Freeman and McCann did what they had to do in response to Gomez

By now, you have likely heard, seen or read about all that transpired after Carlos Gomez temporarily lost touch with sanity last night.  If you haven’t, here is a story that provides Gomez’s postgame apologetic response and a feel for what both the Braves and Brewers thought of the unnecessary incident that overshadowed the fact that Atlanta is now a half-game back of the Cardinals in the battle for the National League’s best record and home-field advantage.

This story provides the differing accounts that crew chief Dana Demuth and Freddie Freeman had regarding Freeman’s involvement in last night’s benches-clearing incident.  Video seems to support Freeman’s claim that he was simply pushing his way through the pile when he inadvertently struck at least one Brewer with an elbow.

Freeman took a sarcastic tone when he first greeted reporters after last night’s game.

“They said I came in there throwing punches, haymakers all over the place,” Freeman said. “It seemed like it, huh? I had to ice my hands afterwards because it hurt so bad. I didn’t throw one punch.”

Even after having a chance to look at video after the game, said he and his crew, which included Angel Hernandez, Doug Eddings and Paul Nauert, saw things different.  It would be remiss to point out that Hernandez, Eddings and Nauert were the veteran members of the crew (DeMuth was not present) that blatantly botched the review of the seemingly obvious ninth-inning, game-tying home run the A’s hit on May 8 in Cleveland.

“When the group got together, you can see on the video very well, Freeman was overaggressive,” DeMuth said. “Right when he came in, he went boom with an elbow which we saw and it caught the third baseman Ramirez. That right there is just like throwing a punch.  That is overaggressive. That number one calls for an ejection.  What we saw out there was the same as we saw (on video).  There was nobody else that was overly aggressive other than Gomez of course.”

While the Brewers are entering the final days of a miserable season, the Braves are fighting for home-field advantage and attempting to right the ship before the postseason begins.  Thus they certainly can’t afford to have Freeman’s bat out of their lineup because of a suspension.

Truthfully, I can’t see how anybody in their right mind could review what transpired and determine that Freeman deserves to be suspended.  But even if he and Gomez or Reed Johnson, who was the only player who clearly struck Gomez, receive more than a fine from MLB,  suspensions could be appealed, setting up the possibility they would not be served until next season, which coincidentally, begins with the Braves opening up in Milwaukee.

Unfortunately, there is a good chance Brian McCann won’t still be with the Braves next year.  But the veteran catcher certainly further endeared himself to Atlanta fans and his teammates when he stood up for his team by refusing to allow Gomez to reach the plate at the conclusion of his animated venom-filled home trot, that served as a response to being hit in the left leg by Paul Maholm’s 88-mph fastball on June 23.

As Maholm was leaving the stadium last night, he said, “if he had a problem with me hitting him three months ago, he should have done something about it then.”

For many years, the Braves were criticized for being a white-collar club that was seldom involved in incidents like the bizarre one that transpired last night.  But such can’t be said about this year’s club which has proven it does not have a tolerance for being disrespected.

After Bryce Harper pimped a home run on Aug. 6, Julio Teheran dotted Harper’s right hip with the next pitch he threw him, three innings later.  Now McCann for the second time in two weeks, McCann has found himself issuing harsh words to an opposing player at the end of a home run trot.

Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez’s reaction to hitting his first career home run on Sept. 11 should have been viewed as just the youthful, immature actions of a rookie, whose vibrant attitude will prove to be good for baseball for many years to come.  When McCann greeted him at the plate, he was simply sticking up for his pitcher Mike Minor and telling Fernandez that he is going to get somebody hurt if he continues to take his excitement to a level that would be deemed as taunting.

What Gomez did last night was simply inexcusable. I’m not going to say he didn’t have the right to be upset about the fact that June 23 marked the second time Maholm had hit him with a pitch.  That is his prerogative.  But there was no need for the insane approach he took when he strolled to the plate for last night’s first at-bat.

Gomez’s eyes indicated he had lost his mind when he swung and missed the first pitch he saw last night.  Everything that transpired after this confirmed it.

Some catchers might have allowed Gomez to touch the plate before getting nose-to-nose with Gomez.  But as my colleague Richard Justice writes in this column, there isn’t a veteran leader worth a grain of salt that would not have done what McCann did.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

6 Comments

so then why has no veteran leader, in the history of baseball, ever done this before? Are there no leaders in major league history worth their salt? David Ortiz pimps his home runs every single time, is Posada not a leader any more because he never confronted him? Ken Griffey Jr certainly watched a couple here and there, is Pudge not a leader because he didn’t confront him?

You’ve gotta read a little more into it than that, Andrew.

It’s not that there aren’t other leaders. It’s more an issue of how the batter was behaving. Gomez not only showboated the home run, but on the first pitch he was swinging out of his shoes and angrily glaring at Maholm. There was absolutely no reason for that. When batters stare down pitchers in that manner, the other defensive players are going to react to protect their ace. Pure & simple.

