Saturday’s game between the Twins and the Tigers contained a particular interaction you don’t see very often: a Twins player starting a bench-clearing brawl.
Yeah, that happened—sorta. It’s easy to glance at the altercation today and say Miguel Sano started the fight, but if you look at it, he really didn’t. In fact, I think Sano’s reaction to the entire deal was totally justified, and as a Twins fan who’s been waiting to see more fire from the team, I’m not at all upset. I’m actually glad Sano stuck up for himself.
Let’s look at the facts here.
The whole ordeal really started in the top of the third inning when Twins rookie pitcher Justin Haley hit Tigers rookie batter JaCoby Jones. It happened to be in the face, which is, uh, not good—but everyone seemed to agree Haley did not hit Jones intentionally. Haley had just been called into the game, is also a rookie, and had no reason to be aiming at Jones on purpose, much less at his head or face.
Under the so-called “unwritten rules of baseball”, I guess, this messy and unfortunate pitch called for some sort of retaliation from the Tigers.
And even though this was a case of a rookie pitcher accidentally hitting a rookie batter, the Tigers decided an appropriate retaliation, for some reason, would be trying to plunk the Twins’ best hitter, Miguel Sano.
So the Tigers waited until the bottom of the fifth inning when Sano came up to bat again, and then this happened.
Sano & Boyd ejected after Boyd pitched behind Sano pic.twitter.com/m21DxM5J9M— That Dude (@cjzer0) April 22, 2017
What the hell?
Tigers pitcher Matt Boyd threw behind Sano, a pitch that was obviously meant to hit Sano. The intention was so obvious Boyd was ejected.
Crew chief Mike Everitt statement: "Sano was ejected for throwing a punch at McCann." Boyd ejected for "intentionally throwing" at Sano— Mike Berardino (@MikeBerardino) April 22, 2017
Reporters asked Sano after the game what he had been yelling at Boyd after the pitch. “I only said, ‘Watch out, you don’t have a reason to hit me,’” Sano told them—and he is absolutely right.
The direct altercation with Sano and Tigers catcher James McCann that followed was clearly provoked by McCann, who for some reason felt the need to get up and slap Sano in the face with his mitt.
Sano, understandably, reacted by pushing McCann out of his damn face. I mean, seriously—what was he supposed to do there? Just take it?
Sano explained what happened after the game clearly and calmly in a video taken by the Pioneer Press’s great Mike Berardino.
This all makes sense to me. What doesn’t make sense, is this:
- The first hit was clearly unintentional. How did that justify retaliation? Do the Tigers have any freakin’ brains?
- If you’re going to retaliate for a rookie getting hit by a pitch (by another rookie), why would going after the other team’s best hitter be justified?
- Miguel Sano was never charging the mound. Why did the James McCann and the umpire feel the need to go after him?
- Why the hell did McCann feel the need to push Sano away—in the face—with his catching mitt?
- Most of all: who the hell looks up and down the Twins roster, and says, “Yes, Miguel Sano. He is the one here I want to pick a fight with”?!
Tigers better learn better.