Manuel Aristides Ramirez

That’s assault, brother

You probably remember the high school pitcher in Georgia who conspired with his catcher to intentionally bean the home plate umpire earlier this year. There was video of the pitch, Rick Reilly wrote a column about it, and the catcher lost his spot on the Gordon College baseball team, where he was planning to walk on.

Naturally, some dumbass in Wisconsin took in the whole sorry affair, and said, “Hey, that’s not a bad idea.”

The ugly finish to an Eastern Section game between McFarland and Monona was a black eye for an amateur baseball league that prides itself on being fan- and family-friendly.

The umpires stopped Sunday’s game with Monona leading 2-1 in the top of the seventh inning after a tumultuous stretch that lasted about 10 minutes and included at least three members of the McFarland team getting ejected from the game. McFarland went from having a shot at upsetting first-place Monona to losing the game by forfeit.

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The chaotic sequence of events started on the first pitch of the seventh, when McFarland pitcher Cory Schuchardt threw a fastball that struck home plate umpire Rich Fronheiser in the chest protector and knocked him back a few steps. Fronheiser immediately ejected McFarland catcher Pete Patten; Fronheiser said Tuesday that he felt Patten had intentionally let the pitch pass so it would hit Fronheiser.

After ejecting the pitcher, catcher, and manager, the umpire wound up just calling the game a forfeit after several McFarland players tried to argue that the pitch should have been called a strike.

And as a nice epilogue to the game, one McFarland fan decided to get into the spirit of things:

Fronheiser and Thom headed for their vehicles, but Fronheiser returned briefly after realizing he forgot to leave the game balls with the home team. After he rolled the balls toward the field of play, at least one McFarland fan picked up the balls and threw them at Fronheiser.

Good times.

Reyes vs. Hernandez; The Post’s Golden Age

Well, that didn’t take long. Per the New York Post, the Mets took another step toward Armageddon, with Jose Reyes squaring off with Keith “I’m Keith Hernandez!” Hernandez on the Mets’ flight to St. Louis following the subway series:

“A team source described the situation aboard the plane as “very heated.” One player told The Post that he thought Reyes and the popular former Met – now an analyst for the club’s SNY TV network – were close to exchanging punches until others stepped in.

Reyes said yesterday he was angry at Hernandez after numerous friends and relatives told him Hernandez accused the Mets of “babying” Reyes during the broadcast of Sunday’s 3-1 win over the Yankees at Shea Stadium.”

On a related note: has there ever been a better time to be the Post? They’ve got the Mets massively underperforming and on the verge of killing each other – and just when they thought things would calm down when Willie Randolph left, the new manager comes in and promptly threatens to stab their All-Star shortstop. Meanwhile in the Bronx, Hank Steinbrenner has proven even more meddlesome and bombastic than his father, providing constant quote fodder for the back page.

But I think the coup de grace, the moment they had to wonder if they’d died and gone to tabloid heaven, was when Alex Rodriguez was once again caught cheating… with Madonna. A-Rod, the Post’s favorite whipping boy, the man of a thousand back pages, the guy whose tryst with a Candian stripper was treated as a scandal of Watergate proportions… gets caught having an affair with freakin’ Madonna. And then to top it all off, A-Rod’s soon to be ex-wife responds by running off to Paris with Lenny Kravitz, who happens to be Madonna’s ex-boyfriend.

Seriously, the New York Post is like a fat kid locked in a candy factory right now.

So, when are the Mets gonna fight?

In the wake of the Chacon Incident and the Manny Incident, Metstradamus asks: when is the Mets clubhouse going to explode?

“Because you know that when the final piece of evidence that this team is a lifeless mess finally comes, it’s not going to be something simple like a chokeslam or a shove. Oh no, the apocalypse of the ’08 Mets is going to be on a grander scale because everything is done bigger in New York anyway.

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And make no mistake, when you pour an underachieving team into a pot and mix it with a bitter fan base and let a relentless media horde turn up the heat to about 450, it’s going to happen. Only question is when.”

I’m picturing an Anchorman-esque clusterfuck, complete with Jose Reyes killing Delgado with a trident. Would it really surprise anyone at this point?

(Tip of the hat to Baseball Musings)

Sox-Rays series preview

The Sox-Rays series that starts tonight won’t just determine the best team in the American league – it will also likely feature a throwdown or two, owing to the recent brawl between the two AL East powerhouses.

The hype for this series has (almost) reached Sox-Yankees levels. The Boston Globe recaps the history of bad blood between the two teams, including Julian “Freddy Krueger” Tavarez’s bizarre spring training attack on Joey Gathright. The Boston Herald, meanwhile, reports on death threats directed at Sox players by what appears to be a Rays fan in Tennessee (what?).

While we’ll probably see an incident at some point during the series, a few mitigating factors could unfortunately lessen the chances of a serious bench-clearer. The main player in the most recent brawl, Coco Crisp, conveniently began serving his five game suspension today, so he’ll be out of the picture. Meanwhile, the Sox’ three scheduled starters for the series – Justin Masterson, Tim Wakefield, and Daisuke Matsuzaka – aren’t likely candidates to be throwing at anyone (Masterson is by all accounts a great kid, Wakefield’s “fastball” tops out at around 75, and my sense is that intentional HBPs are rare in Japan).

On the other hand, the Rays are still pissed about the brawl, and noted hotheads Matt Garza and James Shields are both pitching in the series – Garza, you’ll recall, nearly came to blows with his own catcher while he was still on the mound, and Shields was the one who hit Crisp in the first place. And don’t forget that Jonathan Papelbon declared that “payback is a bitch” when asked about the upcoming series. While I’d like to think that Papelbon wouldn’t be stupid enough to bean someone in a close game, he’s not exactly famed for his intelligence.

Edit: Masterson just hit Willy Aybar in the first on a slider that slid a bit too much. The umpire, to his credit, had the good sense not to issue warnings on what was pretty clearly unintentional. I don’t envy the umps in a series like this.

Beckett remodels visitor’s dugout

Out in Center Field has video of Josh Beckett’s half-hearted tantrum during yesterday’s rubber match against the Astros. Property damage did not approach Paul O’Neill levels. Maybe he was afraid Manny would hit him if he got too worked up.

In any case, I rate this tantrum: two out of five water coolers.

Manny being shovey

Stop hitting people, Manny:

Manny Ramirez shoved Red Sox traveling secretary Jack McCormick to the ground in an argument over Ramirez’ ticket allotment. Several onlookers moved quickly to separate the two.

Ramirez had asked McCormick for 16 tickets for Saturday night’s Red Sox-Astros game, an unusually high number for day-of-game.

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When McCormick cautioned Ramirez that he might not be able to fulfill his request, Ramirez responded by shouting: “Just do your job!”

An argument insued [sic] and Ramirez pushed McCormick, sending him to the ground.

This comes just a few weeks after Ramirez hit Kevin Youkilis in a dugout altercation. Is Manny becoming this year’s Michael Barrett?