Payback Revisited! Don’t Get The Wrong Idea! PLUS: Who’s Gutless?!?!

Loyal Readers and Brewers Fans!

Welcome Back to Your Favorite Brewers Blog!

These next few days your pal Yogi will be on the Road, visiting again the good people in and around Sacramento, CA as well working back in my home that is not my home, Monterey, California.

One of the many events of the weekend reflected upon at length and that requires additional exposition is the matter of Edgar Renteria and the rookie shortstop Mike Fontenot.

Some background is required.

On Friday, June 9, the Cubs played the Braves in Atlanta, and Alfonso Soriano, the Cubs best home run hitter, lit the Braves pitching up for three dingers.

No Good Deed Goes Unpunished.

The Cubs went on to win Friday night’s game 9-1 and on Saturday, the Braves thanked and congratulated Soriano for his outstanding performance by having starter Tim Hudson throw at and hit him on the first pitch of the game.


Small Thanks.

As these things go the natural course of events to follow would be:

A)    The pitcher, Tim Hudson to be ejected
B)    The Cubs throw at the Braves best home run hitter, Andruw Jones



But this did not happen.

In fact, Hudson was not thrown out and no Cubs pitcher threw at any of the Braves on Saturday.

No, it was on Sunday when the Cubs pitcher Ted Lilly threw high and tight at Edgar Renteria, almost hitting him in the head that the business of payback began.

It being a nationally televised game, the umpire Jim Wolf was “miked” and could be heard saying that he anticipated Lilly throwing at Renteria [Why Renteria and not Jones is a mystery] and was prepared to eject Lilly, which he did.

What? You’re Throwing Me Out? What Did I Do?

Now recall Dear Friends how Lou Pinella, he of monumental fits and explosive arguments with umpires, only recently put on a show that cost him four games suspension.

So in this case did Sweet Lou protest Lilly’s ejection?

Not Exactly.

In Fact, Sweet Lou went silent.

And so not-so-quietly did Lilly leave the game, being seen throwing things and shouting in the dugout tunnel.

Still, that should have been that.

The Debt repaid.


Apparently not.

What happened next is strange and certainly inexplicable.

On the next play while running to steal second Renteria slid spikes-up (hard-but-clean) and then proceeded to smash the barely one week old Mike

Fontenot in the head and face (dirty and dangerous.)
Armed And Dangerous.

Everybody saw it.

There was no doubt as to what was Renteria’s intent.

And yet, silence.

There was no eruption from the Cubs bench.

The fiery Pinella did not rush out to the field and demand justice and Renteria’s ejection.

The Cubs veterans let their rookie take a cheap and dangerous shot to the head and face with nary a peep.

And not one of the four umpires who again, like everyone else who clearly saw the play, did anything.

Strange, this.

Joe Morgan, incorrectly I believe, stated that it should have been expected for Renteria to “take it out” on the Cubs middle infielders after he was hit.

But surely that can’t be correct as the account was already settled. Lilly settled Soriano’s beaning and now the teams were even.

Renteria somehow miscalculated and in this case got away with it Big Time.

What kind of message were the Cubs sending their Rookie that they would not “get his back” and let him get the snot knocked out of him and potentially seriously injured without rushing to defend him?

What kind of message was Pinella sending to his team after having put on a poorly-choreographed show two weeks ago over a close, but correct call (that led to an unnecessary suspension) while at this time he sat quietly on the bench doing nothing when his real leadership was needed?

What kind of message were the umpires sending to the Cubs and to all of Baseball by ejecting Lilly and not Renteria, by allowing Renteria to flagrantly strike at another player, with the intent to cause injury, with impunity?

I ask you.

As I said, inexplicable.

Now some may say that all of this “payback” stuff is just a lot of nonsense.

A brief Digression:

I have an acquaintance who was an NHL player.

I asked him once about why fighting is allowed in professional hockey.

His answer, “It’s part of the Game.”

“Only the players can truly police the game and without it someone is going to get hurt.”


There You Have It.

On Monday, this was talked about all day on Chicago Sports Radio.

WSCR 670’s Mike Murphy was his usual superb best.

So too, Steve Stone who said the real problem was that Lilly threw at Renteria’s head. Instead, argued Stone, Lilly should have waited until the fifth or sixth inning to throw at a Braves’ player so that if ejected, he wouldn’t put the pressure on the bullpen to get 25 outs as he did by being ejected in the first inning.

Also, per Stone, Lilly should have thrown at Jones not Renteria, as Jones is the Braves best home run hitter as Soriano is the Cubs best home run hitter.

And lastly but perhaps most important is that Lilly made the cardinal mistake of throwing at Renteria’s head. Rather, the appropriate bean would have been a fastball to his ribs and that would have been that.


A fascinating aside made by Stone was that as Renteria walked to first after getting hit, it was up to Barrett to tell Renteria that the beaning was for Soriano.

And who says baseball is boring?


I mention all this because I did not want you, my Loyal Readers, to think that your pal Yogi approved of, or in any way condoned what Renteria did.

No, what Renteria did was gutless, dangerous, and stupid.

Renteria would never have done such a thing to Derek Jeter, Jose Reyes, or even to David Eckstein.

King David.

Renteria would never have even thought about doing such a thing to anyone, except a green rookie.

The fact that the Cubs other 24 roster members let him get away with it make me think they are gutless, too.

Just sayin’.

Let me close with one more thing Stone said, that he proposed to Bowie Kuhn in 1980 that if baseball wanted to eliminate the bench-clearing brawls they had only invoke hockey’s third-man rule.

If a player leaves the dugout, bullpen, or his position to join in or surround a fight they will be immediately and irrevocably suspended for two weeks or more without pay, no exceptions.

That oughta’ fix it.

The Commissioner’s Office hasn’t gotten back to him yet.


One last thing.

I don’t recall seeing this, but one caller said that when Andruw Jones left the dugout when the benches cleared he was holding a bat.

If true he should be suspended.

Plain and simple.

No discussion.


Oh How The Mighty Have Fallen.


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