Tony La Russa went to law school, and passed the bar exam in … oh, I don’t know if he actually took the bar exam. But he did graduate from law school. So we shouldn’t be surprised by La Russa’s lawyerly defense of his Arizona Diamondbacks in the wake of the Goldy-Cutch Affair.
Here’s my favorite part:
"That to me is what’s surprising and upsetting about how shortsighted this criticism is," La Russa said. "Here’s a team that’s lost three hitters — Hill, Pollock and Goldschmidt — with broken bones. Those pitches should never be thrown up there, never."
Last year’s high profile fracas with the Dodgers and a back and forth with the Brewers earlier this year are cited by some as the D-backs being prone to these type of incidents, but La Russa took issue with that.
"I’m sitting there and I hear Arizona is always in the middle of this," La Russa said. "Is that right? Here’s Arizona, number of hit batsmen by our pitchers — 32. 32. Here are some of the other ones in the league, you’ve got 47s, you’ve got 48s, 42s, 38s. Now does 32 sound to you like a team that’s hitting people? How many of these have we had? A couple, three? You want to start doing your research and see the number of teams that have had issues with each other. Just do the research. If you want to be fair. I don’t see where the Diamondbacks should catch all this [flak] they’re catching."
That Goldschmidt was hit with the Pirates leading by five runs in the ninth inning and where he was hit, La Russa said, makes it worse.
What La Russa’s completely ignoring here — because of course it hurts his defense — is the whole concept of intent. Yes, manslaughter is a terrible thing and it shouldn’t be tolerated … but it’s not nearly as offensive as first-degree murder, and our laws reflect that difference.
Maybe the penalty for hitting a batter should be more severe; maybe he should be granted second base rather than just first base. But there’s a difference between pitching inside and drilling a guy just to make some macho point. Let alone knocking a superstar out of a pennant race.
Unless you’re playing defense. Then, it seems, there’s no difference at all.