Ubaldo Jimenez Suspended Five Games

The feud between Ubaldo Jimenez and Troy Tulowitzki reached a tipping point this past weekend. After an off-season in which the two took shots at each other through the media, Jimenez hit Tulowitzki with a fastball during a Spring Training game and nearly caused a brawl. While no one was ejected during the game, Bud Selig — who was there — took matters into his own hands. After Selig reviewed the incident, he suspended Jimenez for five days. While Major League Baseball may be trying to curb violence in the game, it’s unclear whether this was the right decision.

The decision to suspend Jimenez is a strange one considering the circumstances. MLB often goes to great lengths to protect its umpires. Home plate umpire Clint Fagan came to the conclusion that the incident didn’t warrant an ejection. While Fagan didn’t have the advantage of replay, his decision seemed to indicate that he didn’t see the situation progressing to something more extreme. In situations where the umpire does not issue any ejections, MLB rarely gets involved.

That’s why it’s so surprising that MLB jumped in and suspended Jimenez. By choosing to punish the pitcher for his actions, MLB is also saying that Fagan might not have made the right decision. If that’s the case, Selig must have seen or heard something that convinced him that Jimenez intentionally threw at Tulowitzki.

It would be pretty tough for MLB to definitively prove Jimenez intentionally threw at Tulowitzki. There were certainly reasons to think Jimenez may have done it intentionally, but there’s almost no way to prove it. It’s certainly suspicious considering there was bad blood between the two players. And it’s highly questionable that the ball slipped out of Jimenez’s hand when Tulowitzki was at the plate. At the same time, throwing a 90 mph pitch at an exact location isn’t easy. Pitchers miss their targets and hit batters. Jimenez said as much in his post-game comments, explaining that he was trying to pitch inside on Tulo and that the ball just got away from him. While this is exactly what Jimenez should have said — especially because it would be incredibly stupid to admit you threw at a guy — there’s no way to prove whether he intended to hit Tulowitzki or merely brush him back.

Selig, however, had the advantage of being able to watch video of the incident. Here’s where things get tricky.

If you watch the video, you’ll notice that immediately after the pitch hits Tulowitzki, both players throw aside their bat/glove and start provoking each another. While you can’t prove that Jimenez’s pitch was on purpose, you can prove that both players attempted to escalate the situation. For that reason, it’s not a surprise Selig decided to suspend Jimenez. He not only hit Tulowitzki, but he also provoked him afterwards.

It is strange, though, that Tulo escaped from this incident unscathed. He instigated the near-brawl just as much as Jimenez after he was hit. If MLB decided Jimenez’s actions were bad enough to warrant a suspension, they should have given Tulowitzki a similar suspension for the same reasons.

Bud Selig has spoken. While we don’t have all of the facts, it seems nearly impossible to prove that Jimenez intended to hit Tulowitzki. The situation is incredibly fishy, but we have to accept that accidents can happen, no matter how easy it is to blame Jimenez. The way both players reacted following the pitch was unacceptable. If this is the reason MLB suspended Jimenez, then it’s entirely justified. If that’s the case, though, Tulowitzki is lucky to have come away from this fiasco with just a sore elbow.




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Chris is a blogger for CBSSports.com. He has also contributed to Sports on Earth, the 2013 Hard Ball Times Baseball Annual, ESPN, FanGraphs and RotoGraphs. He tries to be funny on twitter @Chris_Cwik.


98 Responses to “Ubaldo Jimenez Suspended Five Games”

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  1. Nick V says:

    A thinking person can’t watch that video and see anything other than Ubaldo intentionally hitting Tulowitzki. Pitchers who accidentally hit batters don’t immediately run off the mound like a crazy person at the batter they just hit. The uproar about this totally obvious event/aftermath (Tulo shouldn’t be suspended, Ubaldo maybe should) is the result of real-baseball withdrawal…

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    • NS says:

      There is a plausible scenario here in which Jimenez plans to pitch inside, does not plan to hit Tulo, but is ok with it if he does hit him. Knowing this possibility in advance – and knowing about the ongoing feud already – when the pitch hits and Tulo immediately begins to approach the mound, it wouldn’t be surprising for Jimenez to engage.

