Why does everything have to be a conspiracy for the Yankees? Derek Jeter has his shoulder separated in an accident in Toronto last year, and players — even their upstanding manager Joe Torre — question whether the Blue Jays catcher may have intentionally driven his shoulder into Jeter’s.
Then Jorge Posada accidentally has his nose broken while sliding into second. The Angels’ shortstop’s relay throw to first in a double-play attempt is low, it ricochets off Posada’s hand and hits him in the face, requiring surgery. And Torre questions why “he had to go so low” with the throw.
Joe was a catcher, maybe he doesn’t realize that it’s a bang-bang, split-second decision — nay, a reaction — in taking the toss from the second baseman, making the pivot, and firing to first in hopes of getting two outs on one pitch. Like there’s any way the Angels middle infielders were thinking, “If we get a double-play ball, I’m going to try to sidearm the throw to first in hopes of embedding the ball in some guy’s face.”
I doubt that.
What to do about Barry Bonds? For some reason, this guy has become the most feared hitter since … I don’t know. Is it the Babe? Is it Ted Williams? Not even Ted Williams was walked this much in his career. There’s talk here and there of whether or not the rules should be — or could be — changed to at least discourage intentional walks, if not outlaw them.
I think there’s a simple solution, along the lines of those who say ban them outright. What MLB can do is make a rule prohibiting catchers from standing up before a pitch has crossed the plate (or at least before it has left the pitcher’s hand). Sort of like making the the catcher’s box (see the June 27, 2000 note) extend upward, rather than just horizontally on the ground. A catcher cannot stand up to call for four balls outside the strike zone. That way, an intentional walk has to start with the pitcher in his crouch. Managers won’t order pitchers to throw three feet outside, because the catcher won’t be able to get to it as easily and it increases the risk of a wild pitch. Because so many intentional walks happen with runners already on base — often on second and/or third — a wild pitch would be very dangerous.
Changing the rule to prevent catchers from standing could essentially do away with the standard intentional walk as we know it and force pitchers to pitch around a batter if they wish to walk him. In doing so, this would increase the chances of a potential mistake — a change up hanging over the heart of the plate that could be crushed into the bleachers. Sure, many of the best control pitchers can fire one six inches outside that Bonds or any other hitter wouldn’t think of touching, but there will still be enough who come close enough to induce swings or throw wild pitches outside or in the dirt. It’ll make the game more exciting and intentional walks less obvious.
At least that’s the way I see it.