It’s safe to say after this week that San Diego Padres manager Andy Green isn’t like most in baseball. That’s because Green spat right in the face of baseball’s unwritten rules. That’s because Green chose not to retaliate against the Chicago Cubs — and then spoke out against the outdated idea that baseball justice comes with a fastball to the back.
For that, I say this: Good for you, Andy Green. We need more like you and we need less retaliation.
This all started with the slide by Chicago Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo that injured San Diego Padres catcher Austin Hedges. The Padres contended it was a “dirty” slide. The league said it broke the rules, but didn’t punish Rizzo. Baseball tradition dictates in that situation that the Padres take justice into their own hands. Or, into their pitcher’s own arm.
This is what I’m talking about in this week’s installment of my Open Mike video series. And Green, to his credit, put his foot down. The Padres wouldn’t be doing that. Not only did it not make baseball sense, but it just doesn’t make sense at all. Here is Green’s exact quote:
What do you accomplish by hitting somebody? You accomplish nothing. You put a man on first base, and you give them an opportunity to win a baseball game. … You don’t, all of a sudden, gain the high, moral ground because you chose to retaliate. You don’t, all of a sudden, get to pound your chest because you were man enough to throw a ball at somebody’s back. I think it’s absolutely asinine to even take that approach.
And if you read that and thought it was just a smokescreen — a little bit of plausible deniability, maybe — then there was this:
Jhoulys Chacin on Anthony Rizzo: "I had a meeting with Andy, and he asked me to give my word I won’t hit him on purpose."
— Dennis Lin (@sdutdennislin) June 21, 2017
Of course, tough guy baseball fans called Green a “coward” or worse for not retaliating, but let’s be real here: Green is exactly right. Hitting Rizzo serves no purpose other than to put the Cubs in position to score a run or hurt Rizzo. It doesn’t exact revenge. There are no points to be kept about who followed the unwritten rules the closest.
(And, psst, that’s probably because the unwritten rules are stupid).
This isn’t necessarily the dawn of a new age of baseball. Managers and players will continue to live by the rules of retaliation. But kudos to the Nationals, who all those weeks ago didn’t retaliate after Hunter Strickland hit Bryce Harper. And kudos to the Mets, who didn’t throw at Yasiel Puig after he admired that home run earlier this week and had the unwritten-rules crowd feeling like Gizmo after a midnight snack.
But maybe Green — who is just 39 and definitely new school — set a good example. And maybe it’ll carry on to another manager. Or one of his coaches or players who eventually becomes a manager. Baseball is so steeped in tradition that this won’t change anytime soon. Still, it’s good to see someone spitting in the face of that tradition every now and again.
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