Minor League Melee & DFTU

Hello again everybody...

We've reached the end of another work-week. The promised-land as it were. Hope your week has gone by quickly and that you have fun plans for the weekend. My plans include an IMAX screening of The Dark Knight. If you're reading this and still haven't seen that movie yet, stop reading and just go see it!

You can thank me later.

As for today's column, I'm going to talk about a brawl last night in a Dayton, Ohio, minor league game that crossed a pretty big line. Then it's the weekly installment of the DFTU!

"A synonym is a word you use when you can't spell the word you first thought of."
- Burt Bacharach, award-winning American pianist and composer

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Last night, there was a brawl in a Class A game in Dayton, Ohio, that resulted in the ejections of 15 players and both managers. Perhaps you saw the video on SportsCenter. If not, read the rest of the description and then go check it out.

I've talked before about batters getting hit and opposing teams responding. And apparently that's what started it. Only the club doing the responding decided to send a couple of messages instead of a straight tit-for-tat exchange. So one manager comes out to argue that the offending pitcher should be tossed, which prompts the opposing manager to come out to defend his player. That's where the video picks up.

The managers start arguing with each other which leads to some pushing and shoving. And then all hell breaks loose. Apparently somebody from the Dayton dugout shouted something, because Peoria pitcher Julio Castillo decided to fire a baseball in the general direction of said dugout. That's right, he reared back and chucked a fastball towards a dugout full of players. Makes perfect sense, no?

The problem was, Castillo didn't account for the adrenaline rush he was feeling. The ball he threw sailed on him. In fact, it sailed over the top of the dugout and drilled a fan who was injured to the point that they were taken to the hospital. The injury was significant enough that the local gendarmes took Castillo into custody after the game and he now faces a count of felonious assault.

Perhaps one of you can point out a previous instance, but this is the first time I've heard of a baseball player being arrested for something that happened in the field of play. And judging by what I'm seeing in the video, I'm all for it.

Look, fights happen in sports. I'm not saying they're right or appropriate, but there's no way you're ever going to completely eliminate them. Minimize them? Sure. But they're not going away and at some level, that has to be accepted. But the moment that those brawls spill over into the ticket-buying public, a very strong line has to be drawn. I understand that Castillo was trying to throw the ball into the dugout, but the fact that his aim was bad doesn't excuse his actions. There's a phrase in the legal world, "intent follows the bullet". It means that it doesn't matter who you were aiming at, if you shoot somebody, you're prosecuted as though you were specifically trying to injure that individual.

In Castillo's case, that means that regardless of where he was trying to throw the ball, he's criminally liable for the damage it caused.

I'm not familiar with the Ohio sentencing guidelines, so I can't really speculate on what kind of criminal punishment Castillo should, or will face. And though I'm sure there will be a civil action as well, I obviously don't know what kind of penalty he's facing there.

But I think it's safe to comment and speculate on what kind of professional penalty he faces. People's first reaction will be to say that the kid should be banned from pro ball permanently. And I can certainly understand that. But I'm not sure that's going to work. Though Castillo's not protected by the Major League Players Union, he does have certain professional legal protections.

If you'll recall there was an incident back in 2006 where current Minnesota Twin Delmon Young (a minor leaguer at the time) was suspended 50 games for having thrown a bat at an umpire. Young had struck out looking and had some words for the umpire afterwards. As he turned to head back to the dugout, the umpire tossed in one last comment. Delmon's response was to toss the bat behind him. It flipped end over end and struck the umpire in the shoulder. The umpire was unhurt, but clearly it was an act that couldn't be tolerated, hence the 50-game suspension.

There were similar calls for Delmon's banishment from professional baseball at that time. But cooler heads prevailed and Delmon's gone on to establish himself as a reasonably well-behaved major leaguer. Based on some media members I've heard from, I won't call him a "model citizen", but neither have there been any incidents anywhere near along the lines of his "bat toss".

