MLB has handed out the punishments for the string of events that I will refer to as the Lawrie Incident. For those who don’t follow baseball or the Kansas City Royals and are, for some odd reason, still reading this, here’s a recap.
Oakland A’ third baseman Brett Lawrie slid into KC shortstop Alcides Escobar in what Lawrie claims was an attempt to break up a double play. Escobar was on the left side of the base, receiving a throw from third baseman Mike Moustakas. Lawrie slid with his spikes elevated about a foot off the ground and aimed approximately at Escobar’s calf. Lawrie was called out since he missed the bag and Escobar sustained an injury and had to be helped from the field.
Later in the same game, after surrendering some runs and trailing 5-0, Royal’s pitcher Yordano Ventura faced Lawrie and hit him on the wrist guard with a pitch. Lawrie trotted to first base.
Next game, A’s starter Scott Kazmir hit Royal’s CF Lorenzo Cain in the foot with two out in the first of a scoreless game.
Later in the game, when Lawrie was batting, Royal reliever Kelvin Herrera chucked a 100-mph fastball a foot or two behind Lawrie’s head or shoulders. He was promptly and appropriately ejected from the game but then childishly pointed at his head as he gave Lawrie the stink eye while being led off the field. Some interpreted this as a warning the future as in “I could have hit you in the melon had I wanted.” Herrera claimed he was channeling his inner Aretha Franklin and saying “think about the consequences of your actions.”
Now, MLB, in its wisdom, has fined Ventura and suspended Herrera for five games. Escobar missed two games with a mild knee sprain from the incident but played last night against the Twins.
MLB got it wrong. Lawrie walked away from starting the mess with no punishment and no injury. The Royals had their starting Gold Glove shortstop and lead off man miss two games. No telling if this incident will affect him going forward either mentally or physically. Kansas City will also now have to be without one of their key relievers, a situation made worse because closer Greg Holland just went on the DL.
The punishment does nothing to deter Lawrie’s actions. It will only encourage him and others like him who believe that an assault on the basepaths is an acceptable part of baseball. My take is that aggressive base running–breaking up a double play or trying to jostle a ball loose–is fine, but if you injure someone in the process, you need to suffer consequences. Brett Lawrie, desperately trying to make a name for himself as he has been thrust into one of the rarified jobs of a starting major league baseball player, walks away from the damages he created (since he set the whole mess in motion) with only a glancing blow on a padded part of his anatomy from a relatively soft pitch. Given the damage he did, this was not enough.