In MLB breaking news, Nick Castellanos has been suspended for two games and fined an undisclosed amount. The punishment comes after a benches-clearing altercation in the Sunday contest between the Cincinnati Reds and St. Louis Cardinals.
Major League Baseball announced the suspension with the intention that it would begin tonight against the Pittsburgh Pirates. Thanks to the collective bargaining agreement fought for by the Players Association, Castellanos has the right to appeal, and he has exercised that right. As a result, Castellanos will be in the lineup for the contest in Cincinnati.
Five other players also were fined at undisclosed amounts, namely Yadier Molina, Nolan Arenado, and Jordan Hicks of the Cardinals, Eugenio Suarez, and Jesse Winker of the Reds. It is unclear if these players will appeal the financial punishments.
MLB Breaking News: The Fight That Wasn’t
The incident that led to the suspension and fines occurred in the fourth inning of the April 4 contest. In the preceding second game of the opening series, Castellanos belted a home run off Jack Flaherty and celebrated by skipping and tossing his bat with flair.
The Redbirds were sensitive to the right fielder’s festive antics. Having taken umbrage, the Cardinals battery apparently elected to harm Castellanos physically the next afternoon. On the first pitch, Jake Woodford hurled a fastball straight into Castellanos’s ribs. Catcher Yadier Molina appeared to deny intent, but circumstances and actions arguably lead to the contrary conclusion.
The Cincinnati slugger responded by protesting, picking up the offending ball, and tossing it toward the Reds’ dugout before taking his base.
Thanks to successful turns at-bat by his teammates, Castellanos advanced to third. On a wild pitch, he raced toward home. In a sliding play at the plate, he safely scored a run. As he emerged out of his slide, Castellanos flexed in triumph over the defeated, slumped form of Flaherty. Reds fans at Great American Ballpark and across the television and streaming country cheered in approval.
Molina’s feelings appeared hurt by this display, and the veteran catcher leaped in support of his pitcher to shove Castellanos from behind. The Reds’ Mike Moustakas and others intervened before further violence could occur.
Shoving and grabbing continued for some time. Benches cleared. At one point, Winker appeared to grab as many as three Cardinals players at once. Play resumed without a true fight having occurred.
Unwritten rules stifling the game
Major League Baseball exists as a vehicle for the best baseball players in the world to compete against one another. Simultaneously, MLB strives to put forward an on-field product to entertain fans, fill seats, and sell merchandise. These two dual purposes came into conflict Sunday, as they often do when baseball’s so-called unwritten rules are violently enforced by offended players.
In MLB, celebrations like bat-tossing (and apparently skipping) are considered excessive and offensive by many players and some fans. This is not inherently true. In the Korean Baseball Organization, bat flips are encouraged. Fans relish seeing their heroes celebrate success on the way to hopeful team victories. Players are not offended by their opponents’ displays of joy and instead work to achieve their own success.
Many MLB players today are rebelling against this stifling (or respectful, depending on one’s point of view) culture. They love the game, and they want to celebrate their successes. These triumphant displays appear tailor-made for this era’s version of prime-time: the viral sensation. Fernando Tatis, Junior’s late-inning grand slam, Javier Baez’s pre-tag celebrations, and now Castellanos’s skip have the entertainment value needed to garner attention for the national pastime in a crowded media landscape.
Management’s decision to punish Castellanos for his display of joy while ignoring Flaherty’s alleged intentional act of physical harm does not seem to fit the most viable long-term strategy for the game. If MLB wants to encourage the youth of today to play ball or become fans, the organization would be wise to reward joyful exuberance. A world where MLB breaking news features these displays is one where baseball becomes a more discussed and enjoyed part of American popular culture.
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