      In other words, Ubaldo’s post-pitch behavior isn’t necessarily evidence that he intended to hit Tulowitzki. Punishing a pitcher for a HBP like this is absurd imo and if the punishment is for behavior after the pitch, both players should have been suspended.

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      • CircleChange11 says:

        As a former pitcher who instigated his share of incidents, I find these comments to be naive at best, hilarious at worst.

        When you say “It’s possible”, we could add anything after that, including demonic possession, aliens taking over his mind, an evil genius using microsonic sounds to control UJ’s brain (1st bean Tulo, then kill the queen), or anything else.

        Yeah, it’s all “possible”.

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      • NS says:

        The word was plausible, quite different from possible. What a ridiculous attempt.

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    • NS says:

      And to be clear, I don’t think anyone should be punished. This is pretty standard baseball stuff; it just happened between two guys that want to fight.

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      • Shane H says:

        “There is a plausible scenario here in which Jimenez plans to pitch inside, does not plan to hit Tulo, but is ok with it if he does hit him”

        “Standard baseball stuff”

        These atitudes need to change. Just because it has been excepted and a cultural norm since Abner Doubleday himself does not make it Ethical in our society today.

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      • NS says:

        ^That’s true. But if you’re advocating a change (especially based on the ethics) I think it’s you who needs to make an argument, not me. What is unethical about it?

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      • Colin says:

        Right on point NS. Also if there is suddenly a change in accepted behavior wouldn’t the commissioner’s office gives players some form of due process by putting them on notice before issuing suspensions?

        The whole situation smells of favoritism. I doubt very much this will signify some grandiose change in policy.

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  2. Slats says:

    I think the way he bolted off the mound before Tulowitzki took a step forward is enough proof. He should be banned for five starts!

    I guess living in Cleveland is enough punishment though.

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    • Uruguay says:

      You think he deserves to be suspended for over a month for that? You’re crazy. That’s less time than anyone involved in last year’s insane Reds-Cards brawl got. And it’s not like he threw at Tulo’s head, knocked him out and then charged the plate and beat his unconscious body… it takes two to tango, and as much as I love Troy, he’s totally guilty here too.

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    • Colin says:

      Yes ban a pitcher for fives starts for something commonplace in baseball. Makes plenty of sense. Considering Weaver only got 1 start for throwing at somebody’s head last year I think you’re more than a little off base.

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      • Jason says:

        Ubaldo got five games = 1 start. Not five starts. This is pretty routine and certainly warranted.

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      • Colin says:

        @Jason, read Slate’s post again, he says he should get “5 starts”.

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      • Jason says:

        From the article:

        ” After Selig reviewed the incident, he suspended Jimenez for five days.”

        He will miss a single start as is customary for starting pitchers determined to be intentionally throwing at hitters.

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      • NS says:

        ^Yes, I think we all got that. But you are responding to a response to a comment, not to the article. That comment reads: “He should be banned for five starts”.

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      • Jason says:

        Ah,

        My bad. Thanks for pointing out my confusion, NS.

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  3. Psst says:

    I agree with swick Tulowitzki should be suspended for tossing his bat aside angrily after getting drilled.

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    • CircleChange11 says:

      Yeah, he should accept it with a smile and skip down to first base while humming zippidy-do-dah.

      Have any of you guys been beaned with a 90mph pitch before? What if it comes from a guy that you know doesn’t like you?

      I’d be more than pissed and I think slamming your bat down is perfectly acceptable.

      Suspended for tossing his bat aside angrily? Suspending someone for a natural human reaction. I’m sure we’d all support similar punishments at our workplaces.

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  4. Eminor3rd says:

    GUYS! You’re both on my Ottoneu team! GET ALONG!

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  5. Cody says:

    Pause the video immediately after the 0:05 second mark. Tulo clearly took a step toward the mound and was running his mouth before Ubaldo finished his follow through.

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    • GeoffM says:

      That’s what I see too. This could just be the case of Selig not wanting to suspend a superstar.

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      • Psst says:

        Who got hit? Tulo didn’t charge the mound and could just as easily argue he was stepping toward 1st. hard to suspend a guy for yelling at somebody who just plunked him.

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      • Colin says:

        The crux of the argument as to why Ubaldo got suspended, or at least from the pro suspension people I’ve seen post, is that Ubaldo got suspended because he escalated the situation by tossing his mitt down and running at him. So Tulo seems to be just as culpable with regard to escalating a bench clearing situation.

