Venters gets docked and Braves fans vent: Spare me, I say

Prince Fielder gets a hug from Angel Hernandez. (AP photo)

Prince Fielder gets a hug from Angel Hernandez. (AP photo)

I know from my Twitter feed that Braves fans are irate over the four-game suspension dealt Jonny Venters for plunking Prince Fielder — oddly enough, nobody seems all that miffed that Bobby Cox also gets docked a game — but here’s where I play Bad Cop and say, “Come on now. What did you expect?”

We’ll never know if Venters meant to dust Fielder on Saturday — MLB has QuesTek to assess balls and strikes but cannot yet read minds — but these things aren’t about intentions as much as appearances. And you’ll have to admit it looks pretty fishy when …

A player hits a home run and, his next trip up, is greeted by a pitch over his head. (The Braves’ defense of Venters goes thusly: It was a slider, and you don’t send a message with an 84-mph breaking ball.) The plate umpire then warns both teams not to throw at anybody else. And the very next pitch …

Drills the Prince in the back.

The moral of our story: If you’re going to hit a guy, try not to do it with the first pitch after a warning. That attracts attention. It all but forces a reaction from both the other team — two Braves were hit by Brewers’ pitching Sunday, including Jason Heyward with what turned out to be starter Manny Parra’s final delivery of the day — and from MLB.

Brewers manager Ken Macha griped after Saturday’s game that his hitters were being targeted, and umpires can hear/read. Surely that’s how Milwaukee’s David Riske got away with not being ejected when he drilled Troy Glaus on Sunday two batters after both teams had again been warned. According to Cox, plate umpire Scott Barry said he didn’t think Riske meant to hit Glaus.

And that tells us this umpiring crew — which also features Angel Hernandez, who ejected Cox and Venters on Saturday, and Cowboy Joe West — believed the Brewers had a case. (Fielder had also been hit on Friday by Tommy Hanson after Ryan Braun hit a home run.) As it happened, Milwaukee pitchers hit three Braves in the series to Atlanta’s two, but Venters’ two pitches were the ones everyone remembered.

And I know Braves fans will cry conspiracy — the commissioner lives in Milwaukee, remember — and will cite this as further proof the umps have been out to get this team for the past two decades, but every team’s fans feel exactly the same way. Except maybe the Brewers. They know Bud Selig will protect them. That’s why Milwaukee has won 14 consecutive division titles. (Wait. You say it hasn’t?)

Chances are Venters will appeal his suspension, and chances are it’ll get reduced a game, maybe two. But let’s not go all Pollyanna and pretend the good-guy Braves would never ever stoop so low as to hit somebody on purpose. Because sometimes they do.

I’m not saying that’s what happened with Fielder. I’m only saying it does happen. It’s part of the game. And now we move on.

236 comments Add your comment

JVENT

July 19th, 2010
5:26 pm

I wish I could hit you with a pitch Mark Bradley

Josh Kinsey

July 19th, 2010
5:26 pm

First!! Follow me at @jkinsey60!!

matt r

July 19th, 2010
5:26 pm

Yeah pretty dopey to hit him right after the warning.

Josh Kinsey

July 19th, 2010
5:27 pm

Dang!! Second! Still love the work MB!

Mark Bradley

July 19th, 2010
5:28 pm

Actually second, Josh Kinsey. But I’ll still follow you on Twitter.

ThePriceisWrongBitch!

July 19th, 2010
5:32 pm

Part of the game. They might as well be playing softball now. MLB and the players need to grow a pair!

wjones

July 19th, 2010
5:33 pm

Prince Fielder has been hit MANY times this year by MANY teams. And why not? He crowds the plate,sprawls out in the batter’s box, and weighs close to 300 pounds. How could you NOT hit him?

Peter

July 19th, 2010
5:34 pm

Hey Mark…….come on now you have had to seen Venters throw to the back stop at least 3 – 4 times this year……. he is crazy wild !

Mark Bradley

July 19th, 2010
5:34 pm

Well, you make a valid point, wjones. Prince cuts a wide swath.

USMC DAWG

July 19th, 2010
5:36 pm

On a different note… Didn’t MLB institute a conditioning or some type of physical to keep MLB umpires in respectable looking shape? If so, how the hell does Joe West still have a job? I thought they were trying to get rid of these Eric Gregg and John McSherry look alikes.

Nick

July 19th, 2010
5:36 pm

Not arguing the suspensions, just think that the pitcher for the Brewers should have been tossed. We have a manager saying they did not intentionally hit a guy and he gets suspended, then we have a pitcher who hits our guy and the ump says it was not on purpose.

Thought the purpose of a warning was so the ump did not have to worry about intent?! Hit batter means tossed pitcher and manager. Who cares if he meant to or not. The fact of the matter is he hit a batter after there was a warning. Ejection. End of story.

