Well, the fallout of last night started to seem very familiar. In a solid, but not exactly dominant win over the Pirates, Aroldis Chapman came into the 9th inning, and hit Andrew McCutchen.
This made Pirates fans angry. Understandably. When Joey Votto gets hit by a pitch, it turns off the part of my brain that’s meant to be rational. It’s especially not good when it’s a three-digit Aroldis Chapman fastball. That one’s gonna hurt. Also, internet Pirates fans are as ridiculous as internet anyone else fans – so you know, rationality is not a strong point.
I’d like to suggest that this is not Chapman just deciding he wants to hit McCutchen because… well, I’m not sure anyone’s come up with a really good reason, but essentially Pirates fans seem to think Chapman wanted to make a statement after blowing his last save against the Pirates, which was two months ago. It’s also a stupid reason. I mean, that’s not to say it couldn’t be true – Chapman is young, and a professional baseball player: not a cohort that’s proved itself immune from dumb reasoning.
But there’s no proof that he did hit him. Yes, Garrett Jones was coming up next, who Chapman would probably get out easily. But this is Aroldis Chapman – if that was a good suggestion to hit someone, Aroldis would have 20 hit batsmen this season. Neither Chapman, nor any pitcher in baseball has shown a tendency to intentionally hit a batter for any other reason than as revenge for a previous HBP, or a personal grudge between the two people involved.
Secondly, Chappy’s control HAS improved, but he’s as susceptible to hit batsmen as any other pitcher. So far in 2012, Chapman has 4 hit batsmen – which makes him second among NL relief pitchers. Even without hitting McCutchen, he’d still be tied for third, behind only Johnny Venters, Scott Maine, and Ryan Webb. So yes Chapman’s control has improved, but he’s still very susceptible to lapses in mental focus. Fortunately for him, and the Reds, he has enough raw talent that this hasn’t hurt us much in the past. This time, perhaps, though, it hurt Andrew McCutchen.
Is it possible that Chapman hit McCutchen on purpose? Yes. I don’t know what’s going on his head anymore than Pirates fans do – and he certainly has made some poor choices in the past. Still, it’s also extremely possible that he didn’t hit him on purpose. In any case, I won’t be too pissed if a Reds hitter gets hit tonight – as long as it’s not a headshot, or something else ridiculous. If they want to give us a free base-runner, fine.
Moreover, I just don’t want another enemy. I don’t hate any of the Pirates. I am largely apathetic to Pirates fans. Don’t we all get enough dumb posturing and circular arguments from hating the Cardinals? That should be enough. Please let that be enough.