Does McCann Deserve Condemnation Too?

by Jason Epstein

It seems quite popular to heap scorn on Carlos Gomez for last night’s jawing at Paul Maholm before and after he stroked a home run, but why is there little criticism of Brian McCann for escalating what had been a silly escapade into a bench-clearing brawl? Why wasn’t he ejected from the game? And who crowned the Braves, a club which has been involved in no less than three bench-clearning incidents (Nationals, Marlins) this season, as the enforcer of all so-called unwritten rules?

Craig Calcaterra of NBC Sports’ Hardball Talk tackles these questions in a morning blog post entitled “Stop being slaves to baseball’s stupid macho orthodoxy“:

Just to review, my take on the Braves-Brewers thing last night is that while Carlos Gomez was certainly out of line, Brian McCann and the Braves were too and that they are the ones responsible for what should have been a minor thing turning into a fight that caused punches to be thrown and a player (Aramis Ramirez) to be hurt. McCann’s walking up the baseline to confront Gomez was pretty damn provocative and immature, frankly, and the playoff-bound Braves should be both smarter and better than that.

Oh, and for what it’s worth, Gomez made a full public apology for his behavior after the game. I’ve yet to hear McCann or his teammates do the same. . . .

Fact is, if the Braves had just let Gomez taunt his head off, the only conversation afterward and into today would’ve been how childish and immature Carlos Gomez is. No one would’ve cared. No one would’ve thought less of the Braves. The only people who believe otherwise are the sorts of people who are far too hung up on honor and ego to begin with.

If you want to defend McCann and the Braves’ increasing fixation on the proper behavior by opponents when they hit home runs (see, Jose Fernandez and Bryce Harper) make an argument for such behavior being reasonable on the merits without reference to tradition. And if you do, tell me if you act like that — if you get in people’s faces, preach what is proper and what is not and push things to the point of fisticuffs — when you confront the abundant immaturity all of us see every day in real life.

And if you say that baseball is different and that baseball is not “real life” and is thus subject to its own rules, explain why that should be so.  Because I see no reason why it should be that way, even if everyone has always assumed that it is. …

Oh, and in case you were wondering, Calcaterra is a West Viriginia native who somehow grew up and remains a Braves fan.

Right Field

Brief chronicles of our sporting times.