As we all enjoy our Memorial Day weekend with our families and friends, a less than amicable duo faced off against each other in the Top of the 8th inning. These two had history, with more beef than the Central Valley community of Coalinga. So it came as no surprise that Hunter Strickland made the first move, plunking Bryce Harper in the side with a 97 MPH fastball. Harper took exception, and pointed the bat right at Strickland, mouthing some less than colorful words.
Then, it was game on. Harper threw his helmet, but missed poorly, spiking the infield grass. Strickland connected with a right, Harper swung a right of his own and missed. Strickland missed with another right, but Harper made a good connection on his last punch. The two traded blows until other players came pouring in to get them out of the fracas. Jeff Samardzija, like a wide receiver making a block on a defender trying to tackle his running back headed to the end zone, took down Michael Morse.
Then came the pile on, and tempers diffused for a moment. That is, until it took several players to restrain Strickland as he was forced off the field. Hunter Pence took the brunt of the defense, as he was face-mushed more then a few times. Mac Williamson was unsuccessful with his single-leg grapple, attempting to subdue a fired up Strickland.
The match ended up in a draw, with both Harper and Strickland being ejected. The real loser here was the Giants, who fell 0-3 in the opener against the Nationals. Here are a couple things we learned from the match…
Posey doesn’t need to explain anything to anybody but Strickland
There seemed to be two distinct lines in this fight, and I’m not talking about our opponents. Buster Posey spectated the entire event and did not attempt to step in once. Ultimately, he felt that the risk of him getting injured was too high. Many fans agreed with Posey, however some saw it as being disloyal to his teammate.
We did not hear much from Strickland regarding Posey’s (lack of) reaction, so the resolution will be behind closed doors. To me, this is what matters the most. I could care less about the opinions of former players, sports pundits, etc. What matters to me is what Strickland thinks, because ultimately that’s what will affect their chemistry.
Posey has a surgically repaired ankle and dealt with a concussion this season, so he doesn’t need to be in the middle of that. Given how many key Giants players are on the DL already, he definitely doesn’t. And who knows? If Posey gets out there and gets injured, then we’re not talking about this. Instead we’d be talking about how foolish it was of Posey to get out there and defend two “children”.
Again, the only person’s opinion that matters is Strickland’s.
Bumgarner isn’t always a hot head
Say what you want, but with Bumgarner on the DL for a shoulder injury, I was pleased to see him head towards the clubhouse. He didn’t get in the middle of it, he didn’t pull players apart, and he didn’t shout and scream from the dugout. He definitely went further into the dugout than Amy G did. I think this speaks leagues about his maturity and responsibility to himself and his team.
Meanwhile, Hunter Pence will be getting a nice fine for heading out of the dugout, even if it was just to restrain Strickland. No doubt we will all be paying attention to that hamstring injury update. I don’t fault Pence for getting out there, but I think he has to realize that his recovery comes first. Much like the Posey deal, if he gets injured out there, we’re talking about his irresponsibility.
Will cooler heads prevail?
It is likely that we won’t see another rematch between Strickland and Harper. There is no doubt that suspensions will be handed out, likely to both parties. The helmet throw is a surefire suspension for Harper, and Strickland’s first pitch fastball to the inside will not be overlooked.
I think ultimately cooler heads will prevail. Both players said their piece in their post-game interviews, and now it’s up to MLB to determine the punishment. Still, it was the most exciting thing to happen in a Giants’ loss in a while.