If one of your co-workers started a fight, would you have their back? It's not a hypothetical that most of us have to consider, but in the weird world of baseball, you never really know. A fight like what we saw involving the Orioles and Royals on Tuesday night isn't common, yet neither is it entirely unheard of.
There's little disputing the genesis of the incident. Kansas City's Yordano Ventura blatantly threw a pitch into Manny Machado's back. Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports noted that pitch, 99 miles per hour, was the hardest one Ventura had thrown all night.
O's manager Buck Showalter was firm in the belief that Ventura shook off his catcher wanting to throw a breaking ball in order to launch the fastball. Machado took exception to the pitch and made his way towards the mound to register his displeasure.
A brawl can be thrilling in the moment, but it's not something that is a positive overall. When you get two opposing groups of men running at one another with varying levels of anger, all measure of crazy stuff can occur and it's not good if it results in an injury. An inciting action like Ventura's pitch is also dangerous and can hurt someone.
It would be better for everyone if Machado had not decided to go towards the mound. Better still if Ventura hadn't been throwing at Machado on purpose with his hardest pitch of the night, but as the tea-sipping muppet is always saying on the Internet, that's none of my business.
What happened isn't something that ought to be glorified. It is awfully interesting to break down the reactions of the two teams, though. Team chemistry is one of those slippery concepts that's often brought up in lazy baseball analysis, something that's cited precisely because there's not a lot of ways to prove it or disprove it.
Whatever team chemistry is or isn't worth, the actions of the Orioles team during the fight and their statements afterward seem to make it pretty clear that they've got it in spades, while the Royals, at least as regards Ventura, do not seem to have any such chemistry.
Take the sparking of the brawl. There was no person on the field who was heading into the fray faster than Chris Davis:
NO ONE TOUCHES MY MANNY pic.twitter.com/SDwTofE1pw— Ranting Oriole Bird (@RantingOriole) June 8, 2016
Those are some guys who look like they're ready to rumble. Even Francisco Peña is heading into the fracas - you can tell him by his shinguards - and he's been here for all of a week.
It's quite a contrast compared to the response of Royals catcher Salvador Perez. At the outset of the hostilities, no one was closer to Machado than Perez. Machado did not exactly go at full speed to the mound - a 99mph to the back hurts. Perez could have easily caught Machado from behind, had he chosen to. Instead, this happened:
Nor was Perez the only one who seemed to be fed up with Ventura's antics. The greeting for Ventura in the dugout after the donnybrook was more or less nonexistent:
This probably isn't what you want. pic.twitter.com/vboYXfvDn6— Jared Speckman (@Speck60) June 8, 2016
That's just a bit of a cold reception, wouldn't you say?
In his post-game press conference, Royals manager Ned Yost was asked about whether there might be some frustration from other Royals players towards Ventura. "Ehh," he replied, hemming and hawing, then finished, "Probably."
It seemed to be an uncomfortable presser all around for Yost, who was also asked whose fault he thought the whole situation was. He settled on a mealy-mouthed response of, "I don't know the answer to that."
Showalter was not one for equivocating in his own presser. Asked right off the bat whether he was disappointed in Machado's response to being hit, Showalter immediately replied, "No."
Another reporter asked whether Showalter thought there would be any more problems coming from the Royals in tonight's game. "Bring it on," Showalter said with a shrug.
We saw in Tuesday's game how the Orioles are going to respond if something like that happens again. As Showalter also said, "I didn't have much doubt with how they'd respond." You come at the king, you best not miss.
Hopefully there are no more shenanigans coming. The best way the Orioles can respond is to sweep the series, not do anything that could result in further suspensions or potential injuries. They don't need to be paying the price as they go on to face their division competitors in the coming week.
At least in Machado's case, there might be more than just a suspension coming. He'll probably have to pay a fine as well - or at least, a fine will be levied against him. Machado himself may not be the one paying it, as Adam Jones told reporters he would cover the fine himself.
That's an action that speaks louder than any words, though of course, Jones being Jones, he had plenty of words to say about the situation as well. Jones noted "the reaction by (the Royals), they weren't weren't too happy that (he) did something stupid."
And as far as Machado goes, Jones said, "I'm glad for Manny for defending himself. Someone is trying to hurt you maliciously, you go out there and defend yourself."
Only Ventura can know for sure how much malice there was in a 99mph fastball to the back, but it sure seems like a malicious action, and it's very clear that the Orioles as a team feel like Machado did what he had to do and they don't hold that against him.
There aren't a whole lot of people who I'd sprint across a field to back up in a fight. Each Oriole has 24 guys who he knows will back him up.
Maybe it's not worth anything at all that the Orioles seem to be united in support of one of their teammates being in a fight. It surely doesn't hurt anything either.