When Arizona Diamondbacks right-hander Randall Delgado plunked Pittsburgh Pirates outfielder and reigning National League MVP Andrew McCutchen with a 95-mph fastball Saturday night, you knew there was going to be a national reaction.
However, you probably didn’t think the commentary would last into the middle of the next week.
People are still talking about the pitch, which is perceived to be a retaliatory effort against Pittsburgh after D-backs slugger Paul Goldschmidt was hit on the hand by Bucs reliever Ernesto Frieri Friday night. Goldschmidt suffered a fractured left hand, effectively ending his season.
In the days that followed, national media members stood in line to rail on the Diamondbacks for their tactics. CBSSports.com columnist Greg Doyel called manager Kirk Gibson a “meathead.” Grantland.com’s Michael Baumann skewered Gibson, calling him “the guy who tries to start a fight with a stranger and then tells his friends to hold him back.”
ESPN’s Keith Olbermann jumped on the bandwagon as well, naming Gibson and general manager Kevin Towers “the world’s worst persons in sports” on his Monday telecast.
“Two of the best players in the National League are hurt. One gone for the year — because of an accident — the other gone for at least two weeks in the middle of a pennant race because a very bad baseball team run by a manager and a general manager, who have almost nothing but failure in their careers in those positions, decided to retaliate…for an accident,” he ranted.
Well, Towers has a message for all the national critics who don’t believe the Diamondbacks are playing the game the “right way.”
“We’re not a dirty organization at all,” he told Doug and Wolf Wednesday on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM. “I think the people in here are good people that have been in this game a long, long time and know how the game should be played.”
The general manager believes the times have changed in terms of perception when it comes to baseball matters such as this one.
“With social media and what happens nowadays — 20 years ago, this wouldn’t be a story,” he said. “Now, it blows like wildfire and it goes crazy.
“But I think the one thing we all need to remember is baseball is a dangerous game. I think a lot of people think it’s vanilla. I mean, the game can be very dangerous and I think we need to remind ourselves that guys are throwing the ball 95 and 96 miles per hour across the plate and guys are leaning over the plate, guys are going to get hit and it can be very, very dangerous.”
Bean balls and retaliation have been prominent story lines for well over a calendar year for the D-backs. So has the subject of pitching inside to be successful. Towers reiterated his stance on the matter.
“The Pittsburgh Pirates, I think they’ve hit 61 hitters — almost double the amount of hitters we’ve hit over this season. They pitch inside and I think that’s why they’ve been successful over the last couple of years,” he said. “What’s killed us the last couple of years is the long ball. Not only the long ball, but not pitching inside effectively. If you don’t pitch inside effectively, you’re going to have poor results.
“My comment a year ago is we have to have allegiance to our players too. Our players and our fan base. Guys like Paul Goldschmidt, we need to be running out there every day to not only give our organization a chance to win, but he’s one of our more popular players. I think our guys need to have allegiance to our own players and play the game the right way. Not to hurt anybody, but to come in there and take away the inner half of the plate. If you take the inner half away, you’ve got a chance to be successful — and guys are going to get dinged at times, it’s part of the game.”