Do Braves Owe Mets Retribution?

An eye for an eye?

An eye for an eye?

Since Atlanta Braves right fielder Jason Heyward took the horrific fastball to the jaw from Mets left-handed starter, Jonathan Niese, I’ve done a lot of thinking.  Along with Heyward, I keep thinking about Tim Hudson being maimed a few weeks ago by Mets outfielder Eric Young, Jr., who stepped on the back of Hudson’s foot in a bang-bang play at first.

Young was extremely shook up by the incident and handled it very well.  He was even absolved of all culpability by Hudson and his wife, Kim.  Here’s what Kim said in a Twitter post at the time:

“Can’t say enough great things about the @Mets organization and the way they handled Tim’s injury: players, medical team, security #grateful.”

From all indications, it was a pure accident that Mets starter Jonathan Niese hit Heyward in the face.  There has been no bad blood between Niese and Heyward or the Braves, at least that we know of, and Niese appeared very shaken after the incident happened.

Here’s where it gets a little tricky, though.  We don’t know for an absolute fact that both incidents were accidents or not. Only Niese and Young know what caused those horrific events.

Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me?

Certainly, if there were indications that the events were intentional, Major League Baseball would be levying heavy fines and suspensions.  There are currently no investigations underway for either event, and there probably never will be.

So lets accept that they were both accidents.  Does that means the Braves should move forward and do absolutely nothing?

Let me ask you this…  if your 4-year old daughter was playing at the next door neighbor’s house, and the father accidentally backed over your little girl and broke her leg, and he was extremely apologetic and said all the right things, how would you feel?   Like most of us you would probably accept the man’s apology and move forward, right?

But what if a few weeks later, he accidentally backed over your 6-year old boy and broke his arm?  You gonna turn the other cheek again, accept the man’s apology, and walk away like nothing happened?

Lets talk reality…  sure, it was an accident both times, and the guy apologized.  But after the second accident, would it maybe be time to give the dumb ass a wake-up call so that in the future he pays attention?

  • brp

    I think we’ve been plunking guys lately(Harper), unfortunately our guy got hurt.

    • Lee

      So, are you saying that it is Karma, and the Braves got what they deserved?

    • http://atlantabullpen.com/ Jim Hart

      Good point.

  • dan harvey

    The Braves chances in the post season are really noticeably reduced with the injuries to Hudson and now Heyward. That is tough to swallow, but retaliating in this case would be wrong I think. It is getting to be a lost concept in this day and age, but sportsmanship is still a beautiful thing. That is what I admire so much about Tony Dungy. I hope the Braves exhibit that kind of class even in the light of these jerks hurting them really badly. I have not watched an NBA game in years because of the total lack of it in that league.

    • http://atlantabullpen.com/ Jim Hart

      Dan, I think sportsmanship is great. But at what point are the perpetrators held liable and punished so they pay attention and don’t do it again. That’s what it comes down to in a lot of cases, players not being responsible and paying attention. Sometimes it is just flat out an accident, but not always.

      • Mike Crowe

        Retribution? Absolutely. Look, it’s very clear to me at least that both incidents were accidents, and the Mets’ staff handled everything well. The incident with Huddy was just baseball. Hudson had his foot on that part of the bag that belongs to the baserunner – fine, end of story. The Heyward incident however is different. I’m sure the hit batsman was an accident. Heyward stands a mile from the plate and lunges, and is a perfect candidate to be hit in the head on an up and in riding fastball – hopefully this will change his silly flawed hitting approach. However, if you pitch inside to my man, fine, part of the game, but if you hit him then you’d better expect retaliation, cause that’s also part of the game. So the next time I face the Mets, if I’m pitching, I’m buzzing Mr. Wright’s chin whiskers with an 88mph fastball, so’s he has time to duck. Better the high and tight close shave than to actually hit the good ole boy with a 95mph heater to the ribs in my opinion. Maybe that’s cowardly and not true retribution, but it would send the message and that’s the point. Two of our most effective players down the stretch are out because of what Jim implied as the Mets being unfocused. Whether or not that’s the case, the game has to be respected and the “my man your man” rule is still in effect reguardess of the intent.

