The picture featured above is the slide that started it all this weekend in the series between the A's and Royals. In the first game of the series Brett Lawrie slid into Alcides Escobar at second in an attempt to break up a double play. The slide resulted in a knee injury to Escobar, which resulted in a pour of anger and emotions from the Royals.
In the unwritten rules of baseball, when someone on the other team does something dirty to one of your teammates you return the hurt. Whether that be sliding into one of their players dirtily or beaming them with a pitch, you let them know what they did will not fly. And that is what Royals pitcher, Yordano Ventura, did the day after the dirty slide. Pictured to the left is the clearing of the benchers after Ventura is tossed for hitting Lawrie. Nothing happened when the benches cleared and the retaliation seemed to have done its due diligence. That is, until game three came around.
In the first inning of game three A's pitcher Scott Kazmir hit Lorenzo Cain in the lower leg with nobody on and 2 outs in the bottom of the first. Unsure if it was intentional or not, home plate umpire warned both benches. This led to an explosion from Royals head coach Ned Yost, which resulted in him being ejected from the game. Lets fast forward to later in the game when 100MPH throwing reliever Kelvin Herrera steps up to the mound. Herrera whizzes a ball inside that backs Lawrie off the plate. He then brings another one behind the head of Lawrie that resulted in Herrera being ejected from the game.
The revenge had already been given to Lawrie in game 2 of the series, Herrera stepped beyond the unwritten rules of baseball and broke them in the process. You never, ever, ever, in the game of baseball intentionally throw at someone's head; no matter what. After throwing at Lawrie and making his way to the dugout, Herrera pointed at his head and allegedly yelled, "When I face you next time I'm hitting you in your head."
Here is my take on the matter.
When all this drama began it started with Lawrie playing hard and trying to break up a double play. The only reason any of this even went down was because Escobar got hurt. If he wouldn't have gotten hurt nobody would have cared about Lawrie's slide. It was not necessarily the cleanest of slides, but the guy was playing hard. You can not fault him for that. With Escobar getting injured and the possibility that the slide was a little excessive, then yes you plunk him the next day. But after Ventura hit Lawrie that should have been the end of it. Herrera, in my opinion, needs to be suspended for a while. Not only did he throw at Lawrie's head unwarranted, but then expressed that he would make sure he hit him in the head the next time. That is wrong. That is ugly for the face of baseball and the Royals. Lawrie paid the price for the slide already, it was over and done. There was no need for Herrera to do what he did.
The upcoming games that the Royals and A's play later this year should bring about some fireworks as well. It will be interesting to see how these teams react.