        Nobody I have seen has said, ‘well he threw at him therefore he should be suspended.’ Of course just suspending somebody for plunking them in the side would be borderline absurd so the pro suspension group needs something else to justify it. So they pick something for which Tulo is also culpable. Then they seem to fail to comprehend what they have just said has also implicated Tulo as well. Which is why the argument fails in its entirety and why Cwik is right on point with this article.

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      • Psst says:

        Intentionally plunking someone gets you a five game suspension that is pretty standard, the fact that Ubaldo threw down immediately is the reason most people are seeing this as intentional it is as simple as that.

        Throwing your bat down and yelling at someone who just drilled you with a fastball is not traditionally a suspendable offense.

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      • NS says:

        ^It’s not at all standard for there to be a suspension when there was no in-game disciplinary measure of any kind.

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      • monkey business says:

        When you accidentally hit someone, it’s your job to cool the situation off, not run and thump your chest. Similarly, when a pitcher hits a guy, he needs to do the equivalent of say, “sorry.”

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      • NS says:

        ^Not if he is interested in fighting the guy.

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      • Doug Lampert says:

        Sorry, ACTING in ways that can only be justified by claiming he’s interested in fighting the guy immediately after hitting him with a 90MPH fastball is seriously good evidence of an intentional hit batsman.

        The suspention is totally warented. Batters get a free pass on a step toward the mound BECAUSE they’ve just been hit.

        Trying to give the pitcher a free pass on half a dozen steps toward home right after he hits someone on the same grounds of emotion is starkly insane.

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      • NS says:

        More of the same “if you don’t get it, you’re crazy” stuff. Just show your work. When you phrase it like that, it sounds like your “work” is actually just an assumption.

        What you said is true iff it is true that the pitcher hit the batter intentionally. If it wasn’t intentional, the batter is the one instigating by walking towards the mound. It makes sense in that case to punish both or neither.

        I vote for neither. Tulo is justifiably angry and Ubaldo is justified in responding when Tulo comes toward the mound. Ultimately nothing happened; no one is hurt. It’s baseball.

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      • kozilla says:

        I feel like Ubaldo got what he deserved. The fact that he threw down his glove seems to suggest it was intentional. Tulo reacted poorly but he was not the one who most likely intentionally plunked a batter, instead he was the one hit. The fact that Ubaldo escalated the situation seems to support the idea that it was intentional. Tulo escalating the situation seems much less egregious as he was reacting to what seems like an obvious intentional plunking. That is why I think it is fair to suspend Ubaldo and not Tulo.

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      • NS says:

        ^You are blending in your assumptions. Ubaldo’s post-pitch behavior is evidence that he wanted to fight Tulo. What immediately preceded that behavior was not the pitch itself, but aggressiveness from Tulo in response to the pitch.

        If there were no pre-existent bad blood, this willingness to fight would be hard to explain and would make the HBP more likely to have been intentional. But we know there was.

        Again, a completely plausible scenario is one in which Ubaldo intends to pitch inside, hits him, and is happy to fight about it. In that situation, he would do exactly what he did. So you cannot say that his post-pitch behavior is evidence of his intention to hit Tulo with the pitch. It’s evidence of his intention to hit Tulo in the face. With his fist.

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    • Will says:

      That’s true, but Ubaldo escalates further by throwing his glove off, and running towards Tulo while urging him to ‘bring it on’. While he’s certainly guilty of running his mouth off, Tulo never came across as physically threatening Ubaldo.

      Ubaldo just hit Tulo, THEN rand towards him while encouraging a physical altercation.

      Tulo isn’t free of guilt, but it’s very clear who the instigator was in this situation, regardless of Ubaldo’s initial intentions.

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    • Snapper says:

      Well, yeah, but he’s the guy that just got plunked by a 90+ MPH pitch. He has a right to be mad, he was in pain.

      What’s Jimenez’s excuse?

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      • Colin says:

        He’s pitching inside and it ran on him? I mean seriously he needs an excuse for something that happens everyday?

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      • Doug Lampert says:

        NO, he needs an excuse for throwing off his glove and heading for home plate after hitting the guy.

        He hasn’t got one.

