Sports In Paradise By Dale Jones
Did you hear the one about the Alabama pitcher who intentionally threw a ball at an Auburn batter and was tossed from the game, along with his coach?
…And then the Auburn pitcher intentionally threw a ball at a Bama batter and he and his coach were tossed as well?
…So both head coaches ended up in the clubhouse during the final game of the series?
This is not a joke. It really happened over the weekend as the Tide and Tigers seemed to be going for the record of most ejections in a series.
It all began on Friday when Auburns Hunter Morris was beaned by Tide pitcher Adam Morgan. That brought a warning to both dugouts from umpires.
On Saturday, Tide reliever David Head was tossed, along with head coach Mitch Gaspard when Head hit the Tigers Kevin Patterson with a pitch.
Then on Sunday, Auburn starter Grant Dayton nailed Alabama’s Taylor Dugas with a pitch, sending him and coach John Pawlowski to the showers early. In both instances, the pitchers were given a four-game suspension and the coaches were given a one-game suspension.
It is kind of a crazy rule if you ask me. It states that if the coach has been warned during or before the contest, the coach also shall be ejected and suspended for the next regularly scheduled contest.
I don’t know, maybe it happens. Maybe, somewhere in the college ranks, there is a coach that will give his pitcher the “bean” sign.
In Auburn’s defense, Alabama was up in the series, but Auburn was ahead in the 8th inning of the final game. They were trying to avoid a sweep. So why would the coach allow a pitcher to intentionally hit a batter? There would be no justification in doing such a thing. The fact is, he wouldn’t.
None of the instances over the weekend were followed by bench-clearing brawls. For the most part, both teams and coaches conducted themselves very professionally. Nobody lost control.
Gaspard said that this is part of the game, and I agree.
These are not professional pitchers. These are college kids who often play around with the strike zone, especially on the inside of the plate, and like the Bama coach said “they are going to miss with some pitches.”
My question is what kind of precedent is this going to set for other sports?
In basketball, coaches will often instruct players to intentionally foul an opposing player in the waning moments of a close game. Will those coaches soon be tossed and suspended?
In football, if a player intentionally holds or interferes with a receiver, will the coach and player get tossed and suspended?
I understand that baseball can be a dangerous sport and that serious injury could result from being struck by an 85-mph fastball. I also know that sometimes, especially in sports, an individual will let his emotions get the best of him, but this is a stupid rule.
Toss the player not the coach.
At this level, and with the salaries that are being paid, it is important that the coaches are on the field or on the court, coaching, teaching and instructing.
Now if a coach throws a chair across the floor or head-butts a player, that’s another story.
Oh, by the way, Alabama (19-8, 4-5) won the series over Auburn (18-10, 5-4) even though the Tigers won the final game.
-Hit ‘em straight
—Dale Jones covers sports and news in Baldwin County.