Padres Editorial: Protecting Your Teammates

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Mandatory Credit: AP Photo
Mandatory Credit: AP Photo

As I watched Matt Kemp get hit with a fastball up and in on Tuesday night, my immediate reaction was probably like most San Diego Padres fans. I was angry thinking that the pitch was intentional. Thinking about it after the fact I realized San Francisco Giants starter Chris Heston had a no-hitter going. Yes it was early in the game, but certainly he did not mean to hit Kemp.

Giants catcher Hector Sanchez‘s grand slam was an absolute bomb and he did flip the bat and give it a little stare. In this day and age of the game, how much is too much as far as showing up the pitcher? Sanchez was a .194 hitter coming into the game. He hardly gets to play, being the back-up of Buster Posey. Yes he stared at the home run, it will probably be one of the highlight hits of his career. Was he disrespecting anyone? Yes, probably a little. However, how much is really too much when it comes to disrespecting the game? If the Padres had an issue then the next batter should have been drilled or Sanchez himself his next at bat.

I do not condone violence in the game at all, the game shouldn’t be played in that nature. However there are certain unwritten rules of the game in which teams should play. A player should never do anything on the field to show disrespect to the other team. The Padres and more specifically Shawn Kelley were upset with Sanchez. That is quite clear. Kelley looked as though he was intentionally trying to peg Sanchez in the first pitch of his at bat against Kelley. He missed and missed again, then Sanchez grounded out to first base.

The two teams got into a shouting match and of course nothing happened from it. Shawn Kelley‘s failed attempt to hit Sanchez reminds me of Tyson Ross failed attempt to hit Andrelton Simmons in Atlanta in early June. Simmons slid hard into Derek Norris for no apparent reason (Norris has been in a terrible slump since) and the Padres wanted to send a signal to the Braves. Horrible signal as Ross failed to hit Simmons and then gave up a run scoring single to him. The Braves took exception to Simmons being thrown at and hit Matt Kemp, then hit Justin Upton. The Padres responded by winning the last game of the series, but failed to save face against a team that was bullying them around.

Flash forward a couple of weeks and Cory Spangenberg was violently taken out at second base by Arizona Diamondbacks infielder Nick Ahmed. Spangenberg suffers a severe bone bruise and as yet to resume baseball activities almost a month later. Was any retaliation taken against the Diamonbacks and or Nick Ahmed? No, Nothing. Not a single thing was done about it. Not a great signal to send to the entire team.

The way I was taught to play the game, Ahmed would have been hit in the back his next at bat and the teams would move on with life. The game of baseball is played this way so that each team can police themselves. Pitchers need to protect their hitters. The offensive players need to know that they can be comfortable in the box. If they think there is a chance the other team can or will throw at them, then the hitter will simply not perform. If your pitcher has your back and will retaliate against any nonsense then you know as a hitter you can be comfortable. Not an exact science but the game has always been played that way by successful teams.

Success is what the San Diego Padres lack. They lack the consistency of a contending Major League team. The talent is clearly on the roster but it takes more than talent to win. The cohesion of the entire group is what guides teams to championships. The players need to know that they have each others back. It appears this team is divided to some degree. I do not know what the problem is, but A.J. Preller has his work cut out in order to fix this issue.

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