The talk of the baseball world today has been the incident between the Arizona Diamondbacks and the Milwaukee Brewers in the 8th inning Tuesday night. With first base open and runners on second and third, Ryan Braun was intentionally hit by Diamondbacks reliever Evan Marshall. Marshall missed his first shot at Braun, throwing a fastball behind him and eliciting a warning from home plate umpire Ted Barrett. The next pitch hit Braun squarely on the posterior and Marshall was quickly ejected.
Diamondbacks manager, and noted tough guy, Kirk Gibson was then seen giving his approval to Marshall for the hit on Braun.
Most of the talk about motivation for this decision has centered around the fact that Brewers starter Kyle Lohse hit two batters in the game. One of those, shortstop Chris Ownings, was hit in the helmet. Both Lohse and catcher Jonathan Lucroy both showed immediate dismay and concern at the hit, so it’s hard to imagine that Gibson or his players thought it was an intentional move. Even so, the prevailing opinion Wednesday was that this was merely a case of Gibson (albeit foolishly) protecting his own. Was it, though?
On Tuesday, Gibson made a regularly scheduled appearance on KTAR radio in Phoenix. In it, the hosts talked a bit about the game from Monday night, some calls that went against the D-Backs and Gibson’s ejection. A little bit more than four minutes into the interview, the hosts played some audio of comments that Gibson made about Ryan Braun’s Biogenesis situation. They then began to hector Gibson about just why it was that he hadn’t hit Ryan Braun yet.
Host: Let me go to the 9th inning. JJ’s (Putz) is in the game. It starts to get out of hand, you’re down seven to three. You’ve got an open base. You know you’re kicked out of the game. You’re not there. You’ve been ejected at this point. You’ve got second and third and you’ve got a base open. You’ve got this bum up, who we all hate, and I’m curious as to why you guys pitched to him and he hits a two run triple off of you. I would have rather gotten retaliation for Gerardo Parra getting hit on purpose and maybe just put him on first base with a nice ball in between the ribs.
Gibson: What do you want me to say?
Host: Am I right?
Gibson: I can’t disagree with the way you’re feeling at all. I understand that and we talk about what gets executed and what decisions we make or different people make we’ll keep to ourselves, but you just can’t drill a guy like that. But, you know, I think that Parra, as far as when he got drilled, it was pretty curious and it hit him pretty good.
Host: It was on purpose. I mean it was a purpose pitch, don’t you agree? With a base open…
Gibson: I don’t know whether it was or not, you would have to ask the appropriate people…
Host: what is your opinion, so you think Parra was hit on purpose or not?
Gibson: I don’t think I’m very well able to share my opinion…
Host: OK, so that means you think he was.
Gibson: I’m gonna stay outta trouble, but I understand where you’re coming from and what everyone else might think about that. There are just certain things I’m really not welcomed to talk about on this radio show. It’s just smarter that I keep my comments to myself. But I understand that feeling.
At this point the host goes on and blathers for a few moments, but the discussion is then wrapped up by Gibson saying this:
Gibson: Lets just say, situations like what you’re talking about are conversations we can have a later date. Is that fair?
Host: That’s fair.
Gibson: (laughing) there’s more to the story.
Host: I’m at the game tonight, I’ll wait for you after your little press conference and me and you can have that conversation. But I’ll be there…
Other Host: …he might be thinking a later date than that. I’m not sure
Gibson: Oh, if he’s waiting for me, but lets just don’t call it a date.
(All three laugh like hyenas at the wonderful joke Gibson just told. End scene)
Make of that what you will, but it certainly seemed like Gibson had something in mind for Braun somewhere down the line. Honestly, you should just click and listen to the interview. The host’s New York accent is outstanding and he clearly has some very strong opinions about Mr. Braun and the punishment he thinks he deserves.
It’s probably unfair to say that Gibson surely went into the game intending to hit Ryan Braun no matter what. That being said, hitting Braun was clearly on the man’s mind, and for reasons that go well beyond Kyle Lohse accidentally hitting Chris Owings in the head. That’s fine, too, because Jonathan Lucroy punished Gibson for it in the best way possible, by hitting a game winning grand slam.
Let Gibson play out all these silly little revenge fantasies to his heart’s content. As Kyle Lohse so eloquently put it: “You’re going to play tough guy stuff? Go ahead, we’re winning games.”