Rodney suspended 3 games

I’m getting the impression that Bob Watson doesn’t actually review any incidents. Or if he does review it the incident doesn’t actually correlate with the punishment. It’s like he has a roulette wheel that he spins to levy the punishment. In this case Fernando Rodney was suspended 3 games and fined for chucking the ball into the stands on Friday night.

I’ll be the first to admit it was a dumb move on the part of Rodney, and one that should be punished. Rodney didn’t not throw the ball at anyone in particular and he did not throw it with intent to injure. He threw it in frustration skyward and ultimately hit the press box.

I understand that players can’t be taking out their frustrations with a baseball and this is especially true when the ball is directed towards the fans. But a 3 game punishment is excessive and potentially impactful of a pennant race. Earlier this year Bobby Jenks threw a ball at a batter, admitted to throwing the ball at a batter, and received no punishment. I understand the rules for on field personnel and fans need to be different, but intent and potential consequences need to be weighed in both cases.

Hopefully the Rodney appeals(UPDATE: He will). I understand MLB’s sensitivity around the issue, especially in light of the minor league brawl last year where a ball was used as a weapon and it went into the stands. But this was a completely different set of circumstances.

38 Comments

  1. Tbone

    September 8, 2009 at 2:40 pm

    According to Jason Beck, Rodney is appealing the suspension.

    A modest fine seems appropriate but a three game suspension is ridiculous. The gamble here though is that with the Royals and Jays in front of us, now is the best time to take it. We need all hands on deck for the upcoming series with the Twins and ChiSox.

    • Kathy

      September 8, 2009 at 6:57 pm

      Totally agree. Ridiculous!

  2. chrisg219

    September 8, 2009 at 2:49 pm

    I agree. We likely don’t need Captain Crooked Hat for the Royals and Jays. Lyon, Perry, heck even Bondo, should be able to pitch the 9th. (I might even be able to close down the likes of Yuniesky Betancourt.) Bondo may even see this as his Kerry Wood-like opportunity to start a new career.

    • billfer

      September 8, 2009 at 2:58 pm

      I’m thinking Bondo will be back in the rotation next year. I think the pen is a temporary thing.

      • chrisg219

        September 8, 2009 at 3:04 pm

        I sort of hope not. His inablity to not give up runs in the 1st inning drove me nuts. I think it was a psychological issue since I don’t think he had those same issues earlier in his career. Plus, hasn’t DW already filled the “anxiety disorder” SP spot for us?

        • Andre in Chi

          September 8, 2009 at 4:23 pm

          So you’re assuming Bondo has 1st inning issues rather than 1 inning issues? In that case, lets have an “opener” that starts games for Bonderman, not that I think that’s the answer.

          • chrisg219

            September 8, 2009 at 5:07 pm

            As bizarre as that sounds, it might be worth a try early next year. His ERA in the first was almost triple (as I recall) what he had in the other innings on average. It happened so consistently that it seemed like it could be more mental than physical

        • billfer

          September 8, 2009 at 5:14 pm

          It is a ridiculously overblown story. In 2008 he allowed 6 runs in the first inning over his 12 starts. In 2007 he allowed 39 runs in 28 first innings, that was awful. In 2006 he allowed 15 runs in 34 first innings. In 2005 it was 34 runs in 29 starts. In other words, first innings are only problematic in odd numbered years. I’d call that more random variation than a mental issue.

          • chrisg219

            September 8, 2009 at 5:27 pm

            Maybe so, but it seems like even when he didn’t give up runs in the first inning, he was often in trouble and threw too many pitches in the first. I realize that most pitchers need to find a rhythm, a release point and so on, but to me, his issues point more to possible headcase. If they are only occuring in odd years then that still makes his troubles even stranger.

  3. Anson

    September 8, 2009 at 2:59 pm

    Yeah this suspension has me scratching my head. It was a dumb move on Rodney’s part but come on this should be nothing more than a slap on the wrist fine. I wonder how Bob Watson got that job because I’m more than willing to watch baseball and spin a roulette wheel all day for less than he’s making.

  4. Coleman

    September 8, 2009 at 3:39 pm

    OK, stupid punishment; Rodney has never done anything wrong before (I’d give 3 games to Milton Bradley if he did the same thing); it’s completely fine-but-no-suspension territory.

    On top of that it punishes Leyland for disciplining him himself, if that’s what sitting him an extra day is all about.

    However I like it.

    The Tigers should rightly be a bit peeved. And add this to the Porcello treatment, maybe getting a bit of a chip on their shoulder about how the league’s treating them–and we all know the league wants the Yankees or Red Sox to win.

    See where I’m going with this? The Tigers seem to do better as the underdog.I think it greatly helps ward off “we got the division wrapped up” malaise…if only Sheff were around to stir the pot a bit more…

  5. Keith (Mr. X)

    September 8, 2009 at 3:42 pm

    I saw it happen and didn’t think anything of it. I thought it was a nice thing he did. Players throw balls into the stands all the time. More players should do it.

