Waste not, want not

Like Trevor Bauer in Game One, Luis Castillo’s Game Two effort was wasted by the Reds’ absentee bats and futile running.

Joey Votto said going in that his Cincinnati Reds in the postseason, however rough and tumble things had to be to get them there, would be a “[fornicating] nightmare.” He just didn’t bargain on every man in a Red uniform at the plate or on the bases being their own worst nightmares.

If the Reds wish to remain postseason competitive, waste management means waste avoidance. Because if you don’t avoid waste, no matter how efficient your pitching might be, you’ll get wasted the way the Atlanta Braves wasted the Reds late but imperatively Thursday afternoon.

The Reds’ irregular season’s grind just to claim one of this year’s ten wild cards got wasted, too, even worse than Marcell Ozuna and Adam Duvall wasted relief pitcher Raisel Iglesias’s canteloupes.

Nobody wants to take anything away from the National League East-winning Braves. They clung stubbornly in their wild card set, held on to win Thursday, 5-0, and didn’t let the Reds’ stellar starting pitching blow the spirit out of them no matter how long it took. The Reds made it a little too simple for them in the end.

The Reds won’t live this one down too readily. They’re going to have to try explaining how they became the first team in Show history to be shut out for an entire postseason set, 22 innings worth, even if it was a mere best-of-three.

They’re going to have to try explaining how Trevor Bauer in Game One struck out twelve Braves without walking a soul or surrendering a run, without getting credit for a win, but with the Reds losing in the thirteenth inning on the game’s only run—on a measly RBI single by likely National League Most Valuable Player Freddie Freeman.

They’re going to have to explain how Luis Castillo’s first-ever postseason start produced seven strikeouts in five and a third innings, only one run surrendered, only one batter walked, and Iglesias getting blown up in the eighth after Lucas Sims spelled Castillo with an inning and two-thirds of spotless relief.

Ronald Acuna, Jr. doubling home Austin Riley off Castillo with two out in the fifth only made it 1-0. But Iglesias walking Freeman to open the eighth was flirting with death. Death accepted the invitation when Ozuna found a 1-0 meatball so irresistible he yanked it into the empty left center field seats.

Walking Ozzie Alibes after striking Travis d’Arnaud out following that launch wasn’t advisable, either. How inadvisable came too clear when Duvall licked his chops at an even meatier, 0-2 meatball, and sent it out down the left field line.

“Such a professional hitter,” Braves rookie starting pitcher Ian Anderson said of Ozuna after the game, calling Ozuna the life of the club all year long. “Loves the big moment. And I know it was getting to him a little bit, the way his at-bats had unfolded up until that point. Yeah, he couldn’t have been happier, and we couldn’t have been happier for him. That was a huge hit for the team. You could kind of sense that the dugout relaxed then, just a little bit.”

The Braves now wait to see who wins the win-or-be-gone game between the Miami Marlins and the Chicago Cubs in Wrigley Field, which might have been played Thursday but for the rain saying “not so fast.”

The Reds are also going to have to explain why they couldn’t find more than two hits off Anderson but found their way to nine strikeouts against the rook making his first postseason start following six irregular season assignments and a shimmering 1.95 ERA.

Those thirteen runners the Reds stranded need some explaining, too. So does having nothing to show against three Braves relievers from the seventh through the ninth.

They’re also going to have to explain why a team with baseball’s worst collective batting average (.212) despite a few offensive upgrades last winter couldn’t find ways to avoid becoming baseball’s first to be shut out of an entire postseason series.

How many times did the Reds answer opportunity’s knocking with “Go away, we gave at the office?”

When they greeted Max Fried in Game One with back-to-back singles giving them first and third and nobody out, only to see Votto—Mr. On-Base Machine—ground out to first, Eugenio Suarez line a badminton shuttlecock to Ozzie Albies at second base, and Mike Moustakas ground out?

