Political Correctness Invades Baseball

This column was originally going to focus primarily on the intentional plunking of hitters by pitchers in certain situations, and the "basebrawls" such intentional plunkings strongly tend to provoke.

But then along came the decision to suspend White Sox shortstop Tim Anderson for one game — not for flipping his bat after having hit a home run off Royals pitcher Brad Keller in the fourth inning of their game last Wednesday (Anderson had also done the same thing in a game against the Royals in April of last year), but for directing not only a politically incorrect, but factually inaccurate slur at Keller (just what we need, speech codes in sports — see Roy Hibbert), after Keller let Anderson have it with a 92-mile-per-hour fastball when Anderson next came to the plate after the bat-flipping, in the sixth. Yet give Keller credit for throwing the aforementioned missile at Anderson's "arse" as they say across the pond rather than at his head.

And what about the "basebrawls" themselves? Are they not as American as hockey fights are Canadian?

The fight between Paul O'Neill of the Yankees and the late John Marzano of the Mariners on August 28, 1996 is the stuff that legends are made of, as have been the brawls between the Yankees and the Red Sox that are too numerous to even catalogue here.

As for hockey, what would it be without its legendary fights, which were so frequent during the "Original Six" era that the teams were thoroughly exhausted by the time the playoffs rolled around, leading to so many upsets therein that many regarded winning the Prince of Wales Trophy, which went to the regular-season first-place finisher, as a feat almost on a par with winning the STAN-ley cup, as Canadians insist on pronouncing it?

In hockey, as in baseball, the New York (Rangers) and Boston teams were the most prolific pugilists, although after the Original Six era the Flyers brawled themselves to back-to-back Stanley Cups in the mid-'70s — and the 1977-78 Stanley Cup finals played host to perhaps the most famous hockey fight in history, when Stan Jonathan of the Bruins pummeled Pierre Bouchard of the Canadiens so severely that Bouchard emerged with both a broken nose and cheekbone, despite Jonathan having conceded four inches in height and 30 pounds in weight to Bouchard (Jonathan is also a full-blooded Tuscarora Indian — which arguably gave Jonathan an advantage in playing hockey, if not necessarily in fighting, as it was the Native Americans who invented the game).

But back to baseball and its inherent hypocrisy for marketing the slogan "Let the Kids Play" and then turning around and fining or even suspending the adults when they do just that — even if, in Tim Anderson's case, there was (apparently) an extenuating circumstance that allowed baseball to hide behind political correctness. (Baseball is also hypocritical for dealing with retaliators far more harshly than with instigators: if one team throws a beanball and then the other team does so, both the second team's pitcher and its manager gets ejected from the game).

And doesn't "Let the Kids Play" at least tacitly imply that the kids should be allowed to enforce baseball's hallowed "unwritten rules," as well as flip their bats after hitting a home run, or stand at home plate and "admire" a home run before starting to round the bases?

Maybe these kids aren't such snowflakes after all.

Just don't say anything politically incorrect, boys.

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