My point is that banning a guy for one mistake like this is an over-reaction. Certainly what Castillo did is reprehensible, and a strong message needs to be sent. Using Young's 50-game suspension as a precedent, I'd say Castillo should get somewhere around 100 games. And that suspension would not run concurrently with whatever jail sentence he might receive.

People make mistakes. And sometimes those mistakes have tragic consequences. So yes, I agree with his arrest. And I hope that the injured fan is able to seek compensation for their injuries. But banning him from baseball is a bad idea. If for no other reason that banning him will prevent him from making the kind of money necessary to sufficiently compensate the injured fan!

Feel free to flame me if you disagree!

Next up it's everybody's favorite segment, the Dan's Favorite Teams Update!

Minnesota Twins: The Twins are 55-46, in second place in the AL Central and 2.5 games behind the Chicago White Sox.

Okay, the trip to New York was a disaster. I think that's a fair description when you get swept in 3 games by a combined total of 25-7. I don't know what it is about that ballpark, but the Twins have never fared terribly well there. So in that sense (and really in that sense only) I'm glad they're tearing the joint down.

But in baseball you put a bad series behind you and move on to the next one. For the Twins? The next series is in Cleveland. But even though the Indians are having a rough go of it this year, this won't be an easy one. The Twins start the series facing Indians' ace Cliff Lee. Minnesota beat him the last time they met (a game I attended at the Metrodome). But now they're back at the Jake, and Lee's still 13-2 on the year. Not a gimme by any stretch.

The other intriguing storyline in this series is the return of Cleveland fireballer Fausto Carmona on Sunday. Carmona's been on the DL since July 14th and his presence has certainly been missed. He's the reason that Cleveland was confident enough to deal CC Sabathia to the Brewers in the first place. So that ought to indicate the value he has to the Indians.

So it's not an easy go for the Twins this weekend, but it is an opportunity to shake off the bad mojo from New York. Hopefully they take advantage.

After the weekend series in Cleveland, the Twins return home for a 4-gamer versus the division-leading White Sox. Yeesh. That's a tough stretch. But it'll damned sure be interesting!

Arizona Diamondbacks: The D'backs are 50-51, in first place in the NL West and one game ahead of the L.A. Dodgers.

Under .500 and in first place?! Talk about a back-handed compliment!

But hopefully the tide is turning for the Snakes. They've made a couple of solid additions in IF Tony Clark and RP John Rauch. The offense is finally showing signs of life. The bullpen is still something of a mess, even with the temporary addition of Micah Owings. Give it a week or so and I'm thinking the addition of Rauch will slot the rest of the bullpen into more comfortable roles.

And now they're coming off of a series victory over one of the best teams in the NL, the Chicago Cubs. Now it's time to make some hay inside the incredibly weak NL West. Tonight's the start of a classic West Coast Trip for the D'backs. Okay, it's not as much of a "trip" as it would be for most clubs, but it's still an important road excursion!

They start tonight in San Francisco for 3 against the Giants. Then it's 3 games in San Diego, followed by a critical 4-game set in Los Angeles. No one stretch, or series or even game makes a season. But as stretches go, this one's pretty important.

That's all for today folks. Have a wonderful weekend and I'll be back with more Dark Knight raving on Monday! Until then, thanks for reading!


  1. re: Dark Knight

    I know I'm never going to see this movie, so (in no way thinking of spoiling our friendship) I went and read a spoiler of it. I'll probably pick up the graphic novel(s) sometime, as well.

    As long as I was reading spoilers of movies, I read Wanted, Hancock, and Hellboy2. I like a good story, I just don't usually have 2+ hours to get it delivered.

    So, I got 10 hours of story in about 25 minutes...leaving more time for WoW. :-) :-)

  2. I beg of you, please revise to "Yes, THIS is my readER." Leave the rest of us out of it.

    WoW, my tailfeathers. Honestly. :p