LOS ANGELES, September 27, 2013 — In real life Brian McCann is not a police officer. Nor is he involved with enforcing the rules of life or baseball. In fact, Brian McCann is merely the starting All-Star catcher for the playoff bound Atlanta Braves. However, on Wednesday September 25, 2013 Brian McCann morphed into the Judge Dredd of Baseball. The Braves, who have already locked their spot into this year’s playoffs by winning the National League East Division, were at home playing the near last place Milwaukee Brewers.
When a team secures their spot into the playoffs, normally it has two goals for the rest of the regular season. One, make sure none of the starting players gets injured and two, rest those players along the way to preserve them for the playoffs. The third goal, which is usually an unwritten rule, not to do anything stupid to get yourself injured or suspended.
On September 25, something childish occurred in sports. Braves starting catcher and part-time Crusader of Justice, Brian McCann was in the thick of it. Here’s the scenario; one out in the top of the first inning, Brewers All-Star outfielder, Carlos Gomez, steps to the plate to face Braves starting pitcher Paul Maholm. These two players have a history this year. Back on June 23, Maholm plunked Gomez’s knee with a fastball. Three months is an eternity in the game of baseball, and Gomez’s chance for retribution finally arrived.
As Gomez walked to the plate, McCann, who was catching, exchanged pleasantries with Gomez. “Good day sir, wonderful weather we are having today!” Obviously they did not say that to each other, but watching the video, you can tell their exchange is anything but normal. On Maholm’s first pitch, Gomez swung wildly for a strike. Gomez then proceeded to shoot Death Lasers from his eyes at Maholm. On the very next pitch, Gomez connected and deposited the ball into the left center field stands for a home run. Gomez got his revenge on Maholm. Revenge achieved! Game Over! Right? Wrong. Instead of the case being closed, Gomez flipped his bat on the swing and then felt the need to gloat at the Braves’ expense while he jogged the base paths.
Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman was the first to verbally retaliate at Gomez and continued to yell at him as Gomez neared second base. Not one care was given by Gomez until he rounded third base and was 90 feet away from home plate. That’s when Gomez entered Drill Sgt. McCann’s No Fly Zone. McCann felt that he needed to personally enforce the “rules” of sportsmanship and protect the sanctity of the game by blocking Gomez about ten feet away from home plate. In the ultimate show of unsportsmanlike conduct and childish behavior, Officer McCann then verbally assaulted Gomez while continuing to block the baseline, thus impeding Gomez from crossing home plate directly, all while in full view of the home plate umpire. Right then and there, McCann went full “Gandalf” on Gomez! “Thou Shall Not Pass!!!” At that point, both teams emptied their dugouts and a full scale donnybrook erupted.
Once all participants went to their neutral corners, umpires ejected Gomez, Freeman, and Braves backup catcher Gerald Laird. No word on why Laird was ejected, but it probably had to do with being named “Gerald” in 2013. (He was actually thrown out for arguing with umpires who were trying to resume the game. Shocker.)
The Injustice of the Night was that Staff Sgt. McCann, who escalated this entire situation, was not ejected. Neither was Braves outfielder/”Head Bouncer” Reed Johnson who landed a punch to Carlos Gomez’s head during the fracas.
A day later, Major League Baseball suspended Carlos Gomez and Reed Johnson for one game and fined them an undisclosed amount for their actions in the bench-clearing brawl.
During a post-game interview with MLB.com’s Adam McCalvy spoke with Gomez, who at first was unapologetic, before changing his tune. Gomez went on to say, “I did a little bit more [than I should have], and I apologize for this, but if you see the replay [from June], they hit me for no reason, and I tried to get it back today. It’s the only opportunity that I have, and that’s what I did.”
Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez disagreed with Gomez’s explanation. “I’ve never seen anything like it in my baseball career, whether it be the big leagues, Minor Leagues or little leagues.” Hopefully he was also including his own player’s actions in that blanket statement.
Bottom line, Carlos Gomez should get a large portion of the blame for this. He had vengeance on his mind the moment he stepped into the batter’s box. By hitting the home run, he got his revenge on Maholm. Once he arrogantly gloated about the home run, he sparked the match that lit this blaze.
While Gomez was the “Instigator”, McCann was the most certainly the “Igniter” of this brew-ha-ha. He felt the need to dispense his own warped version of street justice. McCann took “blocking the plate” to new heights with his petulant display of poor sportsmanship. He should have been ejected right then and there for impeding the progress of the runner and delaying the game.
If the Braves had not reacted like they did, Gomez would have been villainized, rightfully so by the media and fans for his actions. However, McCann and his teammates made the situation worse. Their feelings were hurt because of Gomez’ childish and petty behavior. The Braves took this over the line and beyond, and it is ridiculous that MLB did not punish them accordingly. These kids should have their dessert privileges taken away at least for a week for their behavior.
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