Kevin Towers is telling his pitchers to hit batters. This is simple, this is obvious, and Major League Baseball is doing nothing about it.
On March 14th, the Diamondbacks faced the Rockies in a Spring Training game. Rockies minor leaguer Tommy Kahnle, a 23-year-old with no experience above Double-A who has never appeared on a top prospects list and who has next to zero chance at making the Rockies club out of camp, hit Mark Trumbo in the back with a fastball. These things happen.
In response, Wade Miley threw at Troy Tulowitzki. Miley hit Tulowitzki in the calf, and the Rockies’ star shortstop will miss a few spring games as a result. There was concern, thankfully unrealized, that Tulowitzki had suffered a hairline fracture in his tibia.
The Rockies, according to Denver Post writer Troy Renck, were “privately convinced that Miley’s pitch was on purpose.” I wonder where they could have gotten that idea…
Kevin Towers on KTAR 620 AM last October:
“But I think come Spring Training, it will be duly noted that it’s going to be an eye for an eye and we’re going to protect one another. If not, if you have options, there’s ways to get you out of here, and you don’t follow suit or you don’t feel comfortable doing it, you probably don’t belong in a Diamondbacks uniform.”
Worried about players getting hurt? Don’t be. Towers tells us:
“Back probably when Gibby (Kirk Gibson) and Tram (Alan Trammell) and (Don) Baylor and everybody played, I — I wouldn’t say the game’s always been the same, but those were things that were taught to you very early in your professional career, you know, eye for an eye — you know, not that you’re out to end somebody’s career or hurt somebody, you know, you read enough Tony La Russa books, who’s old school — even Dusty Baker — that doesn’t happen, it’s not gonna happen.”
Restraint? Not here!
“I was sitting behind home plate that game (when the Dodgers blew Arizona out 8-1 on September 9th), and when [Dodgers players] showed up on the Diamondvision of stuffing bananas down their throats, I felt like we were a punching bag,” Towers said. “Literally, if I would have had a carton of baseballs, I would have fired them into the dugout from where I was sitting behind home plate.”
In talks with reporters after Tulowitzki was hit, everybody tried to downplay the situation. “It’s part of the game. It can happen in spring or during the regular season,” Diamondbacks manager Kirk Gibson said. “It’s never fun any time you get hit, but it happens. You deal with it and go from there,” Tulowitzki said. When asked about the “eye for an eye” quotes, Tulowitzki said, “I’d rather not get into that.” Rockies manager Walt Weiss offered similar sentiments according to MLB.com.
Benches were warned, but no further discipline was handed out. And of course, nobody from the Rockies is throwing out accusations. Tattletales are never encouraged, nobody wants to anger the Diamondbacks organization in case they ever end up working for them, and the Rockies have surely had their own cases of throwing at opponents intentionally.
But Major League Baseball’s inaction in this case is inexplicable. Kevin Towers made it clear as day and has continued to make it clear as day that violent retaliation is a part of the Diamondbacks culture. A Diamondback was hit, and within the same game, a Diamondbacks pitcher threw not just at a Rockies player, but at the Rockies’ superstar and franchise face.
It is flatly insulting to everybody’s intelligence for baseball not to rule this pitch as intentional. Throughout baseball’s history, as I explored last October, large suspensions and fines have been available as an option to punish teams and players using the beanball as a retaliatory measure.
So why hasn’t baseball gone after Kevin Towers and his organization? The only way to show this behavior is unacceptable is to punish it. Wade Miley threw at Troy Tulowitzki. Need evidence? Listen to everything Kevin Towers has said about beanballs over the past six months. There is no way to listen to what Towers has said and believe it wasn’t intentional. He and his team has lost the benefit of the doubt.
For MLB to take no action on this is shameful, and they will regret it once concerns of serious injury, like the Rockies had with Tulowitzki on Friday, are fully realized. As long as Towers is allowed to preach violence and retaliation, as long as violence and retaliation are requirements of wearing the Diamondbacks uniform, it is only a matter of time.