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.