When manager David Bell thought he could get away with a play that even the Little League won’t try all that often, having Kyle Farmer on first and Aristedes Aquino on third try a double steal the Braves could smell from about five minutes prior to attempt, with Aquino bagged in an even more kiddie-looking rundown?

When Bell sent spaghetti-bat veteran Freddy Galvis out to pinch hit for Shogo Akiyama with two out and two on in the top of the twelfth, despite Akiyama hitting well enough down the stretch to earn the opportunity, and Galvis rewarded Bell for his unexpected faith by looking at strike three right down the middle?

When they spent Game Two with no non Venezuelan-born Red getting a single base hit, and no Red from any geography reaching base between Galvis’s walk in the second and his off-the-pillow base hit up the first base line in the fifth? When no Red from there got so much as a hit by pitch to reach base and seven out of the final thirteen Red batters struck out?

Their number one irregular season issue, their inability to hit in multiples in most innings, swallowed them deeper than the Braves’ own pitching turned out to do.

“You can look at the defensive positioning, you can look at hard-hit balls that didn’t go for hits,” Bell said after the Game Two loss. “But, it’s something we have to take a closer look at because all teams are really good at defensive positioning and can hit into bad luck at times. Why did that happen for us? We just have to really take a close look at it. We did all year. Yeah, I say, we absolutely do believe in our guys, we made adjustments as much as we possibly could. But we have to find a way to get better.”

Right he is. Every Reds position player except for three will be back in 2021, and enough of them will be on the far enough side of thirty years old. They’ll still have most of their solid pitching, though the Braves didn’t get to see Sonny Gray this week, but Bauer could walk into the free agency market this year with as many potential suitors as a debutante.

Another, older Ian Anderson, leading a British band known as Jethro Tull, sang the epitaph for this year’s Reds a little over half a century ago: It was a new day yesterday, but it’s an old day now.

Headhunters ball

Of course our guy didn’t throw at your guy’s attic on purpose. And of course we’ll take that polar beach club off your hands for twice the market value!

A little Saturday rough stuff between the Chicago Cubs and the Cincinnati Reds may or may not be surprising. But is it all that surprising that Angel Hernandez’s umpiring crew sent it near nuclear? Not Hernandez himself, for a change, but still.

The Cubs and the Reds played a doubleheader in Great American Ballpark. Thanks to his performance in the Cubs’ first-game win (3-0), Anthony Rizzo wasn’t exactly the Reds’ favourite person on the day. Neither was Cubs starting pitcher Yu Darvish, who was so effective he could (and did) drop his glove while delivering and still throw a strike.

First, Rizzo wrestled Reds starter Trevor Bauer to a ninth pitch and drilled it down the right field line and out of sight in the top of the third. Then, in the top of the sixth, Rizzo made shorter work of Bauer by hitting a fourth-pitch 1-2 service deeper into the right field seats.

But in the top of the nightcap’s fourth, rookie Cincinnati relief pitcher Tejay Antone greeted Rizzo leading off with a pitch straight over Rizzo’s head. Rookie though he may be, Antone had all the right moves at the ready, looking at his pitching hand immediately as he turned to his right.

Of course the ball just slipped away off course against the guy who took the Reds deep twice in the first game. And of course you can have that Antarctican beach club for twice the market value. Rizzo’s reputation for plate crowding doesn’t fly here, either. If you’re going to push a batter back off the plate, you’re going to throw inside and tight, not upstairs above the attic.

“We’ve played against the Reds a long time and they do like to move my feet,” Rizzo told reporters after Cubs relief pitcher Craig Kimbrel wild-pitched the winning Reds run home in the bottom of the seventh.

It’s just part of their reports–it’s been for years. I don’t think any pitcher would purposefully throw at someone’s head. I give the benefit of the doubt to every pitcher, especially Antone. He’s a rookie. He’s been throwing really well. The pitch inside was definitely for a purpose. It’s just, it’s at the head and that’s scary stuff.

