All Out to Get You 

From Will Carroll's BP column today:

"There are whispers from some around baseball that the Barry Bonds plunking on Tuesday was premeditated and that there’s a group of pitchers and coaches determined to 'make Bonds pay' on his way towards history."

Vigilante justice, eh? Headhunting is not nice, but I admit I understand the raw emotions behind it. I've been on the mound when a prime a-hole is in the batter's box, a guy everyone loathes and who needs to be taught a lesson.

But it never really works that way. Does a jerk who's just been subjected to chin music dust himself off and realize the error of his ways? I'd reckon a guy with attitude problems will only get more ornery after getting beaned.

It certainly raises his teammates' bile. The "lesson" becomes a step in an escalation that often ends up in a stupid injury to someone other than the first target -- how many times have you seen a player emerge from a mid-field, bench-clearing scrum clutching a shoulder, elbow or other body part? And how often is it not the guy who prompted the scuffle in the first place?

The best reason to throw at a batter is to keep him from getting too comfortable. If I see someone leaning out and expecting the outside pitch, the next pitch goes right toward the belt buckle. Against lefties, a high-and-tight fastball is a great set-up pitch for a big curve. These are not messages, these are strategies meant to foil a batter's timing, balance and extension.

Seeing how the Giants just outscored the Asstoads 34-5 over three games, Houston pitchers apparently didn't upset the timing, balance or extension of many Giants hitters.

But, boy, they sure made Barry Bonds pay. If there was a message sent, it read something like, "We may lose three games against a mediocre team, and those three games may be crucial as we try to win our very competitive division, but at least we sent a message."

As Marshall McCluhan would have said if he were an Astros fan, the message is the message. Sorry, Phil Garner, your tautology does not intimidate us.

For all I care, opposing teams can keep throwing at Bonds. Their pitchers will be more set on sending messages than making good pitches, their staffs will be shorthanded from the ejections, and the Giants will have that many more baserunners.


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