Sometimes, In An Arguement, Nobody Is Right: Dissecting The Braves/Brewers Dustup

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by Kevin Kimmes

I decided to sleep on last night’s game before writing about it at length. It seemed like the sensible thing to do in the wake of an altercation that escalated extremely quickly. Frankly, there was a lot to mull over and digest for something that lasted less than five minutes in total duration, and letting it all settle in, I now think I can discuss it sensibly.

Neither side was without fault in what happened on Wednesday night.

There, I said it. Despite what Atlanta’s fanbase wants to say (and boy were their fans ever speaking their minds on social media Wednesday), their boys are not some universal gate keepers who’ve been anointed with policing all that is right and good about the game of baseball (that’s St. Louis’ job, just ask them). Now, before I get bombarded with hundreds of expletive riddled comments and emails, let me also point out that Gomez’s handling of the situation was not without fault either. I think it’s best to break this down piece by piece.

June 23rd, 2013 (Miller Park) Bottom of the 1st, 2 outs, Braves lead 4-0

The origins of last night’s kerfuffle seem to stem from an incident that happened just over 3 months ago. With two men retired in the bottom of the 1st, Gomez steps to the plate to face Paul Maholm and gets hit by a pitch to the knee. Gomez takes his base and Lucroy steps to the plate.

Whether this is intentional or not appears unclear, however one has to wonder due to Maholm’s history of being with Pittsburgh during a period of time in which Milwaukee absolutely owned them. In his defense, pitching Gomez outside is a huge mistake as he has the power to turn on pitches that don’t make it far enough outside. Your safest bet as a pitcher? Pitch him inside, which this may just have been an off target attempt at.

Now on 1st, Gomez steals 2nd beating out a throw from Braves’ catcher Brian McCann. The reasoning for the steal is two fold: 1) move the runner into scoring postion and 2) test McCann’s ailing arm. At this point in the season, McCann (who had surgery on his throwing shoulder in October of 2012) was suffering from soreness which was impeding his ability to throw out runners at 2nd. The stolen base would be a moot point as Jonathan Lucroy would record the third out and we would move on to the top of the 2nd inning.

Breaking Down The Incident

Carlos’ major infraction in Wednesday’s game was what is commonly referred to as an “unwritten rule” of baseball, in this case spending too much time watching your ball leave the yard. The general feeling is that when you are at the dish, if you crush one, act like you’ve been there before, because if you don’t then it appears that you are trying to show up the pitcher.

In Jason Turbow and Michael Duca’s book The Baseball Codes: Beanballs, Sign Stealing, & Bench-Clearing Brawls: The Unwritten Rules of America’s Pastime the authors frame up the violation as follows:

“Several code violations, however, are universally abhorred. At or near the top of any pitcher’s peeves is the home-run pimp, a hitter who lingers in the batter’s box as the ball soars over the wall.”

Normally the cause for retaliation, Gomez spun convention on it’s ear and used it as retaliation for getting plunked back in June. This, of course just threw gas on a fire that had been smoldering since the teams had last met, and sent Maholm into a tizzy.

“F@#king run, God d$%nit!”, Maholm screamed at Gomez as he lazily rounded the bases. His outrage, now growing as both McCann and Freddie Freeman joined in, was met by a chorus of boos from the sparse crowd in attendance. Not to be outdone, Gomez began chirping back. But it wasn’t over, McCann was about to light the fuse and blow this thing sky high.

Blocking the plate down the 3rd base line, McCann now stood between Gomez and homeplate making it impossible for him to touch the home and score the run. One can only assume that McCann was still thinking about Gomez stealing against him in the June contest and since the gauntlet had already been thrown down, he was going to get his vengeance as well.

Now nose to nose the tension became palpable and the benches cleared. Somewhere out of all this chaos, Reed Johnson found his way to the center of the scrum and threw a haymaker which hit Gomez in the face before he retreating back into the mob.

Johnson’s role in this seems random until you realize that teams commonly have a player that they will use as a dummy in situations such as this for this exact purpose. Johnson’s job, attack the opposition so that they get the message and no starters get served with a suspension or get injured in the process. In this case, Johnson delivered on his orders and got suspended along with Gomez for a game each earlier today.

Repercusions

In the course of the “unwritten rules” this matter should now be closed. So, if you were expecting to see more fireworks come the 2014 season opener, sorry my friend, but you are most likely out of luck. For one thing, McCann, who seemed to take the most offense to Gomez’s actions, is a free agent this offseason meaning he will most likely not be a Brave at the start of 2014 and thus no longer part of the equation.