No sale. Both dugouts barked. Hernandez’s ump crew confabbed as Antone stepped into his errant-hand routine around the mound. Home plate umpire Nic Lentz handed warnings to both sides. Cubs manager David Ross, who wouldn’t have paid a wooden nickel for the pitch-slipping plea, was distinctly unamused.

Ross came out of his dugout at first, returned, then came back out after Lentz handed the warnings down. “I thought our dugout got pretty animated and the umpires stepped in and issued warnings, which I didn’t understand,” Grandpa Rossy told reporters later. “We hadn’t done anything from our perspective. A young man tried to take things into his own hands and send a message, and then it kind of escaped from there.”

With the Cubs dugout still bristling over Antone’s attic pitch to Rizzo, not to mention Antone still bristling quietly over having exchanged a few “grunts” with the Cubs previously, Ross and his pitching/catching/strategy coach Mike Borzello were ejected. It’s the first ejection in Ross’s managerial career. Welcome to Angel’s Hell, Gramps. You’re not supposed to say anything but “three bags full, sir” to the crew of the legend in his own mind.

Then the Reds got a taste of both theirs and Hernandez’s own medicine in the bottom of the fourth. Cubs reliever Adbert Adzolay zipped Reds center fielder Shogo Akiyama up, in, and tight. You’d have had to be a U.S. postmaster general not to know that Adzolay wanted to send the Reds a little return message about going upstairs against the guy who took you downtown twice in the first game.

That prompted veteran Reds leader and designated hitter for the game Joey Votto to bark at the Cubs, Kyle Schwarber in particular. Cincinnati skipper David Bell returned to the field for another conversation with the umps, during which Rizzo hollered at him from first base, which lured Votto and Reds outfielder Jesse Winker out to have it out with Rizzo.

First base umpire Dan Bellino tried and failed to convince Votto and Winker to knock it the hell off, then he invited both to kindly remove themselves from the game, at which point—pandemic protocols be damned—both benches and bullpens emptied to the field, although nobody even thought about throwing a punch.

“I went over to get an explanation for what happened,” Bell told reporters afterward. “And then I believe Anthony Rizzo started walking towards me and yelling at me,” Bell said. “I don’t know what he was saying, it didn’t really matter to me. And at that point, a couple of our players jumped over the railing and the umpire just started throwing everybody out of the game. Not everybody, but Jesse Winker, Joey Votto and myself.”

“Having each other’s backs and the Reds and all their guys and David Bell are going to have each other’s backs and we’re going to have our backs,” said Rizzo, who speaks fondly of Bell otherwise from Bell’s days as a Cubs infield coach. “That’s what happens when you’re competing anytime through baseball, but especially this year when it’s all heightened and you can hear every little thing.”

The Twitterverse erupted with a round of brickbats against Hernandez as the leader of the crew, but in absolute fairness this was one time when Hernandez himself didn’t jump the first bullet train to make himself the object of everyone’s attention. That’s about as far as absolute fairness should go, thanks to a time-honoured precept that when you lead you take responsibility for what your subordinates do, for better or worse.

Including making the headhunters captured by the game the story of the day, instead of Darvish’s virtuosity on the mound in the first game. Or even the hapless and once-formidable Kimbrel’s ninth-inning nightcap disaster, when he was brought in to try saving a 5-4 Cubs lead and should-have-been win. Oops.

He walked Reds catcher Curt Casali on 3-1 to open the bottom of the ninth. He struck Votto’s successor Mark Payton out, but he wild-pitched Casali’s pinch runner Freddy Galvis to second before walking Nicholas Castellanos. Winker’s successor Aristedes Aquino singled Galvis home, then Kimbrel wild-pitched Castellanos and Aquino to third and second, respectively, before walking Eugenio Suarez.