        The only excuse that’s been offered is that he wanted a physical confrontation. And he’d just hit the guy with a 90MPH fastball.

        5 games is a very light punishment.

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    • John says:

      Yeah, maybe because he just INTENTIONALLY got hit!

      lol

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  6. dustin says:

    As an Ubaldo owner for 3 more seasons, I’m just happy he hit what he was aiming at for once.

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    • CircleChange11 says:

      That’s what I was thinking. It’s an encouraging sign for the Indians.

      Baseball brawls are still embarrassing. All that drama and in regards to fighting, well, nothing really happened. A guy threw his bat down and stared, and another guy tossed his glove off, walked quickly to the location while waving his arms, and in the end no punches were thrown. Welcome to 4th grade recess.

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  7. dbake005 says:

    I wonder who wins that fight?

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  8. satanorsanta says:

    My only problem with the issue is Jimenez leaving the mound. HBP is part of baseball, fighting is part of hockey

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    • Colin says:

      Pitchers don’t leave the mound when batters gesture at them angrily? I mean heck, I remember one Roger Clemens throwing part of a bat at Piazza for no apparent reason. I don’t think he got suspended for that?

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      • GeoffM says:

        In Roger’s defense, the B12 injection tricked his brain into thinking the piece of the bat was really the ball…or something like that.

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      • John says:

        So one stupid action should clear the way for another?

        Brilliant!

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      • Colin says:

        @John, did I say that or are you just putting words that you like in my mouth?

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    • kozilla says:

      HBP’s are obviously part of the game. Intentional plunkings are a completely different matter. There is more than enough evidence to suggest Ubaldo did it intentionally (while we will never know for sure) so I think Tulo’s reaction was not to something that happens every day in baseball, instead he was reacting to what I view as Ubaldo’s egregious show of disrespect to his former team. One of the most classless acts in sports I have seen in awhile.

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  9. bvillebaron says:

    Not a big Jimenez fan, but his suspension under these circumstances is bogus, totally bogus. Although I didn’t see it, I understand that Jesus Montero got hit on the HEAD yesterday by one of the Rockies’ pitchers. Is he facing a suspension too?

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    • Dandy Salderson says:

      Agreed. The only embarrassing thing that happened here was Tulo and Jim Tracy’s response.

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    • kevin says:

      I saw this on TV. Escalona threw a BREAKING BALL that got away. In addition, the bases were loaded with Mariners. Anyone who believes that this was an intentional pitch to hit Montero is a fool…

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  10. dbake005 says:

    You say that as if Tulo didn’t throw his bat down and walk towards Ubaldo

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    • Dandy Salderson says:

      Well, THAT is ok, Tulo being so clean cut and all. But thugs like Ubaldo need to be disciplined. Completely different situations there.

      /sark

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      • Colin says:

        Selig will suspend the dominican thuggery right out of him. Either that or he’ll be able to throw strikes again and be immune from punishment due to a bump to ‘superstar’ status.

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  11. wahooo says:

    It all strikes me as a non-issue. The 5 games suspension amounts to almost nothing–just a single start. Selig got to send his message, Tracy and Tulo get to feel better and Jimenez gets to start game 6. Whether intentional or not, it won’t make a bit of difference to either team.

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    • TK says:

      actually, he will appeal and all it will cost him is one day, a start for the fifth starter, and a big chunk of money.

      I think society has gone too far over the post modern edge when you think a first pitch fastball right at a guy you were fighting with in the media followed by running at him is not on purpose. Only an Indians fan or Ubaldo’s mom would make that argument. This halfway, both guys are wrong crap is lazy. Put your brain on and think about what happened. The .01% chance that this was an accident is no reason to not suspend him. If the punishment were years in prison, maybe. But you have to get this shit out of the game and the only way to do that is suspensions when it seems painfully obvious that one person intentionally thew a baseball 90 MPH at another person.

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      • TK says:

        The link seems to support my pulled-out-of-my-ass guestimation. Honestly, him charging towards Tulo afterwards removed all the reasonable doubt in my opinion. It looked to the other 725 MLB players not on Cleveland like he did this on purpose (and likewise to all non-Indians fans); you have to suspend him.

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      • Colin says:

        It supports it if you raise the probability of intent to an unreasonably high level. Considering the probability of an accidental occurrence, that in an of itself is probably unreasonable.

