So why is it news when Ozzie Guillen lets out that managers do tell pitchers to hit batters? In my mind, and there are sports purists out there who will think this is blasphemy, this was a given. I have watched it from Little League to high school through college and pros. I have seen the pitches that could be nothing but intentional.
My daughter was a huge baseball player. Much to the chagrin of the Little League board and the boys on the team that wanted her off so they could play, she continued playing baseball until age 15. She stopped at that point in time as teener league was split in two age groupings and, while her fielding and base running were still better than most of the boys, her ability to stand in the box was being compromised by the fact she was a girl. Pitchers would take shots at her figuring they could scare her. She never moved. Talk about HBP. She was hit by pitches numerous times. That was not nearly as disturbing as being hit by fielded balls as they were thrown at her as opposed to the base player.
If pitching at the batter is prevalent – regardless of reason – in this level of sports, I can only imagine that it is prevalent at higher levels. I have found that poor sportsmanship tends to be a top down concept. The players start out just there for the game, the love of the game. They move on as told to by those above them – coaches, managers, owners – to being there for the money (even in college because what is a sports scholarship other than payment to play but that is fodder for another blog post) and doing what those above them tell them to do.
Do I think Ozzie Guillen was wrong in admitting he sometimes tells a pitcher to hit a batter? No. Do I think Ozzie Guillen was wrong to tell a pitcher, to start with, to hit a batter? Yes. Should he be punished for being honest? No. Should he be punished if the offense can be proved? Yes.