On Fighting and Baseball

On Fighting and Baseball

by Dale Reeves

Pastor of Creative Content


The Cincinnati Reds were the lead story last night on ESPN’s SportsCenter, not because of a terrific game, or “Top 10 Plays of the Night,” but because of an epic bench-clearing brawl with the Pittsburgh Pirates. Currently, the Reds and the Pirates are literally fighting it out for ownership of the cellar in the National League Central Division, while the Cards, Cubs, and Brewers are duking it out for the top spot.

If you’re not a baseball fan, or follower of the Reds or Pirates, please allow me to give you a little bit of context. Frustration has been mounting between these two teams for quite some time. Numerous Pirates and Reds were ejected from last night’s game, and several suspensions will be meted out by the league for Reds manager David Bell and several other players. Bell had been ejected from the game earlier for arguing a strike call, and when the melee ensued, he came out of the clubhouse and headed straight for Pirates manager Clint Hurdle, seeing him as the reason for the Bucs pitchers throwing at his guys. For what it’s worth, the Pirates beat the Reds 11-4 last night, thus snapping a nine-game losing streak. The Reds had pummeled the Pirates 11-6 just one night before.

The NL Central rivals have been going at it for years. By the way, the Steelers and Bengals don’t care too much for each other, either. Maybe it’s because they have to share a river between their cities. This season in April, Reds player Derek Dietrich admired a home run he hit at PNC Park in Pittsburgh just a “little too long” for the Pirates liking. So, when Dietrich came to bat last night late in the game, Bucs pitcher Keona Kela threw a fastball “up and in,” just over Derek’s head. Kela said later, “I was just doing my part. I wanted to show them that we didn’t agree with the way things went down.”

Reds first baseman Joey Votto exchanged words with Kela between innings, and the frustration continued to mount. Eventually, Reds reliever Jared Hughes threw an errant pitch that hit a Pirate and sent him to first base. In his post-game interview, Jared said the pitch “slipped.” After Reds reliever Amir Garrett gave up a late home run, the chatter continued from the Pirates dugout, and Garrett charged their dugout, throwing a left hook and just missing his intended target. That’s when the bench-clearing began, Reds manager David Bell stormed out of the clubhouse, and Reds outfielder Yasiel Puig (in the process of being traded to the Cleveland Indians during the game), prolonged the fight with lots of verbal jawing. In an interview in the Reds locker room afterward, Puig said, “That’s just part of the game.”

Part of the game? Thanks to Tom Hanks, we know from the movie A League of Their Own, “There’s no crying in baseball.” But should there be fighting in baseball? Well, it’s not a new thing. Being a long-time Big Red Machine fan, I vividly remember the scuffle between Pete Rose and the New York Mets player, Bud Harrelson, in 1973. It was a rumble in the dust for the ages. And, when Rose took his spot in left field later in the game, Mets fans showered him with beer cans, batteries, and assorted dumpster items. When a whiskey bottle whizzed by his head, Rose headed for the dugout, and Reds manager Sparky Anderson pulled the rest of his players off the field.

Admittedly, New York fans can be raucous and unruly. And the stadiums in about any other city in America are filled with crazies as well. What’s the problem? I believe we have a massive anger management problem in our country, and watching events like the one that unfolded last night at Great American Ball Park are just fueling the fire of the hostilities that are pent up in many people today. A few years ago, in a Timemagazine article, Jeffrey Kluger said this: “The easiest thing you’ll do all day is get ticked off at something. Someone cuts ahead of you in traffic? Ticked off. Guy in front of you at Starbucks needs his entire order remade? Exceedingly ticked off. We’re all that way—and that’s a problem. Anger is the lazy person’s emotion. . . . And more and more, we’re gorging on it.”

Our anger is out of control.

So, what are parents to do when they spent hard-earned money on a baseball game and concessions last night? They were hoping for a great family outing on a nice summer evening, and instead they exposed their children to this kind of immature display of professional baseball players. I would contend that this provides a great opportunity to talk with our kids about the fallen nature of our world, and how God’s design for his creation is the polar opposite—that he created us for peace and harmony, not hostility.

God’s Word gives us some very practical advice we should be passing on to the next generation:

“Fools vent their anger,but the wise quietly hold it back” (Proverbs 29:11, NLT).

“Control your temper,for anger labels you a fool” (Ecclesiastes 7:9, NLT).

“A gentle answer deflects anger,but harsh words make tempers flare” (Proverbs 15:1, NLT).

Last night just adds another poignant example for our kids who have witnessed coaches and parents fight each other at Little League games, high school athletic contests, even at Disneyland, the “happiest place on earth.” But God’s Word provides a teaching moment we would all do well to pass on to our children today: “Now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips” (Colossians 3:8, NIV). Any parent will tell you that every day can be a fight just to keep their kids on the “straight and narrow.” Following Jesus isn’t easy. I am praying today for parents and kids to fight the good fight of faith.



Article photo taken from Cincinnati Enquirer 

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