Gabe Kapler played the game with plenty of grit during his 12-year major league career. It’s not all that surprising that he’d like to see baseball take a grittier approach to fighting.
Kapler wrote a guest column for WEEI.com in the wake of Tuesday’s Dodgers-Diamondbacks brawl. In his column, Kapler makes it clear that he isn’t a fan of how “fights” are carried out in baseball nowadays, and he suggests that Major League Baseball take a more hockey-style approach.
Kapler, who played for six teams (including the Red Sox) during his career, details a scenario in which a pitcher and batter meet halfway between the pitcher’s mound and home plate to engage in a one-on-one fight, while everyone else looks on. The fight is broken up by the umpires only after one man falls — which is typically how it works in hockey.
“That’s the efficient way to settle a baseball beef,” Kapler wrote. “Instead, here’s how it goes down. Hitter pimps a homerun. Pitcher smokes him in the back (if his command is any good) during his next at-bat. Hitter glares out at pitcher; nothing happens. The pitcher on the hitter’s team retaliates and back-and-forth we go. Maybe the benches clear at some point, maybe we are talking about the issues between the two teams in the weeks and months to come.
Hockey knows this dance well; nobody gets his butt kicked without his consent. Baseball can learn the steps of said dance if willing to stand outside its cozy little box. In the NHL, the players go mano-a-mano and the fight is over when someone hits the ice and the referees step in to break it up. When Marty McSorley and Bob Probert squared off, both guys were stitched up and back on the ice the next shift.”
Kapler admits that baseball can’t be exactly like hockey because of the variables involved, and he even considers situations in which the fight would be a mismatch and situations in which the pitcher really didn’t mean to hit the batter. He thinks a “quick countenance check-in” before deciding whether to throw down could help solve some issues, though.
Kapler also admits that there would be concern about the danger of letting two guys fight. But the former big leaguer thinks that the risk is much greater when 50 players converge on the field.
It seems like a crazy idea, especially considering how traditional baseball tends to be. However, Kapler isn’t the first to suggest such an idea, and he certainly won’t be the last.
Photo via Wikipedia/Gabe Kapler