Their mutual lack of respect for each other, however, is no excuse for the war of the words between the two spilling out into the public.
Wednesday night, Baker told Reds starter Mat Latos to throw at Lowe when he came up to bat.
Latos did, and Lowe pointed his bat at the Reds dugout. Baker waved his finger in the air at Lowe, who then later hit Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips.
So far, so good. Just some old-fashioned baseball: you throw at me, I’ll throw at you. The National League at its finest.
After the game, however, Lowe escalated things with some choice words for Baker.
“I have zero respect for the guy — not that it matters,” Lowe stated. “I imagine he’d say the same about me.”
On Thursday morning, Baker did say the same about Lowe, lowering the boom on the pitcher with accusations that Lowe might have been drinking when he made his comments.
“Man, I don’t care,” Baker fired back. “A lot of people don’t respect me. He don’t respect himself. The word was whatever he did and said probably there was a good chance he was drinking at the ballpark and he don’t remember what he said or what he did.”
Playing the respect card might have been fine, but by calling out Lowe for alleged drinking, Baker went all-in on the Indians pitcher. In doing so, he went too far.
Baseball is baseball, and things said in the heat of the moment are forgivable. In Lowe’s case, he was understandably excitable after gearing up to pitch in the big leagues, likely still coming down off the adrenaline high many players reach during competition. Baker, on the other hand, has no such excuse for his explosive statement.
The Reds manager made his comments in the light of day, a day after the fact. He had a chance to sleep on what happened, and he was presented with an opportunity to defuse the situation by taking the high road.
Instead, he chose to pull out a rocket launcher, set his sights on the high road and blow it into smithereens.
Baseball doesn’t need to air its dirty laundry in the press, and for that, Baker and Lowe both deserve blame. Whatever history the two had is what it is. The big leagues can use an old-fashioned blood feud every now and then, but Baker crossed the line with a personal attack and should know better.
Pro athletes and coaches are people. They have feelings and they are allowed to hold grudges. Baker’s willingness to throw such a loaded accusation at Lowe, however, is over the line.
If you’re going to throw at a guy, fine. Do it, aim low and get it over with. Then, move on.
Baker decided to land the last verbal blow, and he didn’t choose his words carefully. For that, he deserves the blame in this situation.