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Today’s hitters would hate the pitchers of yesteryear

Baseball players today wouldn’t like Bob Gibson, Don Drysdale, Jim Maloney, etc. Those former pitchers were big, strong, mean, and they threw very hard and with a purpose. And they didn’t mind throwing hard right at a batter.

A batter knew better than to showboat after getting a hit off those guys. Gibson said the inside part of the plate belongs to the batter, the outside belongs to him and if you crowded the plate trying to take away his side, you could expect a bruised rib sometime in the near future.

Last week Detroit’s Carlos Guillen hit a home run and began trotting along the first base line glaring at Jared Weaver, gesturing with his arms as if to say, “See that? I took you deep. You ain’t so tough.”

Weaver doesn’t glare and dance at Guillen or any other hitter when he gets them out, so why does the batter think it’s okay to try and show up the pitcher? Weaver threw the next pitch well over the head of Alex Avila and was tossed from the game. He later drew a fine and suspension from the American League office.

To me Weaver’s biggest mistake was throwing well over the head of Avila after Guillen showed him up. Forget Avila. Wait until Guillen comes up again and then drill him in the thigh. It’ll be sore for a few days but it won’t prevent him from playing.

Years ago if a player hit a home run the next batter could almost expect to get knocked down with the next pitch.

The Cardinals and Brewers had a similar situation last week when Takashi Saito threw tight on Albert Pujols and plunked him on the hand.

Pujols missed several weeks because of a broken hand. Cardinals’ manager Tony La Russa was upset the Brewers followed their scouting reports to pitch inside to Pujols in an effort to get him out.

What the Brewers didn’t know was La Russa doesn’t allow opposing pitchers to throw inside to Pujols especially now that he was injured and missed some games.

No one is intentionally trying to hit Pujols. Pitchers do not possess that kind of pinpoint control. If they did, batters might never get a hit.

There may be an occasion when a pitch gets away, but most of the time you can tell if a pitcher is trying to hit someone or deliver a purpose pitch. But to say a pitcher should never hit anyone and always have perfect control is ridiculous.

But La Russa was right on one thing. Don’t pitch up and in. I don’t think a pitcher should ever throw a purpose pitch above the waist. A ball in the thigh or just a brushback pitch around the belt is good enough. A baseball traveling at 90 or more miles an hour is dangerous enough when a pitcher is trying to throw a strike.

La Russa had his pitcher Jason Motte retaliate by throwing inside to the Brewers’ star hitter Ryan Braun. However, La Russa had his guy throw at Braun not once, but twice. When the second pitch hit Braun, La Russa defended the tactic by saying Braun should have dodged the second attempt and the matter would have been over.

Weaver threw his purpose pitch not only above the waist but well over Avila’s head. There was no danger whatsoever of Avila getting hit or hurt and it sent the message to quit showboating.

And let’s not forget about how umpires are so quick to pull the trigger on these situations. The ejection was a huge overreaction. The fans paid to see Weaver pitch, not have an umpire throw him out for an obvious purpose pitch that was in no way a danger to anyone.

If an umpire threw Gibson or Drysdale out of a game for throwing a pitch like that, they better be careful the next time they were behind the plate with them pitching. They would throw a fastball at the umpire’s mask and tell the catcher to miss the ball.

I wonder how Tony La Russa would handle managing against those old school pitchers?

— Sinatra —

Jim Walker is sports editor of The Ironton Tribune.