That First Pitch

The World Series got off to a chippy start last night when Syndergaard buzzed a first pitch high and inside by Alcides Escobar’s head.

The first thing that came to my mind was this:

The second thing I wondered is if the volatile Ventura would take the bait. Judging by the subsequent pitches to Escobar, it was clear that first pitch was intentional. Escobar has been aggressive at the plate, swinging at first pitches on pretty much every at bat, and the high and inside approach worked, resulting in a strike out. That first pitch was angry, and the Royals were understandably upset, yawing from their dugout.

After the game, Syndergaard confirmed that pitch was intentional.  From MLB.com:

“I mean, my first words to [catcher] Travis [d’Arnaud] when we walked in the clubhouse today was, ‘How do you feel about high and tight for the first pitch?'” Syndergaard said. “I mean, I certainly wasn’t trying to hit the guy, that’s for sure. I just didn’t want him getting too comfortable. If they have a problem with me throwing inside, then they can meet me 60 feet, 6 inches away. I’ve got no problem with that.

“I know that from the past, I think every postseason game Escobar has played in, he has swung at the first-pitch fastball, and I didn’t think he would want to swing at that one.”

Throwing tight and inside is a necessary part of the game, but throwing at somebody’s head on purpose–that’s dirty. What do y’all think?

Oh, by the way. The Mets won, 9-3. The Royals lead the Series, 2-1.

25 thoughts on “That First Pitch

  1. If you don’t have the control to go high and tight without jeopardizing someone’s career, then don’t it. His cavalier decision to throw a purpose pitch could have done irreparable harm to Escobar that could have effected him for the rest of his life. Doesn’t that ever even cross these idiots’ so-called minds?

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  2. Eh, whatever. Some of these opinions are like saying “never throw high OR inside at all”…no pitcher has enough command to always be within a foot of where he is aiming. May as well outfit the hitters in cricket gear then.

    He threw the pitch high, yes. The pitch was about 6” off the plate and not anywhere near the batters box. He clearly wasn’t throwing at him. Because Escobar is starting to swing before he even sees the pitch, if he’d thrown it lower he would have had a great chance of breaking one of Escobar’s hands even with a pitch that wasn’t in the batters’ box.

    Diving at a pitch so that you don’t have any chance at all to protect yourself or get out of the way of an errant pitch (which is common in baseball, especially for guys that you high leg kicks as timing mechanisms) is like going through a cross walk because the sign says walk without bothering to look for traffic. Yeah, usually it works out, but that doesn’t make it a good idea.

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        1. I didn’t say at his head, but towards his head–as in the general vicinity of his head. At least aim for the torso where there is less likely to be a catastrophic injury.

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    1. I agree 100%, Paper. It was high and in, but at least a foot away from his head on the replays I saw, anyway. Hey, the Royals are THE high and inside throwing team. Ask the A’s or the Jays. I guess they don’t like the taste of their own medicine. Its too bad the Mets were too classy and didn’t gesture across the diamond with the cry baby fists at the eyes treatment that the Royals usually do. It might have made for some group dancing on the infield.

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  3. I’ve watched that three times now, and I don’t see where he threw at his head.

    It was up and in, no doubt. But that’s not the same as throwing at someone’s head.

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  4. Using the preview image from the embedded video in the post….

    Certainly way up high, but that’s not even really inside. It’s right on the chalk. In, but not inside.

    “High and tight” sounds like a pretty perfect description of the pitch. Definitely not a head-hunter pitch.

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    1. This is from a 30 Frames per second real time clip. If you figure Syndergaard’s release point is about 55 feet from the plate, 12 frames would be when it crossed the plate. I stopped at his release point, and 12 frames later, i.e. where the pitch ultimatley went

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    2. I’m sure you realize that’s not where his head was when the pitch was thrown. If you assume he dove down and away from the pitch, it’s not that hard to draw the conclusion that pitch was very, very close to where his head was when the Thor released it.

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      1. I indeed think it’s very easy to draw that conclusion, because knee-jerk hot-take type reactions are always easy.

        Again, up and in is not the same as throwing at someone’s head.

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      2. Per Twitter, Verlander thinks he didn’t have control of the pitch and then capitalized later on the “sending a message” thing when opportunity presented.

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