The Lost Art Of Charging The Mound
Inspiration hit this morning as I watched Kevin Youkilis charge the mound after Rick Porcello struck him right between the numbers with a fastball during last night’s game. Every time a ball player charges the mound at a pitcher I think back to all of the other classic bench clearing brawls and try to compare them against each other. Not many of the recent brawls live up to some of their classic counterparts. Our most recent example happened last night in the Red Sox/Tigers game. After being hit on back to back nights Kevin Youkilis charged the mound and the benches cleared. Youkilis wasn’t the only batter plunked in last night’s game, the bean ball actually started on Monday night when both Miguel Cabrera and Brandon Inge were hit along with Kevin Youkilis, and on Tuesday night it continued as Cabrera and Youkilis were both hit again in the second inning.
Now I don’t think that Youkilis was in the wrong by charging the mound, I mean come on Porcello just one batter earlier threw just a bit inside to Victor Martinez nearly hitting him, but it was the way the Red Sox third baseman chose to handle himself as he made the decision to charge the mound. As the pain set in after being pegged in the back by a mid-90’s fastball for the second time in as many games Youkilis took one step towards first base, then stopped, dropped his bat and headed toward the mound. Everything up to this point was by the book; it’s what he decided to do once he got in range of the Tiger’s 20 year old right-hander. Now within a few feet of Rick Porcello, Youkilis takes off his helmet and throws it at his opponent and then proceeds to try and tackle him like an all-pro linebacker. This plan quickly backfires as Youkilis has the tables turned as Porcello does his best UFC impression by hip tossing Youkilis to the ground. After this the benches cleared nothing further ensued, no punches were thrown, no bench coaches were thrown to the ground by their head a la the classic Don Zimmer vs. Pedro Martinez.
Kevin Youkilis is not the only ball player to not have the best plan when charging the mound. There have been plenty of other mishaps in the history of professional baseball mound charging, but the worst one that comes to mind is when Robin Ventura decided to charge the mound at Nolan Ryan. When this happened Robin Ventura was in his prime and Nolan Ryan was in the later stages of his career, although Ryan was still dealing when he was a member of the Texas Rangers. When I see highlights of this classic, I can’t help but think of Nolan Ryan as Clint Eastwood’s character in Gran Torino, and Ventura as one of the punk kids that Mr. Eastwood wants off his lawn or this case, his mound. Same type of start to this story as Youkilis vs. Porcello but way different ending; as Ventura charges he takes the same road as Youkilis and tries to tackle Ryan, but the 46 year old pitcher grabs the 26 year old third baseman and starts unmercifully beating on the top of his head, with his pitching hand nonetheless! This in my opinion was the biggest mistake of Robin Ventura’s career and the best mound charging incident I’ve ever had the pleasure to see.
If Kevin Youkilis ever feels the need to defend himself or his teammates again hopefully he reviews some classic tapes and take some notes, but not from Robin Ventura.
Photo: AP Photo/Elise Amendola
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