The Cubs don’t play until later this evening, so pitcher Jake Arrieta had some time to be a guest on 670 The Score this afternoon. The topic of Sunday’s brawl in San Francisco between Bryce Harper and Hunter Strickland came up.
Oh, did Jake have some hot takes:
#Cubs' Jake Arrieta on Strickland-vs.-Harper brawl: "I don't think anybody's right or wrong. I thought it was awesome."— 670 The Score (@670TheScore) May 30, 2017
Jake Arrieta sent Giants pitcher and former teammate Jeff Samardzija a text saying "that was awesome" regarding Strickland-Harper brawl.— 670 The Score (@670TheScore) May 30, 2017
Jake Arrieta wants his catcher to let him brawl for 10-15 seconds: "If it happens ... I like my chances toe to toe with just about anybody."— 670 The Score (@670TheScore) May 30, 2017
#Cubs' Jake Arrieta doesn't think he'd get to brawl with a batter because he thinks Willson Contreras would outrace the batter to the mound.— 670 The Score (@670TheScore) May 30, 2017
Hoo boy. There’s a lot to deconstruct here; where should I begin?
First, by saying that in no way is a brawl like we saw Sunday afternoon “awesome.” If you haven’t seen the video, here it is:
Why should a fistfight be part of a baseball game? Why should Strickland decide to retaliate for two home runs that were hit nearly three years ago by throwing at the hitter’s back? (Yes, Strickland said he “just wanted to go inside” after the game. What’s he going to say? “Yes, I hate him and I wanted to get back at him and so I threw at him.” Of course he’s going to deny it was intentional.)
There’s no place for this in baseball. Now, or ever, in my view. Did Bryce Harper give Strickland a bit of a staredown during the 2014 division series between the two teams? Maybe, but the answer is: Get him out next time. Here’s a good take:
Harper repeatedly mentioned that Strickland has a World Series ring, and Nats lost the series. Why still harbor a grudge?— Mark Zuckerman (@MarkZuckerman) May 29, 2017
Right. Over. Long over, and certainly not worth starting a brawl over. I can’t say I’m surprised that Jeff Samardzija was one of the first players in the pile. Look who’s in the center of the action in this White Sox/Royals kerfuffle from two years ago:
None of this should happen. Ever. Major League Baseball should institute harsh penalties for any pitcher who deliberately throws at any hitter for any reason. Long suspensions. Financial repercussions. Enough to end this nonsense forever. I’m tired of hearing “the players should police this.” Injuries have happened from brawls like this, and not from the pitch that’s thrown. This isn’t baseball, not the way I’d like to see it played, anyway.
As is usually the case, SB Nation’s Grant Brisbee had an excellent take on this earlier today, which I commend to you. Key paragraph:
The same goes for dumb 2014 baseball tiffs. I can almost understand it if Strickland gave up the homer that allowed the Nationals to advance. As is, the Giants won. Strickland recovered from the acute dingeritis that threatened his career in that postseason. He’s had a solid career. Harper has won an MVP. It’s over. Find something else to be mad about.
I’d extend that to “all” dumb baseball tiffs. Someone hits a key home run off you? Fine, get the guy out the next time. It’s part of the game. Look, I get it, baseball players are fiercely competitive, don’t want to give up key homers, don’t want to be shown up, adrenaline flows, they want to get back at the guy who did it...
Fights are never the right thing to do in a team sport. Beat the other guy on the field, not with your fists.
And to circle back to the reason I wrote this, I’m not a fan of Jake Arrieta’s comments. That brawl was not “awesome.” It was ugly, the worst side of baseball. And those kinds of things need to end. Forever.