It was 4:15AM when I saw the highlights from Sunday’s Angels vs. Tigers game that led to the ejection of Angels’ ace Jered Weaver and manager Mike Scioscia. I was half asleep, having just stumbled out of bed. After watching the highlights, I was so fired up…I felt like I’d had my morning shower and a quadruple shot espresso. Fired up in a good way.
Here’s the readers digest version of what went down. There we so many subplots in this thing, it reads like a damn suspense novel. The two big plots lines? Jered Weaver getting showed up by the Tigers lineup, and Tigers’ ace Justin Verlander’s bid at no-hitter. Here are some summaries from the OC Register. First plotline, Weaver: Weaver felt Magglio Ordonez had spent too much time standing at home plate admiring the flight of his two-run home run off Weaver in the third inning…in the seventh inning when Carlos Guillen took Weaver deep for a solo home run that made it a 3-0 game. Clearly reacting to Weaver’s confrontation with Ordonez, Guillen escalated things, posing at home plate, flipping his bat away and hopping before starting his home run trot. Weaver’s next pitch (after both benches had been warned about potential retaliation) was a 92-mph fastball over Avila’s head. Weaver (and Angels manager Mike Scioscia) were immediately ejected. Video of Guillen’s home run and taunt here.
Second plotline, Aybar: Angels shortstop Erick Aybar drew fire as well after he led off the eighth inning with a bunt. Verlander didn’t feel that was an appropriate tactic with the no-hitter in play. But he was especially angered by what he says was an elbow Aybar threw in Verlander’s chest as he was scoring on a botched rundown later in the eighth. “Aybar bunted on me and threw a little jab at me there, coming home,” Verlander said. “I did about as good a job as I could do keeping my emotions in check. I was standing in the baseline and the throw was getting there (as Aybar ran by) at the same time. He could have really chucked me – or tried to. … I didn’t realize until I was walking back to the mound. Then I was, ‘That guy hit me. Unbelievable.'” Verlander could be seen gesturing at Aybar in the Angels’ dugout. “I had something to say to him,” Verlander said after the game. “We’re both men. This game has a tendency to work things out. No reason to say or do anything drastic at this time.” After the game, Aybar said Verlander threatened him. “He pointed to me in the dugout and said, ‘I’m going to hit you next year,'” Aybar said. “All right, come get me.”
Everybody’s got an opinion on this… the only difference is that mine is better. I loved every second of what when down during this game. Everybody challenging baseball’s “unwritten rules”. Was Ordonez really showboating or just checking to see if ball was going to stay fair? Of course that’s what he’ll say, and of course Weaver will say he was admiring. Weaver’s human, he’s pissed. Next time, Weaver gets him out… they exchange a few words. Case closed, right? Not a chance. Enter Guillen. He just crushed a ball off Weaver, and taunts… he felt Weaver should’ve backed his buddy Ordonez, and he was letting Weaver know. So, he showboated… a lot. Love it. Weaver? Not so much. Up comes Avila, and boogity, boogity, boogity… 92 MPH fastball at your head.
Now, I hear the criticism people are giving, but I’m not buying it. I know the rule. If you’re gonna retaliate and throw at somebody, don’t throw at their head. Well, there’s another rule… if you’re gonna throw at somebody in retaliation, do it the next pitch. I guarantee you that Avila knew Weaver was gonna throw at him before Weaver even decided to do it. He should send him a thank you for being obvious about it. Weaver was pissed, and rightfully so… Avila was pissed, Magglio was pissed, Guillen was pissed, Scioscia was pissed, Leyland was pissed…and here comes Aybar with a bunt in the 8th, and now Verlander’s pissed. This is great. Everybody’s pissed! And guess what, they all have a right to be. They’re competitors, they’re teammates, and they are passionate and loyal. Get pissed. Good for you and good for the game. Verlander thought Aybar was ‘bush league’ and I say that comment is ‘bush league’. The dude bunts as part of his freakin’ game… it’s not like it was a blowout. This was a tight game and they were trying to win. Hell, they clearly couldn’t hit his pitches, why not try to bunt? He was bunting to win, not to break up a no-hitter. Oh, and the shoulder bump between Verlander and Aybar? Awesome. Keep it up. I swear, if we had more games like this… baseball would’ve never needed McGwire and Sosa and their steroid infused home run battle to revive it. There would’ve been no need for a revival…everybody would have loved watching.
Torii Hunter came out and said the politically correct thing, which I’m fine with… whatever. “All that is stupid,” Angels outfielder Torii Hunter said. “Everybody was stupid. That was unprofessional on both sides.” Where’s the fun in that, Torii? I know, I know, easy for me to say when I don’t have to go up to the plate and get thrown at. Not even kidding though, I want to go watch this game on DVR. Two Cy Young front-runners battling, huge home runs with taunting, a near no-hitter, multiple ejections, bench warnings, shoulder bumps, batters getting thrown at, players screaming at each other and pointing fingers, bunt singles, wild throws, tempters flaring. Just freaking awesome. All this talk about the unwritten rules of baseball and how everybody needs to follow them. In reality, they were following what I think is the most important unwritten rule. Play hard and if you think you or your teammate is being wronged… go make it right. So cheers to you Angels, and cheers to you Tigers… kick some ass.
(a little side note here for fellow Padres fans: if this had been Mat Latos, instead of Jered Weaver, the national media would absolutely crucify him. Total double standard. There would be no “do you think it was okay? let’s debate this” crap. Everybody would just be flipping their shit on Latos because he has tattoos and shows emotions out there on the mound. pisses me off. national media effers. you know who you are.)