        • http://atlantabullpen.com/ Jim Hart

          Mike, thanks for an excellent post and putting everything into perspective. By retribution I think people assumed I was asking if the Braves should seriously hurt a Mets player and that isn’t what I meant. I think that is why Bob got a little carried away.

          Retribution can be something simple as you mentioned, knocking a top Mets player down or maybe even plunking him in the back side. Maybe putting a shoulder into the second baseman as he turned a double play. As you say, the game has to be respected and you have to retaliate to let the other team know you aren’t going to take injuries to your guys lightly. You have to protect your own.

  • BravesBeliever

    My first reaction after reading this article was, as usually, after reading your posts, a hearty and vehement “HELL YEAH!” However, on further reflection, I must say that my measured and thought-out response is, look, we are over 15 games ahead in the division and the last thing we need is a distraction. Yes, some “get back” feels good, soothes the savage beast in me (and I’m sure it would in the Braves) and provides some sense of perceived needed retribution. But, right now what I think the Braves need, more than ever before, is focus on the game and playing the game the way it should be played…the “Braves Way.” This leads me to another quick point in terms of focus. As you may know from my previous posts, one of my pet peeves, of which the Braves are currently guilty at least on a periodic but all to often basis, is bitching about the officiating. I have no doubt that umpires have not given the Braves a fair shake most of the year especially on B’s and S’s- perhaps a product of being the front runner; however, even knowing that, I think the Braves batters and particularly BJ Upton, Schafer and, to some extent, Chris Johnson (but how can you argue with his performance) should spend less time complaining about close strike calls and more time protecting the plate and not taking on close pitches but, rather, getting the bat on the ball even if it costs them a foul strike. MUCH better than striking out. So, these two examples (not seeking retribution and protecting the plate on close strikes) are indicative of what I think the Braves must do to continue to win and even improve on their record: KEEP FOCUSED ON THE GAME AS IT IS, NOT GET DISTRACTED AND PLAY THE GAME THE BRAVES WAY- clean, focused, cerebral, wise and with all the heart that got us here thus far.

    Yes, my emotions, too, tell me we should “give them a lil sompin sompin to think about”; however, I think the big picture far outweighs getting involved in fault-finding and retribution for accidental events. Not sure how I would feel about a third incident, however! HA! Perhaps that’s the answer- third strike and you’re out (sounds kinda baseballish, huh?). Anyway, though I don’t fully agree with the premise, I am ‘feelin’ ya’ and oh, by the way, thanks for another GREAT column and for stoking my thought processes over my emotional reactions!

    • http://atlantabullpen.com/ Jim Hart

      Believer, seems like the emotional side is always arm-wrestling with the rational side, huh? That is how I seem to roll, sounds like you do, too. When I write articles like this it is the emotional side wanting a release and also to see if others are going through the same emotional/rational struggle.

      My concern about what has happened with the Braves is the same as it is driving in Atlanta. WORRYING ABOUT THE OTHER GUY!!!! These teams like the Mets are playing out the string on a lost year and the player’s focus goes in and out and it is okay until somebody gets hurt.

      In real life there’s either lawsuits or the police to keep people paying attention and making them responsible for their actions. In sports, there isn’t.

      I hear you on the balls and strikes and staying focused and I think Fredi will keep the players grounded. They respect him a lot and he’s a real level-headed thinker.

      • BravesBeliever

        Agreed, although the Atlanta traffic analogy fails in that the Darwinian experience of driving in Atlanta would not only drive one to murder rather than a plunking! Ha! Again, nice article, Jim…as always. Great food for thought and there are excellent arguments on both sides of the issue.

        • http://atlantabullpen.com/ Jim Hart

          Ha!! Good point on the traffic!