  6. Mark in Chicago

    September 8, 2009 at 3:45 pm

    Knowing the MLB, this ridiculous suspension probably stemmed from the Tigers’ constant wilingness to exceed slot on draft picks. I’m only half-kidding.

  7. jason

    September 8, 2009 at 3:54 pm

    To stir the pot up a bit more… what rule exactly did Rodney break? Are players not allowed to throw balls in the stands? If there really is a rule, how about when players throw foul balls or 3rd outs into the stands? A rule is rule…

    As for the danger, you could argue line drives down the lines are way more dangerous than the ball Rodney chucked into the stands.

    I don’t really think players should be doing this, but I also have never heard of the “throwing balls into the stands” guidelines…

    Seems shady.

    • Jeff

      September 8, 2009 at 7:36 pm

      You have to be kidding. You don’t see the difference between throwing a ball into the stand when people are walking towards the exits and when fans are paying attention to the game and asking for the ball?

      • jason

        September 8, 2009 at 7:48 pm

        so thats the rule? if the fans are paying attention its ok, but if they are not, its against the rules?

        • Jeff

          September 8, 2009 at 7:57 pm

          I don’t know what the rulebook says. I’m talking about common sense. Rodney wasn’t trying to give a fan a souvenir, in contrast to your examples. It can be dangerous to throw a baseball into a crowd of people when nobody’s paying attention, and getting hit in that situation isn’t a risk you should have to assume when you buy a ticket.

  8. Coleman

    September 8, 2009 at 4:00 pm

    I half agree with Mark in Chicago, but only half seriously, so I guess bottom line I quarter agree with him.

    I don’t think the league has it in for the Tigers (though I think it may not be the worst team chemistry thing for the players to think that.

    I do think Watson uses particular cases to make general points–can’t have players throwing balls in the stands; pitchers throwing at batters is getting out of control (the league even mentioned the Yankee-Red Sox beanballs discussing Porcello-Youkilis…as if Porcello should have known better after the Yankees hit batters, as if that had anything to do with anything in the Tiger game).

    And I also don’t believe he would use an incident to make a general point like that if it involved a more “high-profile” player. It’s just a feeling, no stats to back it up, just what I think.

    • Mark in Chicago

      September 8, 2009 at 4:09 pm

      Thanks for your support, Coleman!

      I don’t mean to convey that the league has it in for the Tigers, but I think it’s possible that they are less likely to get the benefit of the doubt on certain matters because of the over-slot bonuses. Whether this is a reflection of that is speculative.

  9. Coleman

    September 8, 2009 at 4:16 pm

    The funny thing about the Porcello-Youkilis bit is that when I looked up the HBP stats I found the top hitting with pitch teams were 1. Boston and 2. New York (the top hit team is easily Cleveland), and that there is a huge difference between the East and Central–basically they are the hitters and we’re the hittees.

    So the “beanball” problem was more of a Yankee-Red Sox problem than a league problem…so make your point by dropping the hammer on the Tigers (don’t forget in addition to the Porcello suspension the E Jack “aggressive attitude” fine).

  10. chrisg219

    September 8, 2009 at 4:18 pm

    We all agree that 3 games is ridiculous, but maybe he appeals it and it gets down to 2? I’d still rather have him miss games against the Royals than someone good. At least, I think I do. Having Rodney “available” for tight games against the Twins isn’t exactly comforting either. I don’t hate the guy but having to go through a ninth inning where he walks schlubs and then has to pitch to M&M is a little hard to bear.

  11. Coleman

    September 8, 2009 at 4:24 pm

    Whether or not it hurts us, or even benefits us, it’s still wrong…who is the league to decide our closer isn’t important? It’s fine for us to do; not them.

    Who on here seriously thinks an “important” closer like Rivera or Papelbon gets 3 days? I just can’t picture that, sorry.

  12. Joey in Portland Or

    September 8, 2009 at 4:24 pm

    Yeah the question is how long will it take to get the appeal? How about doing it today Bob!?

  13. Coleman

    September 8, 2009 at 4:31 pm

    Andre–I actually was advocating that for a while on this very blog–there’s no reason a “relief” pitcher pitching 1 inning to start you off well couldn’t be as valuable as one pitching the 9th inning.

    Although Leyland wouldn’t do that in a hundred years, even if you held his Marlboros hostage…though he did try that weird “shared start” thing with Willis.

  14. Coleman

    September 8, 2009 at 4:37 pm

    Actually a move that could be pure genious–or complete idiocy–would be to make BONDO that 1st inning guy; have him pitch the 1st innings of the Porcello, Robertson, maybe Galarraga starts (the guys who aren’t in danger of lasting beyond 7 anyway because of pitch counts etc)…

    He succeeds, learns to love 1st innings, comes back as a starter next season…

  15. Tbone

    September 8, 2009 at 4:42 pm

    Coleman – excellent point about Rivera and Papelbon. No way those guys would be penalized the same way.

    Bondo in the 1st? We’ve lived that nightmare enough already, haven’t we?

