Look at this week’s column picture.
Try not to get lost in the ocean-blue eyes that draw you in like the tide. Instead, focus on the quarter-inch gash over my right brow.
That’s what happens when a baseball hits you in the face. I was playing backstop during my 8U Little League game when a foul tip caught me before I could catch it.
It brought me to my knees, and the river of blood that poured from the wound nearly brought my little guy to tears. He watched it happen from second base, and he didn’t take his eyes off me the rest of the game.
Me being the #middleagedgangsta, my mother-in-law patched me up, and I coached the rest of the game with a smear of blood on my face. But don’t get it twisted. In the battle between baseball and face, baseball won — just like it always does.
That piece of cork, wrapped in yarn and covered with cowhide, hurts. Hall-of-Fame pitcher Randy Johnson killed a bird with one.
Countless other major league players have been seriously injured by them, and now I’m scared.
So I understand when people take issue with baseball allowing its players to legally use balls as weapons of vengeance.
“If you hit my guy, I’m going to hit one of yours.”
It’s one of baseball’s unwritten rules, and, much like hockey allows fighting, and sovereign nations use nuclear weapons to deter nuclear war, I agree with the practice.
The best way to protect a star player from getting beaned isn’t a potential ejection or even a fine. It’s the knowledge that the other team’s star player is going to be stepping into the same batter’s box at some point, and justice will be painful.
However, as with any code, there are certain limits. When it comes to intentionally hitting someone, the limits are simple: Don’t throw at a player’s head, and you only get one shot at payback.
The Boston Red Sox broke both of those limits in their attempt at getting back at Orioles All-Star third baseman Manny Machado, who has been a target ever since spiking Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia earlier this season.
Boston pitchers have thrown at Machado five times since Manny’s questionable slide forced Boston’s captain to miss a handful of games.
That’s four times too many.
One of those attempts was straight at Manny’s head. In response, Mr. Machado dropped 12 F-bombs in Tuesday’s post-game interview, and I can’t blame him.
Unfortunately, the Red Sox’s treatment of Machado wasn’t nearly as bad as Red Sox Nation’s treatment of Orioles All-Star centerfielder Adam Jones.
Jones, who is one of only 62 African-American players on an MLB Opening Day roster, said this wasn’t the first time Boston fans heckled him with hate speech, but this time was “different.”
“Very unfortunate. I heard there was 59 or 60 ejections tonight in the ballpark. It is what it is, right?” Jones said after the game. “I just go out and play baseball. It’s unfortunate that people need to resort to those type of epithets to degrade another human being.”
The Red Sox organization did apologize for its fans’ behavior, and it’s not fair to paint the Red Sox, or even many of its fans, as racists
But what’s really not fair, or right, is that Jones, or anyone, has to endure this kind of hatred for any reason, and especially not for doing his job.
“I’m trying to make a living for myself and for my family,” Jones said. “The best thing about myself is that I continue to move on, and still play the game hard. Let people be who they are. Let them show their true colors.’’
Based on how Boston’s organization willfully hunted Machado on the field, and how its fans disrespected Jones from the stands, it seems the Red Sox true color is disgusting.
If you have comments on this or anything to do with sports, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or hit me up on Twitter @CTJibber.