It was a wild one in St. Loius today as Tino Martinez of the Cardinals, in this corner with the white uniform and red trim, and the D-Backs' Miguel Batista, in the grey uniforms and blak trim, squared off after Martinez was hit by Batista and Batista had the temerity to stare at him.
It seems that Batista hit Martinez on the shoulder with a 1-0 pitch in the fifth. Martinez looked back at Batista but did not charge the mound. Martinez was forced at second and doubled back on his route to the dugout to approach Batista. Batista threw a ball and Maryinez a punch, neither of which landed. Benches cleared and both were ejected. Later on pitcher Jeff Fassero and manager Tony LaRussa of the Cardinals were also ejected for Fassero's hitting Luis Gonzalez in the ribs, which Fassero admitted to doing on purpose:
"I still believe in the old ways, settling scores for teams and stuff like that, protect your guys.''
Why all the hubbub anyway? According to LaRussa, Miguel Batista stared at Martinez after hitting him and as he left the field:
"When you drill somebody and you stare at them like he stared, that is so unprofessional and so intentional-looking that we'll see how major league baseball handles it."
Staring? Big deal, get over it. Maybe he was just trying to get into Martinez's head, which he evidently did. It's very surprising to see a consummate professional like Martinez react this way.
Batista's using the ball as a weapon was also reprehensible, but given that he was chargee, not the charger, I am inclined to agree, perhaps for the first time ever, with Arizona manager Bob Brenly:
"I don't know what you're supposed to do as a pitcher,'' Brenly said. "Just stand there and let the guy drive you down through the rubber?
"He's got to defend himself anyway he knows how.''
Well, that won't fly at MLB hind-, er, headquarters. Expect some big suspensions and fines from this one. And maybe Batista will learn that it's impolite to stare.