The Price is Wrong

David Price claims that throwing at hitters is part of the game. That’s arrogance for a guy who never has to face a pitcher with a 95-hour fastball.  With the advent of the designated hitter, the “purpose pitch” should be disallowed in the American League, and perhaps in all of baseball as well.

It takes no skill or guts to plunk a hitter with a fastball. Given that the batter has no defense except to hit the ball back at the pitcher, it takes cowardice. It is the equivalent of a sucker punch.  For David Price to assert that he has the right to throw at a hitter to send a message it takes a smug sense of privilege that some, but not all, pitchers assume. They hold the ball, no one else. They control the game. Let the batter beware.

When Brandon Workman threw behind a Tampa Bay hitter in retaliation, that was the only defense David Ortiz had, other than rushing to the mound to clobber David Price. Workman was ejected for retaliation, but what else could he do to defend his hitters? Hitters are expected to stand up there as living targets, while pitchers throw with impunity?

When pitchers are struck by a batted ball, we feel compassion and hope they are not hurt. Even hitters may approach the mound to express their well wishes. No one wants a pitcher’s career or season shortened by a batted ball. No one would say he deserved to be hit or that he would be more careful how he pitched next time.

For some reason hitters are not extended this care or concern. They are expected to step into the batter’s box and accept whatever is thrown at them.  Of course, some pitches are mistakes. You can see that right away, because the pitcher shows immediate remorse. But some pitches can only be interpreted one way: I don’t like you, and I want you to fear me.

Anyone with the control of a David Price, should never hit a batter. He has the power to maim or kill another person with the speed and accuracy of his fastball. He has a responsibility to use it for good. To use it to keep the hitter thinking about what pitch is coming, not whether it is coming at him. Throw it inside or outside, but not where the batter is standing. He has a right to stand there without expecting to be intentionally hurt.

David Price is a Hall of Fame pitcher approaching the level of Bob Gibson, another headhunter. Gibson was the incarnation of the arrogant pitcher, who thought he owned the entire space from one batter’s box to the other. He scared the piss out of a generation of hitters. But Gibson had to hit, and he expected to take his lumps along with every hitter. David Price will never have to do that unless he reaches the World Series.

Price should not be allowed the privilege of hitting another batter. The next time should be an ejection, no questions asked.  He is the one who thinks himself above baseball, because he exploits the unreasonable advantage given to pitchers. Baseball needs to put him in his place.

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