is approximately $200 million.

Oh, and how about the fact that America doesn’t even care about America’s Pastime enough anymore to represent it on a global stage—the U.S. didn’t even finish in the final two of the 2013 World Baseball Classic. That’s some serious stuff.

So now you may be wondering what all that has to do with MLB pitchers, which is understandable, because the answer is nothing. That kind of crap is the sport’s crumbling foundation that can’t really ever be fixed due to substantial water damage and a serious case of denial on behalf the parties responsible.

The only thing that can be done is addressing superficial problems that are easily fixed and hope the whole damn thing doesn’t come crashing down. And perhaps after a few of them are patched up, the whole thing would feel as hopeless.

The way pitchers behave on the mound, and even in the bull pen, is like a broken window in the attic. It’s an easily fixed problem, if only someone would address it, but in the mean time all kinds of bugs and vermin are making themselves at home there and things are starting to fester. It’s becoming infested…infected.

Everyone knows about the unwritten rules of baseball—a strange and petty list of perceived misdeeds that can lead to various types of retribution. This imaginary rule book, and the imaginary rules within it, all revolve around the pitcher.

Ouch.

Ouch.

The pitcher basically decides when an offense has been committed. It usually ranges from daring to hit three home runs in a row against him to running the bases with more enthusiasm that he finds tolerable. It aways seems to stem from his own crappy pitching, whatever it is.

Then there’s the patented “Welcome to MLB, rookie” “wild pitch” to the face or back. Apparently each ball club elects a Jagoff-In-Chief each year and it’s always a pitcher. He’s charged with doing horrible things like that and probably euthanizing the feral cats in the stadium area with his bare hands.

The way an alpha-pitcher interacts with his team is similar to the way a pack of wolves interacts with each other in the wild. Through grunts, growls, side-eyed glances, and cold dark stares. One distinct motion or look from the alpha-pitcher to his team is all it takes to clear both benches and incite a temporary riot.

Yikes.

Yikes.

It doesn’t always go that far, sometimes they’ll play off a wild pitch as an accident. Sometimes cooler heads prevail. Although normally if a pitcher insists on continually needling the opposition through the various resources he has at his disposal, it’ll end in an ejection.

Usually an overly dramatic spectacle. It’s a joke that they aren’t suspended more often for their behavior. It’s an even bigger joke when they actually do get suspended. There are 162 games in a season and pitchers are rarely suspended for more than 10 of them for any specific incident.

Very rarely. 10 games is pretty much as bad as it gets.

Well, pitchers start less than half those games. Which means in a 10 game suspension, he misses 1-2 starts, at most. But everyone else who is suspended because of the actions of the pitcher(s) involved has to serve every game of their suspensions.

Pitchers are part-time players, but full-time a-holes. Generally considered the most important part of any team legitimately trying to contend for a championship, they hold all the cards, and they know it. So it isn’t any wonder that clubs aren’t stepping in themselves to chastise their golden boys.

But the league office isn’t really doing much either. Their nickel and dime fines and suspensions that result in more time in the bullpen chowing down on KFC and playing video games are not much of a deterrent.

There is no deterrent. MLB commissioner Bud Selig is still trying to chase down steroid offenders a decade later, while the game continues to erode outside a few major market cities. Partially empty ballparks, comically bloated paychecks for marginally talented player, and they’re still cheating.

Getting off on a technicality isn’t the same as being cleared.

It’s an embarrassment. Superstar players, and even managers these days, seem to have carte blanche to behave like petulant bat-wielding children. Or ball-wielding children that have the physical ability and inclination to nail you in the face with a 90mph fastball if he doesn’t like the color of your gum.

Clearly MLB isn’t able to fix anything else that’s wrong with it. So why not address this issue? Crack down hard, stamp it out, and finally get a win. But that’s just not how baseball operates.

Getting a win and bettering the sport at the same time is far less important than the tradition of bench clearing brawls incited pitchers on a power trip. So let’s just keep talking about the steroid issue and hope nobody notices everything else is falling apart.

It's easier to just blaming this guy for everything wrong with the game anyway.

It’s easier to just blaming this guy for everything wrong with the game anyway.

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