Thursday, June 4, 2009

Just call him Anti-Yankee Bob! Watson imposes outrageous suspension on A.J. Burnett

I'm spitting mad over A.J. Burnett getting suspended for six games, while the real headhunter of Tuesday's game, Vincente Padilla, gets off with only a fine.

Let me get this straight. Padilla has hit 98 batters since 2000, putting him at a faster HBP pace than even Randy Johnson. The Rangers pitcher has repeatedly targeted Mark Teixeira, ever since Tex hit a homer off him. And he hit Teixeira not once but twice Tuesday night. Padilla's actions apparently so disturbed the Rangers front office that there are reports that the Texas team is planning on putting him on waivers.

Yet the newly-mustachioed Burnett, who didn't hit anybody with his up-and-in pitch to Nelson Cruz in defense of his teammate, is the one getting suspended for six games? Gimme a break.

Why should Burnett be suspended for standing up for Teixeira? It's an outrage. It's not like he had violated any sort of umpire's warning - the umps didn't say anything until after his pitch. And he wasn't thrown out of the game, either. His suspension is completely unjustified. What the heck is Bob Watson thinking?

Red Sox fans derisivelly call MLB's Watson "Yankee Bob," for what they perceive as a bias in favor of his old team. I think Watson's real nickname ought to be Anti-Yankee Bob, or maybe Ranger Rob, for this ridiculous decision. But it's typical of Watson - time after time, he's let other teams like the Red Sox do target practice on Yankee players, but the moment a Yankee retaliates, the way Joba Chamberlain did in 2007, it seems to be an automatic suspension.

Speaking of which, I don't want to hear Sox fans gripe about how Josh Beckett got suspended this year even though he didn't hit anybody, and wasn't thrown out of the game either. It was a very different situation. Beckett threw at Bobby Abreu's head because the Angel called time. When Abreu squawked, Beckett stormed off the mound and walked towards him. Much more aggressive than anything Burnett did.

Burnett is appealing this dopey decision. I hope he wins.

What do you think of MLB suspending A.J. Burnett for six games? Leave us a comment!


nutballgazette said...

Good old Bob will reduce it to 5 games angering Red Sox fans.

Anonymous said...


NAM said...


We agree, we agree! Well, partly. I think a pitcher should show some tendancy to be a head hunter or overly agressive before he is suspended. And I think most pitchers don't aim for the head - it's just going to happen from time to time. I did not see the game or any clips, but from what you described (and I know how objective you are) it does sound like a ridiculous suspension.

As for Beckett, I disagree with your take on what happended that day. As you pointed out, Beckett stayed on the mound until Abreu wouldn't shut his yap about the pitch. This is what you wrote when Youklis got hit by Santana during interleauge play last month:

"When Kevin Youkilis got hit by one of Johan Santana's pitches - it looked like an accident to me - Youk did his usual yippy "Don't you know I am" thing. Then Santana looked like he told Youkilis to go drink a nice steaming cup of "Shut the bleep up"! Good stuff. I've watched the clip three times already!

Like you thought the Youklis hit was an accident, I saw Beckett's throw the same way. And like the Youklis hit, Abreu should have shut his yap as well. I read that even the Ump said time was called way to late (although I don't know where I read that.)

Anyways, the problem with these suspensions and headhunting, etc., is, we, nor MLB know their intentions. Pitchers are going to throw wild picthes on occasion. So what's the league to do? Suspend only Beckett because you can't stand him, but forgive Burnett because he looks like Harrison Ford and is a Yankee.

So yes, as a Red Sox fan I can gripe about the unfairness, just as you can as a Yankee fan. You should watch the clips played one after another of Joba throwing at Youklis and tell me what you think. I for one, don't think Joba does it on purpose. But if you switched the players in those clips to Beckett throwing at Jeter, you would want Beckett thrown in jail.

It's just like my homeowner's association. We want the rules applied to everyone but ourselves.

But still, I think the suspension on AJ Burnett was too much.

Lisa Swan said...

NAM, here's the thing - as Paul O'Neill noted in today's broadcast, A.J. wouldn't have thrown that pitch if it weren't for what Padilla did. And Padilla hit Teixeira not once but twice before Burnett did his retaliation. If MLB suspended both pitchers, that would be one thing, but to basically let Padilla off scot-free is an outrage.

Disagree on the Sox stuff, of course! Would you expect any otherwise? ;)

NAM said...


I agree. Do you think MLB is just reacting to the location of Burnett's pitch?

Lisa Swan said...

NAM, I dunno what MLB is thinking. I say it's more anti-Yankee bias!

NAM said...

It will be interesting to see what happens with the appeal.

Uncle Mike said...

If Padilla is let off the hook for hitting the same player twice and Burnett is suspended for six games for throwing CLOSE to a batter, then something is very wrong.

I'm not saying Bob Watson should be kinder to the team that got him his World Series ring. (Come to think of it, he didn't win a Pennant as a player in Houston but did win one with the Yankees in 1981.)

But I am saying that, as a former hitter (and a good one, too), he should ask what he'd rather face: Getting hit with two pitches or getting ALMOST hit with one. And base his disciplinary decisions based on that.