  16. LindaLou

    September 8, 2009 at 4:53 pm

    As far as I’m concerned, they should wait out the appeal until we clinch the division. Sitting 3 then will help prepare Rodney for the playoffs!!

  17. chrisg219

    September 8, 2009 at 4:55 pm

    Apparently, Bondo’s psyche doesn’t allow him to do 1st innings. Watching him settle down after he’s given up his requisite 3 spot in the first is not a scene worth repeating. I think I saw that movie enough times in 07 and 08.

  18. KW

    September 8, 2009 at 6:22 pm

    A lot has been said, but I am going to weigh in anyway…

    I think the punishment was too harsh, but this might help Rodney get his emotions in check. When things start to go bad for him, he looks like he’s going to lose it. That’s not the mentality of a closer.

    While I do think the Red Sox and Yankees are babied a bit by MLB, don’t forget that it was Bob Watson’s henchman who checked in on Francona a few years ago DURING A GAME to make sure he was wearing the appropriate attire in the dugout. Now THAT is ridiculous.

  19. Coleman

    September 8, 2009 at 7:34 pm

    OK, checking on some of the stats I was referring to earlier, I noticed something interesting. The pitching staffs of all of the playoff contenders are above league average on the number of batters hit by pitches (and almost all teams over league average are playoff contenders as well).

    Except for one team. Guess which?

    • Jeff

      September 8, 2009 at 7:39 pm

      If you’re making a case about beanballs (which I believe you were above), you need to look at intentional hbps (which is probably impossible). Better pitchers are generally more likely to pitch inside and more likely to hit people, which doesn’t necessarily have to do with beanballs.

      • Coleman

        September 8, 2009 at 7:55 pm

        My point was more, shall we say, nebulous than that…when the Porcello/Youkilis dustup happened there was all this hand-wringing about the plunking problem in baseball; in reality, if it even was a problem, it was mostly a NY-Boston problem, since they were the two teams hitting batters and getting hit–especially each other. (It actually turns out that LAA and TEX are bigger offenders).

        I agree with your point about pitching inside; that’s why I think there’s a correlation between the teams that hit the most batters and the playoff teams.

        Except the gentlemanly Tigers of course, who have an enormous deficit between how many batters they hit and how many of their batters get hit (which makes it more ironic that Porcello got the Prime Plunking Punishment).

        Difference between batters hit and hit batters:

        The plunkers:
        TEX +24
        LAA +21
        NYY +14
        TOR +14

        The plunked:
        CLE: -38
        DET: -24
        CHW: -16
        OAK: -12

        • Jeff

          September 8, 2009 at 8:01 pm

          Ok. If your point was that mlb was fed up with the beanballs which were largely the NYY/BOS’s responsibility and that Porcello might have been a victim of that, you’re making a reasonable point.

          I don’t think there’s some agenda to protect the yankees and red sox at the expense of the Tigers because it wants those teams to win, though (not sure if it was you who made that point).

          • Coleman

            September 8, 2009 at 8:05 pm

            I agree; although I was saying that a “league’s against us” chip on the Tigers’ shoulder might not be the worst thing for the team right now, since they seem to thrive when they feel like underdogs

            And although I’m sure there’s no agenda, that doesn’t mean they aren’t favored sometimes, in the way that loud home crowds can sometimes sway umpire referee decisions without the umpires/referees being biased in any way.

      • Coleman

        September 8, 2009 at 7:58 pm

        Here’s how many batters the various pitching staffs have hit. While I have already agreed with you that better pitchers pitch inside and probably hit more batters, I should point out that I think that the Tiger pitching staff has some pretty darn good pitchers and they somehow must manage without doing the same it appears:

        Hit batters:
        NYY 63
        BOS 59
        TEX 57
        LAA 54
        TOR 48
        MIN 46

        AL AVG 44

        KCR 43
        BAL 42
        SEA 41
        TBR 38
        CLE 38
        CHW 37
        DET 29
        OAK 27

        (You can see why I think it’s ironic to hear Youkilis whine about how often he gets hit).

  20. Coleman

    September 8, 2009 at 8:42 pm

    OK, this makes the suspension more annoying:

    “Dombrowski also said the length of the suspension was due, in part, to a letter sent to Major League Baseball by the president of the Tampa Bay chapter of the Baseball Writers Association of America. Dombrowski said he was told that the letter from Marc Topkin of the St. Petersburg Times, which he has a copy of, was a “strong” factor in MLB’s decision to suspend Rodney.”

    http://sports.yahoo.com/mlb/ne.....;type=lgns

    (By the way, the Yahoo story had a rarity, an amusing comment–they generally are unreadable. But I had to laugh at one comment that Rodney’s press box toss will “teach reporters not to crowd the keyboard.”)

  21. Stephen

    September 8, 2009 at 8:44 pm

    Man, is there a profession more disreputable than sportswriting?

    • Jerry the Tiger Fan

      September 8, 2009 at 11:35 pm

      More disreputable than sportswriting? I’d say used car salesman and attorneys. So sportswriting is a strong third on the list, especially after that ridiculous story from Rosenberg about Michigan football practices.