We don’t keep these claws retracted.

Last night the Tigers lost to the Royals 5-0, which is a pretty damn disgusting score, considering the Royals pitching. We were fielding a team without Pudge or DaMeat or Plonkers in the lineup, so I suppose one could say there was at least some small measure of explanation, but it really is just inexcusable for even our backups to fail to get anything going against KC. We were putting a lineup with three over-.300 batters (Guillen, Rondell, and Shelton) on the field; they had one (Sweeney). Our starting pitcher has a 4.20 ERA; theirs has a 4.33 ERA. We didn’t run out a single reliever with an ERA over 3.00; they had Leo Nunez’ 6.34 ERA cavorting on the mound for two innings. They might actually be worse at taking a base on balls than we are.

No excuse.

Which is why, of course, I just want to talk about the brawl.

For those who missed it, here’s a quick summary of how it went down:

— Runelvys Hernandez, from here on out referred to as ‘Runny Elves’, hits both Inge and Big Red in the first inning.

— Exceptional Mental Makeup Mike hits a Royal, I think maybe DeJesus, in the second. The umpire issues a warning to everyone.

— Runny Elves throws a pitch in the bottom of the 6th that grazes the toe of Carlos Guillen. Carlos tosses down his bat, takes off his helmet, and steps off to head to first base.

— The home plate umpire points Carlos back into the box, insisting that he had not been touched by the pitch. Carlos is upset, Tram comes out to briefly discuss it, but in the end Carlos puts his helmet back on and goes back to bat again, probably muttering mutinously to himself.

— The next pitch from Runny Elves hits Carlos in the head. Thankfully, on the helmet, although it made a very worrying *crack* noise. Carlos goes down but pops right back up, furious. He heads in the general direction of the mound, spitting mad and vaguely restrained by the home plate umpire and the Royals catcher John Buck who, it must be said, was smirking in a bored fashion while Carlos made his original “that hit me in the foot you imbeciles!” appeal. Whatever, John Buck. Whatever.

— Runny Elves comes down off the mound to taunt Carlos some more, further infuriating all the Tigers, who at this point are pouring off the bench and streaming out of the bullpens in the outfield.

— There’s a good deal of shoving and shouting and Jose Lima almost immediately gets ahold of Carlos and shunts him off towards the back of all the action. Throughout almost the entire rest of the brawl Lima has at least one hand gripping Carlos’ jersey and was absolutely instrumental in keeping Carlos away from the fracas. It really looked like Lima cared a great deal about Carlos not getting hurt or doing anything rash, which is interesting, because Lima used to be a Tiger, but so far as I can tell he has never been on a team with Carlos, nor are they countrymen or anything like that (Lima is Dominican; Carlos is Venezuelan).

–My thought process is something like this: Jose Lima looks fantastic with the bleached hair and the sunglasses. Fantastic.

— Bonderman is the most furious I have ever seen him, and Juan Samuel has to exert all of his power to keep his arms around Bondo’s chest so that Bondo won’t charge off and beat the shit out of someone. Bondo is really struggling to get free, he’s got his heart set on pounding Runny Elves into smithereens. As Bondo is usually somewhat less excitable than a dead carp, this is truly majestic to see.

— Things seem to be settling down. Lima and Mike Sweeney are talking Carlos down, Lima still keeping a hand on Carlos at all times. Bondo is sort of corralled by DaMeat, who seems mostly amused by the entire proceeding. Runny Elves is talking to a big group of Royals and, oddly, Pudge. You can’t really see it from the photo above, but that’s Pudge talking to Runny Elves; he’s mostly obscured behind Leo Nunez. Pudge at this point has his jersey entirely untucked from his belt, so it looks like he’s wearing a nightgown, but I’ve no idea how it happened.

— Runny Elves, in the course of being escorted from the field, says something to Carlos and gestures very distinctly and rudely at him. Carlos explodes again, everyone gets all agitated and worked up. Here’s where it gets fun.

— There’s a huge group of players standing around on the field. At the edge of it, on the left, you can see The Farns straining forward, restrained by bullpen bench coach Lance Parrish. Parrish is not a small man, but he doesn’t really stand a chance, because a second later The Farns breaks free of his grasp. I’m trying to think of people who would stand a good chance of successfully holding The Farns back if he really wanted to break free; there are probably a few, but the names are escaping me. Franklyn German, maybe.

— The Farns runs all the way around the edge of the big group, to the opposite side, with Parrish trailing after him the entire way, probably shouting something along the lines of, “No Kyle! Don’t do it!” The Farns slows for a second, then charges Jeremy Affeldt, LIFTS HIM CLEAR OFF HIS FEET, and PILEDRIVES HIM INTO THE GROUND. I don’t know why he went after Affeldt, no one seems to know… Affeldt denies that he said anything, and The Farns has yet to comment on the event. But common sense would lead you to believe that Affeldt said something, because it wouldn’t make much sense for The Farns to haul off and flatten him for no reason when there were plenty of others Royals closer to his original position.