The good news: Cardiac Kimbrel struck Mike Moustakas and Jose Garcia swinging, back to back, Garcia especially on one of the filthiest curve balls Kimbrel’s thrown in recent times. The bad news: That strikeout pitch escaped not just Garcia’s bat but one and all around and behind the plate, enabling Castellanos to score the Reds’ winning run.

Too-vivid reminders of how Kimbrel, formerly one of the most automatic closers in the Show, kept the crash carts on red alert during the 2018 Boston Red Sox’s postseason run even when credited with saves. The poor man threw four first-pitch strikes out of his six batters but only three of his eleven total strikes were called and his earned run average now matched a ten-dollar bill.

“We’re behind him every single day,” Rizzo said of Kimbrel. “Every time he comes to the mound, we’re behind him and have full confidence in him. He’s Craig Kimbrel. He has his resume for a reason.” That door swings both ways, unfortunately.

“This is how we play [fornicating] baseball!”

2019-08-03 DerekDietrich

Cincinnati’s Derek Dietrich ducking the Keone Kela fastball that would have put a hole in his head otherwise but did light the wick that ignited Tuesday night’s rumble.

With one remark after the dustup settled, the game ended, and the Pirates finished blowing out the Reds, 11-4, Tuesday night, Pirates pitcher Keone Kela exposed himself the jerk of the week. He also restored attention yet again to the continuing inanities within baseball’s so-called unwritten rules.

Because it was Kela who re-ignited tension between those two teams that climaxed in one of the most sanity-challenged brawls baseball’s seen in recent seasons. Over something that exploded but was presumed settled in the season’s second week.

Few pitchers like to admit they’re up to something when one of their services dusts, brushes back, hits, or nearly decapitates a hitter. Kela not only wanted to send Derek Dietrich a fresh message in the eighth inning Tuesday night, he had no intention of covering it up.

“People could say it’s overdue,” Kela said after the basebrawl game. “At the end of the day this is baseball, and I have to protect my teammates. I have to do what I feel is right. Not only that, you have to pitch in. That’s part of this game.”

Protect his teammates against what? A mammoth home run hit over three months earlier? As if Dietrich’s 7 April shot into the Allegheny River could re-ignite, fly back out of the river, and keep flying in all the weeks to follow until it hit one or another Pirate in the face? Either someone whacked Kela with the proverbial stupid stick or he thinks everyone else listening to him forgot to have their bolts tightened.

Chris Archer—a man who isn’t exactly unknown for celebrating here and there whenever he strikes a hitter out—sent one behind Dietrich’s back, first pitch, close enough to his head, the next time Dietrich batted after that river shot. The benches and pens emptied at once. Reds outfielder Yasiel Puig tried taking the entire Pirate roster on by himself.

Message sent, however dubious. It got Archer a five-game, not a five-start suspension. The Reds fumed especially because all Archer provoked otherwise was an umpire warning to both sides, instead of an immediate dispatch, since nobody with functioning eyes could possibly miss the meaning of a pitch behind the head of a hitter who’d played “Wade in the Water” on his dollar the previous time up.

The Reds got the best revenge of all that time when Dietrich batted again in the eighth and hit one that traveled only as far as the right field seats. They can’t all be splash hits. And that should have been the end of it once and for all. Except that nobody sent the Pirates the memo.

If you can consider it good news, neither Archer nor Kela waited as long as then-Giants reliever Hunter Strickland once waited to drill Bryce Harper over a pair of division series bombs. If you think Kela sending a message over an almost three-month old incident is ridiculous, you should have heard what they called Strickland hitting Harper in the hip with the first pitch of an inning almost three years later.

Kela never faced Dietrich until Tuesday night. He also has the nerve to suggest he’s being made an example for simply being honest, receiving a ten-game suspension for his role in opening Tuesday’s festivities. Kela should consider himself fortunate that a ten-game siddown-and-shaddap is all he got.

