The National League, sans DH, still requires pitchers to take some accountability for their actions. Unmitigated headhunting exposes the initiator to risk, the opportunity for the other team to take out its frustrations via simple retribution. Of course, the Junior Circuit ringmasters has its disciplinary clowns to administer suspensions (after lengthy appeals) but nothing approaching the instant wild west justice available to the Senior Circuit.
This week Manny Ramirez blasted two titanic round-trippers off aging Yankee hanger-on Mike Mussina. Every team (with money) has them, guys who can't and shouldn't walk away from a big payday. After Moose's departure, Kyle Farnsworth came in and fired high cheese right behind Manny's shoulders. Ramirez wasn't injured, both benches received warnings, and civility prevailed, for now.
Maybe Farnsworth lacks the gray matter to remember Kirby Puckett or Tony Conigliaro, players whose careers suffered greatly after head injuries wrought not necessarily through retribution or anger, but just because. Because a hard round sphere traveling over 90 miles an hour hit them in the soul of their baseball humanity.
If Farnsworth had critically injured Ramirez through the vicissitudes of baseball fortune, what was to be his penalty? A five game suspension, twenty-five, fifty? Burn in hell? Well, we shall never know.
But imaging this rule came into place. Following the purpose pitch ("the purpose being to separate the head from the shoulders"), the game is immediately halted and the offending pitcher sent up to bat, with a helmet and bat only. The opponents are given one pitch, with impunity, to seek baseball's perversion of justice. No suspensions, no fines, no warnings, no shoulda, coulda, woulda. Just the heroic Kyle Farnsworths of the world against the not-so-random 90 mile per hour fastball. The NHLization of Major League Baseball.
Don't worry Kyle, it will never happen. Throwing at an unprotected human being with intent or even possibility of injury is just wrong. But evidently you never learned that.
Originally published at Red Sox Reality Check.