Guys like Ortiz or Griffey earned the right to at least momentarily watch a home run fly here & there. They weren’t doing that when they were young players. With Griffey, part of his sort of slow start to his trot was a function of his swing – as a lefty, he was naturally laying the bat down behind him as he turned to head towards first. Lots of left-handed batters look like that when they hit obvious home runs. Nobody considers that showboating.

The ultimate objective in the game of baseball is to touch home base in order to score as many runs as your team can score. The ultimate philosophy upon which our game is based is to play the game right. It’s very simple. One does not hot dog or show boat or conduct themselves in a manner which brings dishonor on the game and undue attention to one’s self at the expense of either your own team mates or even the opposing team. Honor is a deeply important concept in this game. It is what separates the game, to a large extent, from all other sporting events. It is crucial…indispensable to the optimum philosophy of the game. And, sadly, it is a concept that is, more and more, being lost on a greater number of players than ever in our sport today. Some may say this is due to the fact that some players play for a dozen or more teams before their careers end and there is little team loyalty. Some may say that this, in turn, is because of the obscene salaries and matching levels of selfishness among the players. I cannot argue these well-conceived points. However, I would like to think that honor is still held in high admiration among the vast majorities of players of the game. The day that it is not is the day I will no longer watch baseball, a game which I love above all others and always have. Last night, Bryan McCann went a long way at potentially huge cost to himself when, before all the world, he laid himself out there, quite literally, stood up for honor, integrity and the way the game should be played. I, for one, do not believe his bold and beautiful act had to do so much with his loyalty to the Braves- though that point cannot be rationally questioned- as much as it had to do with his loyalty to the game itself. And for that he should receive high praise, though knowing him as I do, I think I can safely say that this would be praise which he would not accept because Bryan McCann would say, “what I did, I did for the game and it is nothing more than any other player who loves the game should and would do.” And he would be right! Last night, Bryan McCann not only did the right thing in this instance but, in keeping with the chief philosophy of baseball (honor), he literally and figuratively demonstrated for the opposing player that he cannot achieve the principle objective of the game (touching home plate) without respecting and honoring that philosophy. And, in doing so, Bryan McCann not only sent a message to his team, the offending player and the opposing team but he sent a simple yet deep, admirable and abiding message which should be celebrated by all who love this game of baseball: “Play RIGHT in our place or you don’t touch home base!”

The ultimate objective in the game of baseball is to touch home base in order to
score as many runs as your team can score. The ultimate philosophy upon which
our game is based is to play the game right. It’s very simple. One does not hot
dog or show boat or conduct themselves in a manner which brings dishonor on the
game and undue attention to one’s self at the expense of either your own team
mates or even the opposing team. Honor is a deeply important concept in this
game. It is what separates the game, to a large extent, from all other sporting
events. It is crucial…indispensable to the optimum philosophy of the game.
And, sadly, it is a concept that is, more and more, being lost on a greater
number of players than ever in our sport today. Some may say this is due to the
fact that some players play for a dozen or more teams before their careers end
and there is little team loyalty. Some may say that this, in turn, is because
of the obscene salaries and matching levels of selfishness among the players. I
cannot argue these well-conceived points. However, I would like to think that
honor is still held in high admiration among the vast majorities of players of
the game. The day that it is not is the day I will no longer watch baseball, a
game which I love above all others and always have. Last night, Bryan McCann
went a long way at potentially huge cost to himself when, before all the world,
he laid himself out there, quite literally, stood up for honor, integrity and
the way the game should be played. I, for one, do not believe his bold and
beautiful act had to do so much with his loyalty to the Braves- though that
point cannot be rationally questioned- as much as it had to do with his loyalty
to the game itself. And for that he should receive high praise, though knowing
him as I do, I think I can safely say that this would be praise which he would
not accept because Bryan McCann would say, “what I did, I did for the game
and it is nothing more than any other player who loves the game should and
would do.” And he would be right! Last night, Bryan McCann not only did the right thing in this instance but, in keeping with the chief philosophy of baseball (honor), he literally and figuratively demonstrated for the opposing player that he cannot achieve the principle objective of the game (touching home plate) without respecting and
honoring that philosophy. And, in doing so, Bryan McCann not only sent a
message to his team, the offending player and the opposing team but he sent a
simple yet deep, admirable and abiding message which should be celebrated by
all who love this game of baseball: “PLAY RIGHT IN OUR PLACE OR YOU DON’T
TOUCH HOME BASE!”

VERY WELL said Sir. I no longer watch pro basketball and football for the showboating. Sometimes I wish plays like a cornerback who runs an inception back and showboats would then have to stand at the center of the 50 yd with a spotlight on him when gets beat by the wide receiver for a TD. It seem they have forgotten this is a TEAM game.

I really hope the team will keep McCann around. We need veteran players that put the team first. Ownership can’t just look at salaries from the money side only. Sometimes there are players that bring intangibles that you just can’t quantify.

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