On July 31, Gerardo Parra hit two dingers in Dodger Stadium, the second of which was a bomb off of Hong-Chih Kuo that Parra longingly admired. On Tuesday, after Kuo unleashed a rocket towards Parra’s head – and with Kuo’s control problems this year, who the hell knows if that was intentional or not – Parra took Kuo deep again, once again took his sweet time to watch it, and was on the receiving end of some verbal abuse from Clayton Kershaw and A.J. Ellis.
Got all that? So as you’ve no doubt heard, Kershaw, working on a one-hit shutout in the fifth on Wednesday (with the one hit, of course, being from Parra), nailed Parra on the elbow and was immediately ejected by home plate umpire Bill Welke, along with Dodger manager Don Mattingly. Now, I hardly need to recap for you what came next: the Dodgers insisted that it wasn’t intentional, because why would Kershaw do something that would so obviously get him tossed out of the game and impact his Cy Young chances, and because Parra was leaning over the plate and did little to avoid the pitch. The Diamondbacks insisted it was, because of the history with Parra and because Kershaw’s been so good that it’s hard to argue it was a coincidence that the ball just got away from him with Parra, of all people, hitting.
Borrowed from Chad Moriyama, you can make your own call:
The truth is probably somewhere in between, with my opinion leaning towards “Kershaw probably meant to send a message, not hit him, and Parra just stood there,” but to be honest, I don’t really care too much. I’m sure Bill Plaschke is furiously fapping away his latest story about how Kershaw has earned respect – you know, because everyone thought he was a joke before for only contending for the Cy Young at 23 – but it really doesn’t matter. If there is one unquestionable bad guy, it’s home plate umpire Welke, who wildly overreacted by immediately tossing Kershaw on a questionable call. (Update: when I wrote the line about Plaschke, he had not published an article this morning, and I was mostly joking. But just a few minutes ago, up went his piece, calling out Kershaw’s “toughness” and “leadership”. Predictable Bill is predictable.)
Now as you can imagine, Dodger fans were incensed. Of course they were. They’re biased for the Dodgers, even if only subconsciously, and that’s fine – that’s half the point of being a fan. What really entertains me, though, is that even people on the Arizona side thought the ejection was ridiculous:
Nick Piecoro, Arizona Republic:
Tyler Bassett, ArizonaSports.com:
That is why I think baseball got it wrong. You simply, absolutely cannot throw a pitcher out of a game unless you are 100% convinced he has intentionally thrown at someone. Even if that’s the case it’s iffy unless he specifically went head hunting.
It’s a 2-0 game. Kershaw had just thrown the first pitch for a strike. He was in the middle of a one-hitter and going for his 19th win.
Mark Grace & Daron Sutton, Arizona broadcasters (from the Bassett story):
Grace could not believe what he was watching. Both him and Sutton were stunned Kershaw was being thrown out of the game.
“Maybe the game has passed me by,” Grace said in amazement.
When even the media from the team that greatly benefits from the ejection think it’s crazy, you know you’re doing something wrong. Of course, umpires greatly overstepping their bounds is hardly a new idea in baseball. As for Kershaw, he’s likely to get two more starts this season whether or not he is suspended, and thanks to the great work of Josh Lindblom and Kenley Jansen, he still walked away with his 19th win last night. Not that it matters; Roy Halladay‘s 8th complete game, a 1-0 shutout of Houston yesterday, seems to only bolster his case as front-runner.