  • Bill Fox

    Retaliate on the field? No. But just like if my neighbor unintentionally harmed my kids, I’d probably go after him legally to cover all costs of the injury.

    The one thing I haven’t seen anyone bring up is the value of two lost superstars at the hands of the Mets. Can the Braves go after them for any money? I’m sure the players still get paid, but can the braves sue the mets for the remainder of the salaries they have to pay?

    What about with those two guys gone, we don’t make it to the NLCS. Can they sue for lost revenue from ticket sales and lost TV revenue?

    I would love to hear a lawyers view on this.

    • http://atlantabullpen.com/ Jim Hart

      Bill, my guess is that the teams have injury liability covered into the bylaws of the franchise agreement. As we know, everything can be challenged in court, don’t know if this one would be a winner, but I’d be interested in a lawyer’s viewpoint, too.

  • Lee101

    This article is pure bs. I would expect trash like this wrote on behalf of other teams, but not the braves. Maybe you’ve never played baseball, but players do get hurt on freak accidents. There’s no value to any mets player hurting any braves player.

  • Bob Long

    Jim,
    I know it seems that we often disagree. On this point, I think that, like civilized and rational human beings, the Braves should not retaliate. I understand emotions may suggest to do otherwise, but revenge is never the answer. What civilized people do is immediately banish thoughts of revenge (retaliation, vengence, etc) from their minds. Unintended injuries should never bring thoughts of retaliation, regardless of the circumstances.
    Your analogy about one’s neighbors injuring children is missing the point. Carelessness and thoughtlessness are not the issues in play here. Eric Young, Jr. was trying to beat out a close play. John Niese wanted to back Heyward off the plate. Neither of the players were thoughtless, as shown by their play. Neither were careless. Heyward can be pitched inside for an easy ground ball out. Huddy’s foot was ON the bag.
    To even suggest that retaliation should lurk in the back of the minds of the Braves is careless and thoughtless. We (humans) are better than that and should strive to be better than we are.

    • http://atlantabullpen.com/ Jim Hart

      Bob, I think your response is ignorant and asinine. Here’s why:

      When a batter is hit with a pitch, his team often retaliates and hits a player on the other team? Do they know for a FACT that the pitcher intentionally tried to hit batter? No, they don’t, but it HAPPENS ALL THE TIME IN BASEBALL. RIGHT??

      Why is it okay for the batter’s team to seek retribution?? A baseball thrown at 90+ miles per hour is a lethal weapon. When a pitcher intentionally throws at a player for retribution, he is ratcheting up the risk that the player can be seriously hurt.

      Do you sit there on your couch when that happens thinking how careless and thoughtless it is? That is baseball, though and it has been happening for 125+ years. How can you watch and enjoy a sport if you think the fiber of the sport is careless and thoughtless?

      When a guy hits a home run and the pitcher throws at the next batter, potentially injurying him, do you think that careless and thoughtless?

      Anybody who understands baseball, understands that retribution happens all the time in baseball and the circumstances are no different than what happened with the Braves and the Mets. NONE.

      What happened here, though, is that two Braves players actually got seriously hurt.

      • Bob Long

        Jim,

        If memory serves me correctly, they were both accidental (unless you have inside information that you are not relating in this article).

        My use of “careless and thoughtless” was in reference to the neighbor’s driving and your desire for (or at least thoughts of) retribution.

        What “HAPPENS ALL THE TIME IN BASEBALL” is a pitcher throwing at batters, BUT NOT AT THEIR HEAD! Do I agree with it? NO and neither should you. If you enjoy violence and injury, watch boxing. Pitchers throw at batters probably less than 1/10%. That’s more than I appreciate, but perhaps I am not the sadomasochistic type of baseball fan you were addressing in your article.

        • http://atlantabullpen.com/ Jim Hart

          Bob, if you can’t handle the fact that baseball can be a brutal sport and that baseball players sometimes do try to go into second with their spikes high and do throw at guys, then perhaps you should consider figure skating or gymnastics. Retribution is a big part of baseball and that is reality.