But he doesn’t. He actually has the nerve to appeal the sentence. If baseball’s discipline chief Joe Torre still has a shred of intelligence, he’ll rule, “Appeal denied.” For once in its life baseball government sends a powerful message. A starting pitcher getting a five-game suspension gets, basically, nothing. A relief pitcher getting ten games hurts an awful lot more.

On Tuesday night, home plate umpire Larry Vanover issued warnings to both sides after Kela bent Dietrich, who jerked back to save himself a hole in the head, before striking him out to retire the side. A few Reds including Joey Votto had a few sweet nothings to chirp toward Kela.  “You’re a pussy, bro. That’s pussy shit,” Votto hollered. “[Fornicate] off!” Kela appeared to chirp back. “This is how we play [fornicating] baseball!”

Reds manager David Bell got himself ejected later in the eighth after arguing a questionable strike call against Puig. Reds reliever Jared Hughes decided for himself what the warnings didn’t mean when he drilled Starling Marte on the first pitch when Marte batted in the top of the ninth. Hughes was ejected promptly and Amir Garrett was brought in to relieve him.

After getting Pirates shortstop Kevin Newman to ground out, he threw pinch hitter Jose Osuna so meaty a two-seam fastball that Osuna probably had no choice but to make a three-run homer out of it. Reds pitching coach Derek Johnson, managing in Bell’s stead, came to the mound to take the ball.

As Johnson arrived, a Pirate or two including pitcher Trevor Williams chirped toward Garrett, who had some choice words, expletive included, in reply to Pirates first baseman Josh Bell at least. Then, as if hearing a starter’s pistol only he could hear, Garrett jolted Johnson, the Reds, and everyone else in Great American Ballpark when he charged the Pirates dugout, fists swinging, greeted by a swarm of Pirates intent on burying him alive.

The Reds looked so jolted by their man’s charge that it took them a few moments before they finally swarmed the Pirates’ swarm. This time, Puig came a little late to the party, from his right field position, but his initial intent seemed to be getting Garrett the hell out of there, in one piece if possible.

In an irony that’ll be talked about most of the rest of the season, Puig wasn’t even a Red anymore: the news broke minutes before Garrett’s charge that he was going to the Indians in a three-way deal that brought the Reds talented but tortuous pitcher Trevor Bauer and sent Padres bombardier Franmil (The Franimal) Reyes to the Tribe. Puig didn’t yet know he was standing up for technically former teammates.

Come Thursday, after whatever dust settled from the new single trade deadline doings Wednesday, there came the word of who was being punished how, beyond Kela’s ten-game sentence:

Garrett—eight games, for charging the Pirate dugout like a bull.

Osuna—five games, for whatever he was doing during the rumble near the dugout.

Hughes—three games for drilling Marte.

Pirates pitcher Kyle Crick—three games for, presumably, swinging fists.

Puig—three games, likewise, for “aggressive actions,” probably because he returned to the pile after seeming to depart after trying to extract Garrett.

Bell—six games, for being foolish enough to return to the field and join the party after he’d been ejected over the Puig strike call.

Pirates manager Clint Hurdle—two games, not just over the Tuesday night scrum but because one of his pitchers was stupid enough to throw at Dietrich again after another did it in April.

Except for Hurdle, who began serving his sentence Friday, they’re all appealing.

There’s a perverse dignity in Kela’s comment upon receiving his ten-game suspension. “Me being honest, I guess the truth will get you crucified,” he told reporters. “At the end of the day, I’m not going to sit here and bald-faced lie. The game sees enough of that.”

It may be refreshing to see a pitcher actually cop to trying to decapitate a hitter who offended him or his team. But what about a pitcher trying to decapitate a hitter over a months-old incident that was presumed reasonably to have been settled business? Kela can plead all he likes that at least he didn’t hit the man, but admitting he threw at and over his head (this is how we play [fornicating] baseball!) is a dangerous look.

Will Dietrich be under a life sentence of brushbacks, knockdowns, and attempted decapitations whenever he faces Pittsburgh pitching? Will the Pirates come under closer scrutiny for the apparent penchant toward inside pitching that seems often enough as though their pitchers don’t care whether even non-plate crowding batters get hit?