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      • TK says:

        I think you would be right if Ubaldo didn’t run towards Tulo pretty much as soon as he finished his delivery. To me, that allows for a very high P(I) and therefore supports the .01% I guestimated.

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  12. Krog says:

    I wonder if this is a response by Selig to the NFL cracking down on violence. Roger Goodell has grabbed the authority to do whatever the hell he wants to do when it comes to suspensions. Perhaps Selig wants the ability to suspend players at will, increasing the power of the Commissioner’s office at the expense of the player’s union.

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    • CircleChange11 says:

      Aren’t there some folks that think everything MLB does is in response to what the NFL does?

      Now, Selig is going to look for a manager that ordered a retaliation HBP and suspend him for the year, fine the organization, and take away the teams top draft picks.

      I mean they have to. The NFL did.

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  13. Colin says:

    To me this sends the wrong message of, “Don’t intentionally throw at superstar players.” How many times has a pitcher been suspended for plunking Joe Smoe AAA player? How many times has it probably already happened this spring. This sends the message that a double standard exists.

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    • John says:

      No.

      It sends a message – Don’t start a war-of-words in public with another player, then hit him on purpose with the first pitch, the next time you face him.

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  14. Hurtlockertwo says:

    Tulowitzki will get payback at some point I’m sure, baseball feuds have a long shelf life it seems. Jimenez was just a little too obvious, if he had hit him with the second pitch it would have put a whole different spin on the situation. MLB pitchers only make about 33-34 starts per year anyway, missing one start is nothing.

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  15. Jason says:

    There is nothing out of the ordinary about this. While HBP are a routing part of baseball, MLB also routinely suspends pitchers whom they think intentionally hit or throw at a batter. Obviously, MLB cannot “prove” intent (not sure why there needed to be such a long column about this). However, MLB uses prior information to determine if intent is likely. These two players have a public history of feuding. MLB is justified in believing Jimenez’ intent was to hit Tulo. He misses a start. Life goes on.

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    • GeoffM says:

      Well, does that mean Ubaldo can’t throw inside to Tulo anymore? This is going to happen from time to time when a pitcher throws inside.

      The problem is MLB never has to prove intent, which is the opposite of how the law operates.

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      • Jason says:

        It means he has to pitch inside with some caution. This is normal too. When benches are warned, for example, it often takes away the inside part of the plate for pitchers.

        In practice Jimenez will probably not get to face Tulowitziki so it is a moot point.

        MLB rules enforcement does not operate like our legal system. Nor could it. Nor should it.

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    • Colin says:

      All it takes is evidence the two players do not like each other? That’s absurd. Normally the MLB determines intent from in game situations not from something so arbitrary.

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      • Jason says:

        There is nothing arbitrary about a known history of bad blood.

        Usually MLB determines intent from in game situations because that is typically how these things start, not because they have a policy of ignoring things that happened outside of the particular game. Jiminez and Tulo were teammates so it is not surprising that their bad blood does not stem from an in game situation.

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      • GeoffM says:

        Jason, you can pitch inside with caution all you like, and you can still bean a guy. I’ve played countless baseball games and I can say this with a 100% confidence level.

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      • NS says:

        ^But Ubaldo is known for his pinpoint control.

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      • Jason says:

        GeofM,

        No kidding. You can even pitch outside with caution and end up beaning a guy!

        However, there may be consequences even if it was truly unintentional if the players have a bad history. This is just part of the game. I’ve played countless baseball games and I can say this with 100% confidence. ….of course my confidence doesn’t come from having played baseball games, it comes from having watched countless MLB games (of which I’ve not played in any…).

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  16. John says:

    Whole lotta STUPID going on in here today.

    Didn’t know we had so many CLE fans on here.

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  17. Mario Mendoza of commenters says:

    Did Ubaldo finally get his fastball up over 94MPH on that pitch?

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  18. DavidL says:

    We can take this anyway we want. I love Tulo, should’ve won at least two MVP-s since 2007. I watched the video three times, and it seems Tulo threw his bat while walking to the mound a few seconds before Ubo threw away his glove.

    Maybe Selig has good Jewish friends, and they are pissed that some Latino guy harmed they homie. I’m not saying anything was racial, but Chris here said, there’s nothing to prove that Jimenez provoked while Tulo didn’t. We can take anyway we want. It’s not a case for Selig to make, but the umpire at the moment.