— My thought process is going something like this: a) OMG THE FARNS THE FARNS THE FARNS! b) Ha ha look at that Royal go down! c) Oh dear, his hot little ass is SO suspended. d) Wow, we went from having 3 viable closers (Urbina, Percy, The Farns) to having none at all (Urbina traded away, Percy injured perhaps irreparably, The Farns surely suspended at some point in the near future).

— A huge group of guys pile on top of The Farns, Affeldt, and Parrish. If you look in the very middle there, you can see a white-suited figure with a number 30 on his back, climbing onto the top of the pile, where he immediately began trying to pry apart whatever players were underneath him. That’s Magglio Ordonez. At this point my eyes are streaming with tears of hilarity and joy.

— My thought process is something like this: No Magglio, your hernia! Think of your hernia, Magglio!!

— The pile is prised apart. There’s a photo going around of Pudge seemingly strangling David DeJesus, but he’s really just pulling him out of the pile. The Farns is ushered out by Matt Stairs, who wraps an arm around The Farns’ waist to grab the back of his jersey. The top of Stairs’ head appears to come up to The Farns’ hip. This combination of Royal and Tiger at least makes some sense, as they were teammates on the Cubs in 2001. The Farns pauses to pant a little and try to restore order to his jersey, which is gapping open to reveal his black underarmor. You probably don’t really want to know my thought process here.

— When The Farns battle began, Bondo had to be restrained by DaMeat, Craig Monroe, and a couple of other Tigers. As things are calming down, he is very firmly held back by Gibby, who holds on like he’s under direct orders to do so. He probably is. I love how the responsibility of babysitting Bondo has been passed around the team– he started out with Juan Samuel, who passed him off to DaMeat, who got some reinforcements and then passed him off to Gibby.

— As the second conflagration is winding down, a third nearly ignites when Alberto Castillo inexplicably tries to start something with Lance Parrish. Castillo claims he was trying to talk to Carlos at the time; this may have caused Lance to dash in and get all “stay away from my player, bitch!” but I’m not really sure what was going on here. This is nipped in the bud by the umpires, who grab Castillo and shove him towards the dugout.

— Runny Elves, Castillo, and Emil Brown are ejected for the Royals, along with manager Buddy Bell. Your guess about what Brown did is as good as mine. The Farns is obviously ejected, along with Bondo, who didn’t seem to throw any actual punches but certainly not from lack of trying. Carlos is also ejected, because I guess he’s got no right to get fed up after being beaned in the head.

Now, here’s what Tigers had to say about Runny Elves throwing at Carlos’ head.

“He just threw that ball right at Carlos Guillen’s head,” Pudge Rodriguez said. “Then he charged at Carlos. It wasn’t right. He did a wrong thing.”

“You don’t miss like that on a lefty,” [Vance] Wilson said. “He’s not a guy who pitches in. He’s not a power guy. It’s bush league. The guy showed his act out there. Anyone that intentionally does something like that is going to deny it. He’s going to protect himself. He can deny it all he wants. That guy pitches down in the zone. He’s not a power guy. If he’s trying to knock a guy back, you don’t do it that high. We saw what happened.”

“I think that’s absolutely wrong, throwing at somebody’s head,” Detroit pitcher Jeremy Bonderman said. “If I hit somebody in the head, I expect someone to do the same thing. You stand up for your teammates because you can end a guy’s career throwing at somebody’s head. He might say he did it on accident, but he still did it. In my opinion, it was totally intentional and you just don’t throw at somebody’s head.”
ESPN game recap

“I don’t really care,” [Brandon Inge] said. “I don’t care if he meant to or not. He’s a guy who’s buzzed my tower before. You can hit me all day along if you keep it below my shoulders. I won’t say a word. Above the shoulders, we’re going to have words, something is going to happen. We’re going to fight. That’s just the way it works in baseball.”

“I have no problem with guys coming inside, brushing guys back, moving our feet, That’s the game of baseball,” [Craig] Monroe said. “But when you start playing with people’s lives, throwing at their heads, throwing 90-some miles per hour, it’s man to man. That’s no accident.”

Runny Elves says that the pitch was not intentional, but of course he says that– if he admitted to an intentional pitch to the head, he’d be suspended for sure and for a good long time. It didn’t really look like retaliation for the earlier beanball, since those happened in the first and second innings, and this was the sixth. It may have been because Runny was annoyed with Carlos for claiming that the previous pitch had hit him and for stepping out to take first base. In any event, if Runny was looking to hit Carlos he should have done it in the leg or the side, not the head. You don’t ever, ever throw at a guy’s head, and you especially don’t throw at a guy’s head and then proceed to taunt him.