Kennesaw Braves Fan

July 19th, 2010
5:36 pm

Pretty candy a– if you ask me. No way you eject and then suspend the Braves guys and then let the Brewers guy go when he plunks right after a warning. Even if the warning yesterday was stupid at the time, if you warn, then you have to back it up. Just like the night before. Of course we all know these umpire Gods can read minds. Because there are Gods. If you don’t believe me just ask them. They are bigger then the game. Bet you bottom dollar it has everything to do with Selig and it being the Brewers. Next time we play them, first pitch to the ear hole.

ThePriceisWrongBitch!

July 19th, 2010
5:37 pm

I really like watching Princess get hit anyway. At least Venters will get some rest.

Kennesaw Braves Fan

July 19th, 2010
5:38 pm

Where did my post go???

Bob in SF

July 19th, 2010
5:39 pm

The 4 games Venters got is cheap capital for the respect it will earn him in the clubhouse and around the league. Fielder gets hit a lot anyway; he camps on the plate and has his softball player beer gut hanging in the strike zone. Getting hit shouldn’t bother him but getting drilled between the numbers is a different story. Even Joe Simpson who is paid to be a homer said it was intentional. I only wish guys would be more old school and admit they pegged someone instead of trying to say they missed. BTW I don’t think Fielder got hit for the homer as much for his display after; standing up on his tip toes, waving the bat in the air and the exaggerated trot. Maybe if Prince didn’t slather so much mustard on the hot dog he wouldn’t have to cry about getting hit so much.

Mark Bradley

July 19th, 2010
5:39 pm

Sorry, Kennesaw. It got caught in the filter. But it shall be released.

JTH

July 19th, 2010
5:40 pm

Milwaaaaaaauke and Prince make doves cry in the purple rain.

Peter

July 19th, 2010
5:41 pm

Mark….have you seen Venters pitch ? Have you seen the pitches go to the screen before ?

JTH

July 19th, 2010
5:41 pm

I don’t know what that means either, but MilWAAAAAAAAukee.

Stephen

July 19th, 2010
5:41 pm

My only gripe about it is this… Why the crap wasn’t it Jessie Chavez that hit him instead of Venters?! I’d LOVE to see Chavez get a long… long… long term suspension!

will

July 19th, 2010
5:42 pm

mark, of course it was intentional. do you really think if the braves were still winning after those players hit home runs that they would have been plunked afterward? …don’t think so. i, for one, think it shows pathetically poor sportsmanship and am glad venters and cox got ejected.

go braves though, hopefully we can take care of business w/ sd with a little more talent and class this week.

Nick

July 19th, 2010
5:42 pm

Prince is a vegetarian last I checked Bob…

extremus

July 19th, 2010
5:42 pm

Ah, it’s frustrating and I think a bit overreactive as far as the length of the suspension for Venters. I personally doubt the Braves were intentionally hitting Milwaukee batters, though I understand the decision is borne out of a sense of preventative measure; they don’t want somebody getting seriously hurt either by a pitch or a resulting altercation, so MLB chose to err on the side of caution. Hopefully Venters and Cox can get the suspensions behind them without it being too much of a detriment to the team, and then get back to business and trying to win a championship.

Bob in SF

July 19th, 2010
5:43 pm

Nick: vegetarians don’t have bodies like that! ;)

Kennesaw Braves Fan

July 19th, 2010
5:43 pm

So is Venters out for the SD series? Or will an appeal delay that?

mike

July 19th, 2010
5:44 pm

They need the four games to find the ball in Fielder’s gut

Nick

July 19th, 2010
5:44 pm

Bob: Protein shakes maybe?

Lots of protein shakes?!

Kennesaw Braves Fan

July 19th, 2010
5:44 pm

Will, you a YMCA soccer fan or something?

rave1914

July 19th, 2010
5:46 pm

they shudda hit him sunday…i was cheering “hit em again, hit em again, harder. harder.” and i’m still grateful for them free bleacher seats his dad used to give out to tiger stadium.

Peter

July 19th, 2010
5:47 pm

IF MLB error-ed on the side of caution….the Brewers would have gotten thrown out on SUNDAY !

All about favoritism !!!!!!! Selig did own the Brewers as we all KNOW !

DollarDawg43

July 19th, 2010
5:48 pm

Bob in SF is right. It wasn’t the dinger but the dance. Don’t think for a minute that went unnoticed in the Braves dugout.

Joe Smoe

July 19th, 2010
5:48 pm

MB. Most scouting reports say to pitch Prince Fielder high and inside. When a guy is as big as Prince crowds a plate, and chases inside balls like crazy… your going to hit him from time to time. Venters did the right thing and if you have watched the replays you can tell he wasn’t pitching at 100%. All it takes is Fielder to slightly turn away to get hit in the back.

Do you honestly feel Bobby would have gone to talk with the Brewers after Saturdays game if a intentional issue had occurred?

FYI: Prince Fielder is 3rd in the NL this year for hit by pitch. He is currently well on his way to a career high for them as well.