Actually, they just might. With Torre’s plain statement singling out “multiple intentional pitches thrown at Dietrich this season,” plus previously known formal complaints from the Cubs, the Cardinals, the Diamondbacks, and the Reds prior to the Tuesday night dance, the Pittsburgh (This is How We Play [Fornicating] Baseball) Pirates now have an official headhunting reputation.

That’ll last longer than any of the suspensions will. And it’ll keep baseball government more than a little on edge, too. The Pirates and the Reds have six more meetings before this season ends. Three in PNC Park in late August; three more in Great American Ballpark to end the regular season. Don’t be shocked to see S.W.A.T. teams deployed strategically at each ballpark until those sets end without further ado, if they do.

Pushing a plate crowder off the plate is one thing. Trying to assassinate a guy who’s guilty of nothing more than hitting a couple of over-three-month-old, glandular home runs, and admiring his handiwork in a moment he doesn’t expect to be that glandular, makes you look smaller than a garden slug.

Kela has something of a reputation for trouble even without the Tuesday night soiree. The Rangers may have been pitching needy at the time but it didn’t stop them from shipping him out of town and to the Pirates at last year’s old non-waiver trade deadline after a number of unsavoury incidents with his Texas teammates.

A week before the rumble with the Reds the Pirates suspended Kela a pair of games over a fight with the team’s performance coach Hector Morales. On Wednesday, a report at MLB Trade Rumours suggested the Pirates talked to the Brewers about a trade that would send Kela to Milwaukee. Even headhunters have their limits with their own.

As in April, I’m reminded of something Nats reliever Sean Doolittle said last fall, when proclaiming himself all in on baseball’s reputed drive to let the kids play. “I promise you, they’re not disrespecting the game,” Doolittle said last fall of the those batters who dial long distance, if not the river, and celebrate on the spot.

If you’re the pitcher who surrenders such bombs, Doolittle had a further message: “If you got your feelings hurt, that’s on you. If a guy hits a home run off me, drops to his knees, pretends the bat is a bazooka, and shoots it out at the sky, I don’t give a shit.”

Concurrently, if you’re the hitter who just got struck out stylishly enough by the enemy pitcher, it’s on you if you take offense should the pitcher simulate fanning a pistol (Hall of Famer Dennis Eckersley did that now and then) or shooting an arrow into your hide. Letting the kids have fun should work both ways. Doolittle knows it.

Maybe that’s one reason why he’s enjoying a successful season as perhaps the only Nats relief pitcher who wasn’t prone to throwing gasoline on fires for too long while the Pirates sink deep into the NL Central basement. Maybe, too, they ought to post Doolittle’s words in the Pirates’ clubhouse and bullpen. The Pirates’, and everyone’s.

Heard of punching tickets out of town?

2019-07-30 YasielPuig

Yasiel Puig (66) didn’t instigate this Tuesday night brawl between the Reds and the Pirates. Neither did he know just yet that he’d just been traded to the Indians.

Well, now. Baseball government decided a fine but not a short ban was appropriate for Trevor Bauer after his Sunday afternoon tantrum. (“The last baseball Trevor Bauer threw for the Indians landed over the center-field fence,” crowed The Athletic‘s Hall of Fame baseball writer Jayson Stark. “And nobody even hit it!”)

The Indians may have decided otherwise.

They had more say in the three-way Tuesday evening deal that rid them of Bauer and brings them Yasiel Puig from the Reds than they had about Justin Verlander punching out thirteen Tribesmen en route the Astros shutting them out, 2-0.

But did the Indians elect to trade Bauer, in the deal also involving the Padres, because his reaction to surrendering a pile of runs and then manager Terry Francona coming out to lift him en route a loss to the Royals was to throw that ball over the fence?

