People siding with Yordano Ventura in his fight with Manny Machado are few and far between. One of them is Kansas City Royals broadcaster Rex Hudler, who sided with the pitcher in his fight against the Baltimore Orioles star.
“The two pitches the previous at-bat, I’d already talked about how Yordano’s got to pitch inside to be successful against these guys,” Hudler said, in an interview on 610 Sports Radio (h/t Dan Steinberg of the Washington Post). “So he pitched him two times inside, and then [Machado] stares him down after the second pitch. C’mon, man. The game has gotten so soft. I mean, what the heck?”
In case you’re scoring at home, staring someone down after getting two fastballs thrown at you isn’t sticking up for yourself, but being soft. Conversely, reacting to being stared-down by throwing a near 100 mile per hour fastball at the starer’s ribs is completely fine.
Perfectly logical so far.
In a normal circumstance, it would be easy to cut Hudler some slack here. After all, he works for the Royals as a broadcaster and is giving an interview in Kansas City.
The audience may be a little tired of having their guy blamed for a fight. Any other pitcher in the game may get a break on this one. But Ventura isn’t any other pitcher.
The problem is that Ventura is not even getting defended by his own team. The Royals didn’t exactly rally behind their teammate in the post-game comments. Even as the fight was happening, Machado paused for a brief moment before charging Ventura.
On 999 out of 1,000 occasions, catchers will take that opportunity to get in front of the hitter. Not only did Salvador Perez not do that, he didn’t really even try to get in front of Machado until he began running hard at Ventura. Unless you’re a big believer in coincidences, that’s telling.
Remember, Ventura’s a guy who was in the middle of bench-clearing incidents in three straight starts last season. One of them came against the Chicago White Sox, when he was apparently offended that Adam Eaton hit a ball back at him. That’s not tough, that’s just reckless and just stupid.
Even for a guy that no doubt grew up walking to school barefoot in the snow, uphill both ways, Hudler trying to defend Ventura logically is a tough uphill battle.