Bob in SF

July 19th, 2010
5:49 pm

Nick: That reminds me of one of my favorite quotes from the ‘roids era. Someone asked Jeff Bagwell how he got so big and he said “Lots of steak. You can’t get big eating salad.” Not implying Bags was putting things into his body other than steak at all…

"Chef" Tim Dix

July 19th, 2010
5:50 pm

He merely hit the Princes, “Sail”. Prince wasn’t quick to visit the Vent I may add.

BTW, what about ALL the Prado taggings, huh?

Michael

July 19th, 2010
5:50 pm

I just don’t get the double standard between the two games. How can anybody tell whether a pitcher meant to hit a batter? These umps do well enough to get balls, strikes and outs correct. Now they’re mind-readers?

As far as the Braves being “above” this, they’re not. I still remember a dustup between the Braves and Rockies or Phillies in the early 1990s. I think Otis Nixon was hit a few times, and the Braves retaliated. The first man up in the inning was Dale Murphy of all people. Tom Glavine threw three pitches about 18.3 mph apiece at Murphy and was ejected. OK, THAT is throwing at someone.

Angus

July 19th, 2010
5:51 pm

Hopefully Venters’ suspension gets cut in half.

Anyway, what’s up the Brewers getting plunked all the time (and not just by us)?

As Smoe said, Fielder’s 3rd, but dang, the Brewers lead all of MLB and Rickie Weeks is #1.

Joe Smoe

July 19th, 2010
5:57 pm

Angus: Thats my point exactly. The Brewers are trying to ensure they do not get pitched inside anymore by making an example of the Braves. It will not stop it completely, but will scare some pitchers into avoiding the inside area of the plate. When in fact, the high and inside pitch is a part of baseball.

rainman

July 19th, 2010
5:59 pm

Venters is the ‘wildcard’ in the Braves bullpen – in more ways than one. If you have some wicked stuff and the batter knows the ball could go anywhere (including his head)- that can be good. On the other hand, a reliever cannot be walking people or hitting batters on a regular basis. Venters has kept it in the road so far – even though he worries me sometimes. He could be the X-factor in making a good bullpen – great!

lanier

July 19th, 2010
6:01 pm

If they play them again sign Smoltz for a day and let him hit that fat pig

Mark Bradley

July 19th, 2010
6:09 pm

Pretty sure the Braves won’t see Milwaukee again in 2010.

Peter

July 19th, 2010
6:10 pm

Hey Mark are you the same guy who says the Hawks don’t need a center ?

What are you watching ? You have never seen Venters throw wildly to the back stop before ?

Halberstram

July 19th, 2010
6:13 pm

I understand the suspensions, but the umpires reasoning for allowing the Brewers to retaliate against the Braves on Sunday were bs. They purposely hit Glaus and everyone knows it. I understand why he was hit, but the pitcher should have been ejected for that.

Leader 1

July 19th, 2010
6:13 pm

Whenever I see a goofball with as many hideous & tacky tattoos as Prince Fielder, combined with that negative attitude of his, I immediately want to drill him with a fastball, too.

Go, Braves!

dagnabit

July 19th, 2010
6:15 pm

Venters should be suspended for not head-hunting Fielder.

Smoltz29

July 19th, 2010
6:21 pm

Bradley- Do you get paid for the garbage you put out? I guess since the AJC got rid of your cousin Terrence Moore, someone has to fill his space with more idiocy. If the umpires issue a warning and eject Venters on Saturday, then Riske should have been ejected on Sunday due to hitting a batter after a warning. Clearly, the umpiring has gotten worse and worse. I just don’t get how a hometown writer takes up the cause for the visiting team. No wonder Atlanta is ranked as being such a crappy sports town by national publications. Even our homers aren’t. If the Braves need an increase in payroll to be more competetive in the future I have a great idea for Braves fans. We line up and pay $100 per person to drill you in the ear hole with a fastball. 35,000 fans x $100 x the remaining 30 or so home games= plenty of cash to pursue free agents. What do you think fans?

Jethro

July 19th, 2010
6:22 pm

Me, I think the suspensions give the Braves creds, especially Venters. He’ll get the suspension reduced (as he should), but he proved he’s a ballplayer, and it’s part of baseball.

912 Dawg

July 19th, 2010
6:22 pm

@Mark Bradley, this tension between the Braves and Brewers will more than likely hurt the chances of a Corey Hart trade, right?

John

July 19th, 2010
6:24 pm

MB – I’m not sure I follow. MLB can’t read anyone’s mind, so you support their decision?

balismith

July 19th, 2010
6:25 pm

whats the big whoop..part of the game…wish the umps would let players work it out.. wonder what the mindset is though when a pitcher plunks a batter especially the way some pitchers throw the ball today

Willy

July 19th, 2010
6:27 pm

Sounds like the Braves and Brewers should schedule an Ultimate Fighting Championship and be done with it.