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    • Psst says:

      Tulowitzki is Jewish? What a weird, stupid thing to say.

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    • kozilla says:

      I seriously hope you are kidding about the Anti Semitic stuff. I had really hoped that a place like Fangraphs would be above spinning crazy webs of conspiracy. And if you were joking, I am not amused. FYI I am not Jewish in case you were wondering, just someone who dislikes stupidity.

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  19. reillocity says:

    It’s amazing that so many think Selig had a hand in doling out the suspension. Can’t we just accept that his job is by and large a ceremonial position?

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  20. Jordan says:

    Ubaldo drilled Tulo. Tulo’s reaction was within the realm of normality. Ubaldo’s was not. End of story. If you don’t see it that way, you need more than just your eyes checked.

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  21. soladoras says:

    It’s difficult to be surprised at the disciplinary actions of commissioners at this point, given the low, low bar Roger Goodell has set for the NFL in recent years. In fact, Goodell’s actions probably provide cover for Selig to take arbitrary actions like this.

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  22. adohaj says:

    Of course he hit Tulo on purpose. If the pitcher is punished the batter should be punished too. I bet if Tulo put his head down and went to first Ubaldo wouldn’t have charged. Tulo just needs to do a takeout slide at second to prove his point. Also was their later retaliation by the Rockies pitchers?

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  23. Nats Fan says:
    FanGraphs Supporting Member

    I am shocked Ubaldo was suspended. This was not even close to the headhunting Clemens and Pedro Martinez and other pitchers of the past regularly engaged in. Clemens nearly went to the hall of fame because he lived for creating terror in batters through his chin music. A batter in fear of you can’t hit you. Ubaldo walked 5 guys that day and was not in control of his pitches. It is very possible he did not intend to hit anyone. Besides the game polices itself. If the Rockies feel it was intentional then they can hit an Indian later that game.

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    • kozilla says:

      Incidents like this make me wish AL pitchers had to bat more often. Anyone know if the Indians and Rocks face off during inter-league play this year?

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  24. Matty Brown says:

    I have a feeling this is a knee-jerk reaction by the MLB to deal with the increasing use of the media and moreover, social media by players to dig and insult other players. They are probably trying to say they are not cool wit dat.

    (disclaimer: I did not read any comments above, so this may have already been said)

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  25. CircleChange11 says:

    Home plate umpire Clint Fagan came to the conclusion that the incident didn’t warrant an ejection.

    That’s a separate issue. I think MLB could be justified in asking the ump how he didn;t issue an ejection.

    Let’s see pitcher beans a batter he doesn;t like. Walks toward the batter and then starts pushing the batter. Yeah, the ball probably slipped out of hand.

    It is strange, though, that Tulo escaped from this incident unscathed. He instigated the near-brawl just as much as Jimenez after he was hit. If MLB decided Jimenez’s actions were bad enough to warrant a suspension, they should have given Tulowitzki a similar suspension for the same reasons.

    No way. Spinning around and looking at a pitcher that just threw a baseball at you is nowhere near the same as everything Ubaldo did.

    Some of these threads are outright befuddling.

    Ubaldo’s actions were about as obvious as it gets.

    1. Throw baseball at batter.
    2. Throw glove and wave arms in the air.
    3. Walk all the way from the mound to the batter’s box.
    4. Push the batter when you get there (but make sure the ump is between you when you do it).

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    • NS says:

      “Let’s see pitcher beans a batter he doesn;t like. Walks toward the batter and then starts pushing the batter.”

      Yeah, that’s an honest and accurate recap. Nothing important omitted. Who are you kidding? The video is posted on this page. You can re-tell the story in the light of your preferred narrative, but we can all see what actually happened.

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  26. CircleChange11 says:

    Add-On: Tulo could get some suspension days as well …. he did take some steps toward the pitcher, when you watch the video. He didn’t just throw his bat down and stare.

    UJ intentionally plunked a batter with a runner on 1st, that was running on the pitch. Voila. He was preventing the hit and run. That UJ, always thinking ahead.

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  27. L.UZR says:

    He threw 3259 pitches last year, hitting 9 batsmen. Lets see…

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