HBP Situation is Getting Ridiculous

April 18, 2010: Rickie Weeks for the Milwaukee Brewers gets hit by a pitch during a game against the hometown Washington Nationals at Nationals Park in Washington, D.C. The Brewers beat the Nationals 11 - 7.

Just so we’re clear on this whole HBP thing…

Hit the opposing team four times in a series, including hitting one player in the head?  That’s perfectly acceptable, part of the game, and nothing serious enough to warrant a single ejection.

Barely graze a player on his jersey during an inning in which you have absolutely no control?  Take a seat, buddy.  That’s clearly intentional.  There’s no place for that in this game.

This makes perfect sense, right?  …right?

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This situation is getting to the point of lunacy.  The Brewers are getting hit far and away more often than any other team in the league, and umpire decisions on player ejections have ranged from non-existant to inconsistent at best.  Curiously, it seems as though Brewers pitchers are actually the ones getting tossed more often for hitting batters than their opponents.

The only explanation I can think of as to why this would be the case is because the Brewers have made such a big stink about how often they’re getting hit.  Perhaps all the talk is putting it into umpires’ minds that the Brewers are looking to retaliate.  That’s the only way Tom Hallion’s almost instant ejection of LaTroy Hawkins makes any sense.  He must have had it in his mind that any HBP by the Brewers would have been intentional, especially after a three-run homer by Geovany Soto broke the game open.

Of course, there’s also the explanation that Tom Hallion is the worst kind of umpire — one who wants to make himself the center of attention.  He’s got the flashy strikeout motion, he’s been more than willing to get into shouting matches over calls, and he’s the one who dropped the f-bomb at Casey McGehee Tuesday night after ringing him up on a check swing appeal.

Whatever the reason — and I’m not sure there is one — this is getting frustrating.  While I do like that opponents are so willing to give the Brewers so many free bases, it becomes a concern when players start getting seriously injured (and a concussion, even a “minor” one, is a serious injury).  At that point, it’s tough to keep watching it happen while the league and its umpires aren’t doing anything to discourage it, and will also punish the Brewers whenever they try to do something about it.  I guess all I’m asking for is a bit of balance.

If you’re going to throw Hawkins out for grazing Soriano’s jersey, fine.  Just be sure to throw out the opposing pitcher when Prince catches another one between the shoulder blades.  If you’re not going to throw someone out — or even give warnings — after Carlos Gomez gets hit in the head, you shouldn’t be tossing Hawkins with no warnings issued.  Just be consistent.  Is that too much to ask?

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