The baseball brawl

I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this before, so in case I haven’t, there is one sport that I actually do enjoy watching and following, and that’s baseball. It’s something I picked up from my brother, and it’s now something that I will probably be following for years to come. I’m not obsessed with it to the point where I can endlessly quote stats, but I do enjoy going to a game at the Rogers Centre every once in a while or catching part of a game on TV.

This time of the year is an interesting time for baseball. The official MLB season hasn’t started yet, but there is spring training happening, so lots of games are happening in Florida right now. Plus, and here’s where my post comes in, there’s the World Baseball Classic happening.

This is, as the title might imply, a tournament with a bunch of national teams playing against each other. I have no doubt that the teams from Cuba, the Dominican Republic and Japan will all do exceedingly well, as those countries essentially live for baseball. I would say the same thing about the United States, but they’re in a bit of a tough spot right now. They’re in the same group as Canada, along with Mexico and Italy. The US actually lost to Mexico, and Canada lost to Italy.

So yesterday’s game for Canada was an intense one. If they lost to Mexico, they’d be out of the tournament. The game went well for Canada, eventually turning into a 10-3 win.

But the real story of yesterday’s game happened in the ninth inning. Rene Tosoni of Canada was at bat, and the Mexican pitcher intentionally hit Tosoni with his pitch. Within seconds, players from both benches had spilled onto the field and were punching each other. You can take a look at this summary of the incident by ESPN.

What’s troubling about all of this isn’t so much that the fight happened, but how people deal with incidents like this when they happen. There seems to be an inherent code in baseball that says “If you hurt one of our players, we’re gonna hurt one of yours.” When I went to a baseball game last year, the pitcher from the Boston Red Sox hit two or three Blue Jays with a pitch, so later the Jays pitcher intentionally hit then-Red Sox batter Kevin Youkilis. Youkilis himself seemed to understand that the payment was due.

Obviously in the Mexico/Canada game yesterday that balance was upset, since Mexico seemed to be really upset about the run differential, which can be used as a tiebreaking statistic. I’m not going to say that the “eye for an eye” baseball code is any better than the “we’re losing so let’s hit someone” code, because both are silly in their own way.

But anyways, news items about the fight afterward aren’t necessarily full of dismay. This Globe & Mail article at least included a statement from World Baseball Classic Inc. saying that they disapproved of what happened and that it runs counter to the spirit of the tournament.

As for people I know, commenting on Facebook and elsewhere, more of what I saw was “How awesome was that?” Solidarity is a nice thing, but I’m not a huge fan of huge brawls erupting for any reason whatsoever. Call me what you’d like, but the whole thing is pretty silly.

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