Here’s Jose Lima’s explanation of why he was restraining Carlos so assiduously the entire time.

“When I saw the [fracas] I wanted to jump in but I saw Guillen with his helmet and the crowd right there. I told him, ‘1. If you’re going to fight, you’re going to fight me.’ And ‘2. You just came out of knee surgery. Think about your kids. Don’t go out there and jeopardize your career,'” Lima said.
official MLB Royals recap

Like I said before, there wasn’t really any reason for Lima to know Guillen all that well, so this is pretty nice of him. Thumbs up for Lima Time.

Here’s what people had to say about the whole Farnsworth bit.

“I saw some sucker punches,” the Tigers’ Vance Wilson said. “One of their guys just jumped on the pile and started punching.”

Said umpire Dana DeMuth: “There were probably 10 guys in the pile, but all you could see were butts and cleats.”

“We call him [Farnsworth] Superman,” Monroe said. “They’re barking up the wrong tree with him, I can tell you that.”

“That’s the reason why you don’t talk [trash] during a pileup,” Dmitri Young said. “[Affeldt] opened his mouth.”
official MLB Tigers recap

“I was standing there telling [Affeldt] to shut up,” Walker said. “He kept on pestering Farnsworth, pointing his finger and provoking him. He picked the wrong guy. He got bull-rushed.”

Not only did Walker warn Affeldt, but Brandon Inge said Farnsworth himself warned Affeldt three times before going after him.
official MLB Tigers news

“We tried to stop him,” said umpire Dana DeMuth, “and he went around the end and did the tackle.”

“You knew when the big boy got there it was gonna be ON!” -Rod Allen

And here’s what the tacklee, Affeldt, has to say about the matter.

“He was just seeing red, I guess,” Affeldt said.

“The first time we got in a pile, I was bumped by him a little from behind and I just turned to him and said, ‘Hey, hey, hey, take it easy,’ and I just kind of put my hand on his chest and he pushed me a little bit and I pushed him back just to say, ‘Hey, take it easy,'” Affeldt said.

“He asked me if I wanted to fight and I said, ‘No.’ I wasn’t in any mood to fight, really.”

At one point, Affeldt had his neck pinned between Buck and Tigers coach Lance Parrish, who were grappling on top of him. The Tigers’ Magglio Ordonez helpfully pulled Affeldt away.

“And I took a cleat in the mouth just because Magglio was pulling me out,” Affeldt said.
official MLB Royals recap

For one thing, Lance Parrish and John Buck (the Royals catcher) were grappling on the top of the pile? Oh, my god. Oh, happy day! Lance, you rock.

Secondly, OK, Jeremy, whatever you say. Suuuuuure.

No one was seriously injured, although Carlos is still headachey, apparently can’t remember much about the whole thing, and was, according to Lima and Castillo, out of it even when they were trying to hold him back. Tram took a cleat to the thumb, Jamie Walker took a cleat to the leg, and Gator lost a shoe and had his foot stepped on by someone in cleats, which certainly sounds painful, but he says he’s going to try to pitch his next start just the same.

A beautiful, beautiful brawl, and it’s a pity The Farns will almost certainly be suspended. It’s also a pity that it can’t have resulted in some wins, because I just noticed that Chris Spurling laid a small but perfectly formed egg on the mound in Chicago to completely waste Douglass’ good outing and a pretty good outing by the bats and, basically, argh.

I’m going to go watch video of The Farns tackling Affeldt again, because that’s much nicer to look at and think about than this ridiculous losing business.

8 responses to “We don’t keep these claws retracted.

  1. Bonderman looked like a drunk stumbling around the perimeter of a bar fight, all disheveled and whatnot. And that was entertaining and all, but dude really needs to realize that bad, bad things can happen in one of those pileups, and he needs to be one of the guys who just grabs an opposing player and catches up on gossip, not one of the guys throwing punches in a scrum.

  2. Rob, presumably that was why he was being babysat so attentively by, like, half the coaching staff.

  3. Seems like quite the skirmish, but you’re right, the suspensions (particularly to Farnsworth) are probably going to be very troublesome.

  4. AWW Bondo. He wanted to go in there and kill people! That is so cute!
    Sadly, I am serious about that. Normally, I am a pacifist and not so much with the unnecessary violence, but basebrawls make me go “RAAR” and want blood. Glad they held on to him, though. Since our backup closer is going to be suspended for like a squillion games (especially if Bob Watson applies the same heavyhandedness he’s been using with the Red Sox lately), an injured ace would be even worse than usual.
    Speaking of our backup closer:
    // You probably don

  5. Also, upon rereading much later: Damn. I was hoping you’d have the answer to the Emil Brown mystery. I love how there always seems to be someone completely random who gets ejected after a brawl.

  6. thank you for reminding me to watch that, sam. i think i’ll be watching it again. (and again.)

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