Richie Sexson totally redeemed himself in my eyes Thursday night in the Mariners’ game against the Rangers.
Forget the fact that the 6’8” first baseman has had an incredibly lousy start to the season. Forget the fact that he has a .209 batting average and has struck out 36 times in 33 games.
The real fact of the matter is that the guy gave me the best baseball fight I’ve seen in awhile. It was something you would expect to see if you were flipping through channels and landed on WWE.
First, there was an irrational reaction to a fairly normal pitch. Kason Gabbard threw and 89 mph pitch too high for Sexson’s liking, and although Sexson came nowhere close to being hit, he felt that the pitch was meant to be inside and attacked Gabbard.
I know, I know. A few Rangers had gotten hit earlier and so as the announcer said, “Richie wasn’t having any of it,” but that doesn’t change the fact that this ball really didn’t come close to hitting him.
Secondly, I’d like to point out that many amateur batters charging the mound simply drop their bats. That wasn’t nearly good enough for Sexson. With total disregard for where the bat may land, Sexson let that thing fly in an act that any javelin thrower would be impressed with.
Next, Sexson made good use of props in this brawl, removing his batting helmet while charging the mound and planting it in Gabbard’s back, though it appeared Sexson was aiming for his head. While I can’t imagine getting hit with a helmet could hurt too much, I’m reminded that the man that threw it was Sexson, a 240-pounder with a lot of power. It probably stung a little.
The fight continued with Sexson punching Gabbard in the head before Texas catcher Gerald Laird, who had actually gotten plunked earlier in the game, tackled Sexson from behind, planting his face into the ground.
After the traditional clearing of the benches and clearing of the bullpens, the final ingredient needed for a wonderful Major League Baseball confrontation came into play. Milton Bradley. Bradley however, seemed to be playing more of a peaceful role, picking up Laird, setting him down away from the brawl and actually reprimanding him for fighting.
In fact, the only thing that could’ve made this fight any better would’ve been if Bradley and Sexson had squared off one-on-one at some point.
In an interview with ESPN, Sexson told the story from his point of view.
“It’s a rage at that point,” he said. “I mean you get out to the mound, I know throwing the helmet, that’s a wrong thing. It’s a chicken **** move.
“I know in the end that wasn’t the right thing to do, but I lost it right there. I just got to thinking about a lot of things, you know? And the whole time I was going up to the plate I said ‘I don’t mind getting hit, just keep it down.’”