Big Time Fights, They Aren’t Just for Hockey Anymore

The other day I decided to watch the World Baseball Classic game between Mexico and Canada.

Part of the motivation for watching the game was to try to figure out how it was that Team USA lost to the Mexican team the day before. The other motivation was the fact that I had watched Team Canada play in a tournament in St. Petersburg, FL last year.

Members of Team Canada take batting practice during a 2012 exhibition game at Al Lang Stadium in St. Petersburg, FL. Photo R. Anderson
Members of Team Canada take batting practice during a 2012 exhibition game at Al Lang Stadium in St. Petersburg, FL.
Photo R. Anderson

So as I settled in to watch the game I knew that while there are Major League Players on each of the rosters, the World Baseball Classic plays by international rules which differ from the MLB rules in some areas.

One of those rules involves running up the score when possible to help the run differential numbers.

In most cases running up the score is frowned upon in sports when the lead is well in hand.

In fact, high school and college games include an 11-run mercy rule to help prevent really lopsided scores.

Back when I covered high school baseball I actually found myself rooting for the mercy rule to come into play many a night.

It wasn’t that I wanted a team to lose by that much, but a shortened game meant that I could get back to the office sooner and in theory get the pages on the press earlier. It did not always work out that way but when it did it was uber nice.

So during the Canada versus Mexico game, and with Canada having a very safe lead late in the game, the lead off batter in the eighth inning for Canada dropped down a bunt and reached safely when the third baseman was late to react.

There was nothing inherently dirty about the bunt. As mentioned earlier, the tournament was set up to encourage teams to score as many runs as possible.

Apparently the third baseman for Team Mexico missed that memo and directed the pitcher to deliver a message to the next better. One international constant in baseball it seems that is understood in every language is the intentional hit batter when a team feels it has been wronged.

So, the pitcher hits the batter in the back, the batter takes offense and starts to charge the mound, and both benches clear and partake in an all out brawl.

Team Canada and the Baltimore Orioles during a 2012 exhibition game. Photo R. Anderson
Team Canada and the Baltimore Orioles during a 2012 exhibition game.
Photo R. Anderson

While not as common as say a fight in hockey, baseball fights do occur now and then. The main catalyst for these fights usually centers on a player getting hit by a pitch.

One of the more absurd elements of these fights for me is the sight of the bullpen pitchers running all the way across the outfield to get to the fight, which in many cases has already ended by the time they arrive to participate.

The fight between the Canadian and Mexican teams was atypical in the fact that it seemed to last a lot longer than most.

Once the teams were finally sent back to their dugouts and the dust had settled, fans of the Mexican team started throwing items into the Canadian team’s dugout. The most glaring of these being a mostly full water bottle that hit one of the coaches in the head.

Fans were ejected and the game was finally able to continue with Canada advancing and Mexico getting eliminated from the tournament.

While I do not go to a baseball game hoping to see a fight, I know that sometimes emotions run high and tempers flare leading to a dust up like the one at the game the other day. What I have no patience or sympathy for is unruly fans or people trying to get in on the action by throwing things onto the field.

For the most part athletes are not looking into the stands, except for Alex Rodriguez trying to get phones numbers, so they are more at risk of not seeing items flying in their direction. These projectiles falling from a long distance can create serious injury.

The fan mob mentality of throwing things is not limited to American soil. Soccer is known for the massive riots that erupt oversees. And many of those riots end with people being killed.

Seriously, people it is just a game. And there will be other ones so there is no need for people to lose their lives over it. Also, in many of those riots it is innocent people that end up paying with their lives over the action of a few.

I have had the opportunity to go to several sporting events that have included Canadian fans, both hockey and baseball. And by and large they are some of the most well behaved and considerate fans I have ever been around in terms of stadium etiquette.

Even when they are “heckling” the other team it seems polite and never rises to the level of personal attacks. Now, I am sure that there are bad Canadian fans, just like there are good and bad fans anywhere, but I have yet to see them.

My point is not to say that fans cannot get emotional about their teams. Quite the opposite healthy passion for one’s team is at the very heart of sports. What I am saying is that it is possible to be passionate and polite at the same time. If you don’t believe me just try sitting next to some Canadians some time.

Now if you’ll excuse me all of this talk about Canada has me in the mood to watch some Bob and Doug McKenzie movies.

Copyright 2013 R. Anderson