Nagy axed for not beaning hitters?
Arizona Diamondbacks general manager Kevin Towers wants everybody to know that he’s a tough guy and he won’t put up with anything other than an "eye for an eye" mentality, specifically on the mound.
On Tuesday, Towers went on Arizona Sports 620’s "Burns and Gambo" radio show and expressed displeasure for his pitchers’ lack of grit. He felt his pitchers didn’t intentionally throw at enough batters this season. Only he did so much more than that.
First on Tuesday, he fired pitching coach Charles Nagy. Nagy, a three-time All-Star in his 14 seasons as a player, had been Arizona’s pitching coach for three seasons. Then on the radio show, he played a stunning game of verbal beanball.
In reference to a late-season 8-1 smackdown the Diamondbacks endured that saw some Dodger players enjoying bananas in the dugout, Towers told 620:
I was sitting behind home plate that game and when it
showed up on the Diamondvision of stuffing bananas down
their throats, I felt like we were a punching bag. Literally, if I would
have had a carton of baseballs I would have fired them into
the dugout from where I was sitting behind home plate.
For those who aren’t familiar with the banana incident. This picture should do the trick.
Puig and Hanley feed King Kong. pic.twitter.com/TUlODWGZKu
— ThinkBlueLA (@Think_BlueLA) September 10, 2013
Towers told 620 that after that game he had a talk with his coaching staff, but apparently could not get his message across:
You’d think the GM comes down and makes it a point to talk to the staff about it …
that we need to start protecting our own and doing things differently. Probably a week
later Goldy gets dinged and no retaliation. It’s like, ‘wait a minute.’
Not that I don’t take any of our guys from a lesser standpoint, but if Goldy’s getting hit,
it’s an eye for an eye … somebody’s going down or somebody’s going to get jackknifed.
Maybe Towers is right. His team did finish a dismal eighth (out of 30) in the majors, hitting only 60 opposing batters. One of those, however, was this tremendous display of fortitude.
This one must have brought a tear to Towers’ eye. That pitch was thrown by perennial macho man, Ian Kennedy, a man Towers traded away to the San Diego Padres only one month later.
Maybe Towers was too intimidated by Kennedy’s display of raw power and brawn. Maybe Towers had no choice but to enforce his own eye-for-an-eye mentality by flexing his big GM muscles to send the pitcher packing.
But Towers said he would get rid of more pitchers, if he could:
Some of them, contractually, it’s tough to move. But I think
come spring training, it will be duly noted that it’s going to be
an eye for an eye and we’re going to protect one another.
If not, if you have options there’s ways to get you out of here
and you don’t follow suit or you don’t feel comfortable doing it,
you probably don’t belong in a Diamondback uniform.
So he’s now made his opinion crystal clear, right? More beaning, or you’re off the team.
Well not quite. After the inevitable backlash his comments received, Towers decided to clarify on his weekly broadcast show on KTAR 620 AM Tuesday afternoon:
I’m not saying hit players on purpose. I’m saying if our hitters are
being made uncomfortable at the plate, we need to be the same way;
we need to make the opposing hitters uncomfortable at the plate and
pitch in with purpose and take that inner third away. I’m talking about
pitching inside effectively with purpose. Sometimes they’re not always
strikes, but you pitch in to a hitter to be able to get the slider down and away.
Sure man, that clarifies what "pitching in" is, but it doesn’t quite do anything to the fact that you said you wanted to fire a carton of baseballs at Dodger players who were just being great friends and feeding each other bananas.
No, in this instance, Towers would have done better having a banana stuffed down his throat.