Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Baseball Shouldn't Even Want to Stop the Fights

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Baseball Shouldn't Even Want to Stop the Fights

Article excerpt

"Very pretty, colonel, but can they fight?"

Donald Sutherland to Robert Ryan in "The Dirty Dozen"

The Chicago Cubs seem a bit too delicate to have caused so great a ruckus against the Pittsburgh Pirates this week, what with managers and pitchers being tossed for both sides to prevent, I suppose, just the sort of thing that happened in Texas between the Chicago White Sox and the Rangers.

In the last game of the series Thursday at Wrigley Field, there was not the least bit of misbehavior. No one was beaned or bumped or even threatened and, while the game sped along very nicely, it had all the spice of paraffin.

So impeccable was the conduct of the seven pitchers - five Cubs and two Pirates - that even Pirates winner Randy Tomlin was treated as if he was one of the Poisons, Big, Little or Ivy.

When the other team's pitcher is walked with the bases empty - every ball outside - it only can mean that either somebody up there is watching or the Cubs are again in middle relief.

Baseball fights may be no more frequent this year than in others, though it does seem that way. Cubs broadcaster Steve Stone recalls there being so many in 1980 he felt obliged to tell Bowie Kuhn how to stop them.

"Third-man-in rule, just like hockey," Stone said. "There are four umpires and if there are only two fighters, one of which doesn't want to fight, four umpires should be able to break it up.

"Anybody comes in after that, two weeks' suspension. Without pay. That will stop it."

Kuhn didn't take Stone's advice then. And if there were a commissioner now, it isn't likely he would, either. Baseball doesn't want to stop fights. Nor should it.

Baseball is already the daintiest of team sports. If you take aggression out of it, it might as well be golf ((which I've always thought could be improved if you had to sink a putt before you were tackled).

The problem is not the fighting - who ever gets hurt in these things? …

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