Baseball fights more appropriate for UFC
The fights seemed more at home inside an octagon than a diamond.
Baseball showed some moxy this week — take me out to the brawl game! — with a pair of bench-clearing melees that had players swinging, striking and settling scores as violently as a pair of MMA fighters.
All that was missing was the pay-per-view hype .
UFC lightweight contender Kevin Lee knows a good fight when he sees one. Lee has a Cy Young-worthy 16-3 record and will fight Edson Barboza in the main event of UFC Fight Night 128 on April 21 in Atlantic City, New Jersey.
The 25-year-old Lee, a Detroit native, never played baseball and sure doesn’t watch the MLB Network during downtime from his training.
“It’s boring as all hell,” he said, laughing.
But even he couldn’t escape the hostility that took place Wednesday in Colorado and Boston.
“Two big ones,” he said. “I love it.”
Before he tries to slap a rear-naked choke on Barboza, Lee helped break down the art of the baseball brawl with The Associated Press, offering some tips for baseball’s bad boys who want to play cage fighter when tensions rise over beanballs or raised spikes.
The Rockies were wild — accidentally or intentionally — and hit San Diego’s Manuel Margot in the ribs (he went on the disabled list) in the ninth inning of one game and plunked Hunter Renfroe on Wednesday. That marked five Padres batters hit in six games against the Rockies this season.
The Padres had enough. Luis Perdomo threw a pitch behind Nolan Arenado and the All-Star rushed the mound, setting off a brawl that led to five ejections.
“He slammed his bat down and kind of half-assed came at him,” Lee said. “You could see he was loading up the right hand. It’s so easy to see coming. It’s always easier to be on defense than offense.”
Perdomo threw his glove at the bull-rushing Arenado and scampered away from the mound. Arenado connected with a glancing blow over Perdomo’s head.
“As the pitcher, you’ve got to sit there and let the man come to you,” Lee said. “A lot of those guys are angry. Anger clouds the mind and brings emotion into the fight game. You make stupid mistakes. I’d let him come to me and do something stupid.”
Lee said Perdomo should have stood his ground.
“They’re gonna break you up within 30 seconds,” Lee said. “Just a few good punches. I’d grab a hold of him. That’s the rule in any crowd situation. Just grab a hold of somebody and let him have it.”
The Rockies and Padres spilled out of the dugout and pushing and shoving ensued like fighters and their posses needing to be separated at a ceremonial weigh-in scrap.
So what about Arenado? Lee suggested hit batsmen should throw the bat instead of leaving it at the plate.
“Throw it in his general direction. He might flinch or something and take his mind off it,” Lee said. “At the end of the day, it’s a sport. You don’t wish nothing bad on nobody. You don’t get no street cred for that.”
OK, so the pitcher is ready.
A clinch (of locked arms, not the pennant)? A full mount on the mound? A reversal (no replay needed)?
“Go low, right away,” Lee said. “The lower guy wins. The natural instinct is to throw that overhead right but you can see that coming from a mile away.”
The Red Sox-Yankees skirmish — which resulted in two players suspended for a total of 11 games — started on a slide. The Red Sox were upset with Tyler Austin after he slid late into second in the third inning and his spikes caught Red Sox second baseman Brock Holt, who had leaned away from the bag after receiving the throw from third baseman Rafael Devers for the forceout.
“You just don’t get no cred for that from me. It’s like a using a weapon,” Lee said of the spikes. “What are we doing here?”
Red Sox reliever Joe Kelly later threw at Austin twice. The first pitch missed, but the second one drilled him in the back. The designated hitter then charged the mound, prompting both benches to empty.
Maybe Lee should volunteer to lead an MLB version of “The Ultimate Fighter.”
“This is Grade A coaching right here,” Lee said, laughing. “Baseball players get paid a lot of money. They need to holler at me in Vegas.”