Additionally, Milwaukee has historically not been a retaliatory organization. Don’t believe me? In 2012, Milwaukee batters were hit more times (90) than any other team in the major leagues. By comparison, Milwaukee pitchers hit the least number of batters (31), thus proving that they don’t believe in retaliation on the whole.

If I am the Braves management, I would be lighting up Maholm, Freeman and McCann for inciting a dangerous situation in a meaningless game. With the playoffs set to start in less than a week, teams have begun resting starters to protect them from accidentally getting injured and potentially damaging a teams run towards the World Series. What Maholm, Freeman and McCann did was selfishly put themselves right in harms way in a game that meant nothing.

Kevin Kimmes is a regular contributor to creamcitycables.com and an MLB Fan Cave Top 52 Finalist. You can follow him on Twitter at @kevinkimmes.

Down On The Farm: Talking Baseball With Brewers Prospects Clint Coulter and Mitch Haniger

by Kevin Kimmes

In the 2012 MLB June Amateur Draft, Milwaukee had the luxury of drafting 3 players in the 1st round: Clint Coulter (27th), Victor Roache (28th) and Mitch Haniger (38th). While Roache will start the season for the AZL Brewers of the Arizona League, both Coulter and Haniger will look to make a name for themselves right here in Wisconsin as members of the defending Midwest League Champion Wisconsin Timber Rattlers.

Last week during the team’s media day, I had the opportunity to talk briefly with both Clint and Mitch about where they come from and what they look to do in 2013.

Source: milb.com

Source: milb.com

Clint Coulter

Milwaukee’s 1st pick in the 2012 draft, Coulter is a catcher considered by many to be the best high school player in the Pacific Northwest. A versatile ball player, Coulter started as a shortstop before being moved to third and eventually landing at catcher due to his strong arm.

“I played every game in the Arizona League at catcher and all through the winter they sent me catching drills to do. All through spring training I caught, so if it’s not catcher I’m really going to be surprised.”

One advantage that Coulter has had right out the gate was having former Major League catcher Tom Lampkin as his high school coach. Lampkin, who played parts of 13 seasons for six different teams, including the Brewers in 1993, helped define the psychological aspects of the position for him.

“I didn’t get to work with him a ton as far as technical aspects of catching, but psychologically we still talk. I just talked to him before I came. He knows that it’s a grind and that he’s been there and done that so he’s been able to talk me through stuff like that.”

Drawing comparisons to catcher Mike Napoli, Coulter says that he based his game around that of Atlanta Braves catcher, Brian McCann.

“He’s definitely a really good catcher as well as a good hitter. In High School I switch hit a little bit, hit a little bit left handed. Now I’ve stuck solely to right handed. But also, it’s the leadership aspect. He’s really respected by his peers. As well as guys like Jason Varitek, he’s got the Captain on his shirt, so if you can be the leader, you’re the catcher, you run the ship. I just want to be that type of guy.”

Photo Courtesy of Author's Personal CollectionMitch Haniger

Milwaukee’s 3rd pick in the 1st round of the 2012 draft, Haniger made a brief appearance with the Timber Rattlers in 2012 before being sidelined with an injury.

“I tore my PCL in my right knee on a bad slide into home plate and then tried to stay in the game. I don’t know if I hurt it worse trying to run to 1st on my next at bat, but that’s when I really felt it and had to come out of the game. I had to go to Arizona for the remaining 3 months of the year and just rehab and get healthy.”

When asked about how the knee is feeling this year, Haniger assured me that it’s feeling good and that he’s faster and stronger than ever before.

As an outfielder, Haniger states that his goals for 2013 are to focus on his defense, throwing, and hitting.

“I want to continue to play good defense and throw guys out from the outfield, continue to have good at bats, hit the ball hard and do what I can to help my team win.”

Additionally, for card collectors out there, it should be noted that Haniger made his initial cardboard appearances with Brewers cards appearing in both 2012 Bowman Draft Picks & Prospects and 2012 Bowman Sterling.

“It’s pretty cool. I signed a few in the offseason, so I think I saw them before anyone else did, but that was pretty cool to finally see my name on a card.”

The Timber Rattlers play their first home game of the 2013 season this evening at 6:35 PM at Fox Cities Stadium. All fans in attendance will receive a Matt Erickson bobblehead.

Kevin Kimmes is a regular contributor to creamcitycables.com and a 2013 MLB Fan Cave Top 52 Finalist. You can follow him on Twitter at @kevinkimmes.