How about this: In 1965, Giants pitcher Juan Marichal, batting against the Dodgers, claimed to be provoked by catcher John Roseboro throwing the ball back to pitcher Sandy Koufax so that it hit Marichal's ear. Words were exchanged, then Marichal repeatedly tried to hit Roseboro on the head with his bat. He got him enough times to open a two-inch gash on Roseboro's scalp.

When NL President Warren Giles reviewed the situation, he suspended Marichal for eight games -- in other words, two starts. I looked it up: The Giants ended up splitting the two games where his spot in the rotation would have fallen. And the Giants lost the Pennant by two games, so that may have made the difference. (Marichal was also fined $1,750 -- or $11,800 in today's money, but a much bigger proportion of a player's salary back then.)

In a fit of rage, Marichal may have thrown away a Pennant, and appeared to have thrown away what should have been a sure election to the Hall of Fame until Roseboro publicly forgave him... eight games. A.J. Burnett doesn't even hit a batter, only comes close... six games. Vicente Padilla actually does hit a player, twice... not even thrown out of the game he's in, and no suspension and no fine (so far).

Someone want to explain to me why the Yankees always get help from the umpires and league officials? By the way, I'm still mad, 26 years later, about AL President (and former Yankee GM!) Lee MacPhail overturning both the rule and the umpiring crew that correctly called George Brett out in the Pine Tar Game.

Lisa Swan said...

One other thought. Carlos Zambrano's epic meltdown last week,where he bumped an umpire - and destroyed that poor defenseless Gatorade machine - only got him the same suspension as Burnett. How is that fair?

NAM said...

Lisa and Uncle Mike,

I don't want to sound like a broken record, but you seem to gloss over the difference between a batter being hit by pitch and having a 90 mph fast ball thrown at your head. It seem to me, right or wrong, that is what MLB seems to take umbrage with because it could kill someone. Even a meltdown and bumping of an ump, won't kill someone. I'm not saying Burnett's six game suspension isn't excessive for his record as a pitcher, but it seem MLB has lowered its tolerance. Let's see if he gets his reduced.

Paul from Boston said...

I think it is location. I somewhat agree with you Uncle Mike in that it should seem worse to actually be hit (and certainly twice is, well, twice as bad) than to almost be hit. I think if Burnett actually hit him in an "acceptable" location he probably wouldn't have received the suspension.

I don't know if the suspension by itself is as much of an outrage as the fact that Padilla didn't get one too.

Ah, "Yankee Bob" or "Anti-Yankee Bob"...its right up there with FOX and (N)ESPN. We all seem to think the bias is against our team - and the rest of the country thinks its against any team EXCEPT both of ours! Funny how perceptions can be so different.

Uncle Mike said...

NAM suggests that pitches thrown close, if they actually hit someone, could kill someone. You mean like throwing at someone's head? Or hands? Or... throwing a 72-year-old man to the ground BY HIS HEAD?

I'm saying that such an argument would be more acceptable coming from a fan of a team that never employed Pedro Martinez.

Anyway, two out of three from a good Texas team. Bring on the Ray-volution. How's that going, by the way? Huh? Geno? Helloooooooo? Geno, are you there? How's the Ray-volution going?

Mets get swept in Pittsburgh. Where's Rick Pitino when the Mets need him? "Willie Stargell's not walking through that door. Dave Parker's not walking through that door. Bill Madlock's not walking through that door. Roberto Clemente certainly isn't walking through that door!"

Anonymous said...

6 games is a bit much, but he did throw the ball high and tight. It is all about the location in this situation. I am sure that padilla would've been suspended as well, if only he were still on a baseball team!
Hit the guy in the rear end, stay away from the head!

NAM said...


Get help with your Pedro obsession. Maybe you could get some friends and get a group rate.

Uncle Mike said...

NAM, if Roger Clemens had done it to Johnny Pesky, you'd be saying much the same thing. And considering what we know about Clemens, it was certainly possible. Except he didn't do it. For all his flaws, Roger is still a better man than Pedro.

You don't understand: Pedro is the biggest symptom, not the disease itself. The disease is the Red Sox getting away with everything, the Yankees with nothing. You wouldn't get into the ring if the ref was the same one who let you get hit below the belt, while disqualifying you for a punch thrown as the bell was ringing, would you? The rules have to be the same for both sides, or they mean nothing.

Anonymous said...

Uncle Mike wrote

"I'm saying that such an argument would be more acceptable coming from a fan of a team that never employed Pedro Martinez."

How about a fan of a team that employs a roid-raging bat thrower?


NAM said...

Uncle Mike,

I'm sorry. But Theo doesn't call me to clear hirings. My team is who takes the field that day. And sometimes it was Pedro Martinez.

Neither you nor Lisa have commented no the fact that Joba has thrown three times at Youk's head. In your game book of rules, that makes Joba a louse. But you remain silent.

And I think it was very clear in my previous e-mails, that I am just trying to point out to you and Lisa that the MLB is targeting head shots, right or wrong, good or bad.

And I refuse to buy into the notion that the Yankees are the poor red headed step children of the league and everyone's always picking on you. It's a nice theory: If you win, it's because you overcome the conspiracy to keep you down and if you lose, it's because nobody likes you. That's convenient.

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