The aspects I hate about baseball tend to be sore spots because of sabermetric angst or rage against half-brained tradition—like not allowing instant replay. One of the things I dislike is the attitude that you have to hit batters for this or that infraction. It seems like if players disrespect your team in the slightest, intentional or otherwise, you should plunk them. Somehow, giving the other team a free baserunner is going to teach them to leave you alone.
I hated when James Shields hit Coco Crisp and when Matt Garza hit Mark Teixeira, so I hate David Price possibly hitting Kevin Youkilis intentionally too. The blood lust in this area towards Youkilis is stunning. In between calling Youkilis a result of inbreeding and joking about how ugly and stupid he is, people think that he was able to imagine and deploy his scheme to harm Casey Kotchman with the utmost precision—right down to having Evan Longoria bobble his ball so the play would be close enough to avoid suspicion. That Youkilis is quite the mastermind.
Truth be told, I was okay with Adam Russell hitting Youkilis last night in the ninth. I get that Price is trying to show that he is a leader and all that, but the situation was ripe for getting back at Youkilis on Wednesday. The game was ostensibly over and Russell has a built-in defense mechanism in that he is 6-foot-10 and willing to wear a pink necklace onto the field. If Youkilis wants to rush the mound, go ahead, I’m sure Russell could handle him and an ejection then suspension hurts the Red Sox more than the Rays. Therein is one of the variables that folks treat as a constant but is actually an independent variable: Youkilis’ reaction. It’s always implied that Youkilis would take his base and that would be that.
Now, Youkilis did take his base after some jawing, but what if he had rushed the mound—or, what if the umpire had ejected Price? Then you lose your ace in the first inning against a loaded lineup and have to rely on Andy Sonnanstine to keep the Rays in the game. Is stacking the deck that high against yourself worth proving your manhood? It’s a false dichotomy to say you have to choose between winning and vengeance, but winning is vengeance, and there is a degree of false security in anticipating a grown man’s reaction to being shown up in front of 20-thousand people.