And was some sort of cosmic mischief at play when Puig, still suited up for the Reds, found himself in the middle of a wild ninth-inning, bench-clearing brawl between the Reds and the Pirates that he had nothing to do with starting?

The three-way deal was announced while the Reds hosted and were being blown out by the Pirates. And, shortly before Reds relief pitcher Amir Garrett received a visit from pitching coach Derek Johnson in the top of the ninth.

Garrett had gotten Pirates shortstop Kevin Newman to ground out after serving pinch hitter Jose Osuna a two-seam fastball too meaty not to hit for a three-run homer that crowned what proved to be an 11-4 burial. But while Garrett was about to hand the ball off to Johnson—who was managing the Reds at the time, the circumstances behind which to come anon—a little chirping rom the Pirates dugout tripped Garrett’s trigger.

Apparently, it was Pirates pitcher Trevor Williams who chirped toward Garrett. Apparently, too, Garrett previously had words for Pirates first baseman Josh Bell, words some tweeters translated to be “[Fornicate] you!” And the next thing anyone saw, Garrett practically flew solo toward the Pirates dugout, fists flying with the intent of nailing anyone in Pirates’ colours, greeted by a swarm of Pirates with the equivalent intent of making sure he couldn’t get any piece of any of them.

The Reds were probably jolted enough at their man’s audacity that it took a couple of moments before they realised they weren’t seeing things and swarmed toward the Pirates swarm.

Puig was actually a late arrival to the dance. Late or no, he plunged into the swarm, apparently intent on getting Garrett the hell out of there by hook, crook, left hook, anything short of an ambulance populated by men and women in white coats armed with straitjackets.

And Puig probably didn’t know he wasn’t really a Red anymore.

The three-way deal sends Puig and minor league pitcher Scott Moss from the Reds to the Indians, Bauer from the Indians to the Reds, outfielder Taylor Trammell from the Reds to the Padres, and three Padres—Franmil Reyes (outfielder), Logan Allen (pitching prospect), and Victor Nova (minor league jack of most infield and outfield trades)—going to the Indians.

Puig and Reyes would make the Indians’ corner outfield that much more productive at the plate, since the pair of them have more home runs between them (49) than the combination of every players seen in the Indians’ outfield corners all season long. If Reyes was on pace to hit 40 bombs with pitcher-embracing Petco Park as his home playpen, Indians fans can only imagine and pray what he’ll hit with Progressive Field to call home.

But Puig was one of eight ejected as a result of the ninth-inning rumble in the Great American Ballpark jungle. It may be an open question as to whether he begins life with the Indians—a rental life at that, since he becomes a free agent for the first time after this season—on the field or on suspension.

All of a sudden, any of Bauer’s past transgressions, including but not limited to some pointed but slightly absurd accusations that Astros pitchers were putting a little too much pine tar on their pitching hands, seem like boys being boys compared to the Cincinnati gang war.

Keep in mind: the Pirates and the Reds aren’t exactly bosom buddies above and beyond common competition. The Pirates were a lot less than thrilled when Reds outfielder Derek Dietrich hit and couldn’t help admiring a pair of homers clean into the Allegheny River on their pitchers’ dollars, one of which triggered a brawl after Dietrich saw a Chris Archer pitch fly behind his head, prompting Puig to take on almost the whole Pirate roster.

The Pirates also make a lot of other people uncomfortable with their penchant for pitching inside as often as possible and even beyond. The Reds aren’t the only team in the game who think that what the Pirates call merely pitching inside is really headhunting.

“Hitters are crowding the plate more than ever to hit pitches on the outer corners,” observed Pittsburgh Post-Gazette writer Nubyjas Wilborn earlier in July. “[Pirates manager Clint] Hurdle and the Pirates want to own the whole plate, and that’s where part of the conflict exists.”

Tuesday night’s shenanigans began when Pirates reliever Keone (Drinkin’ Rum and Coca) Kela threw one up and in enough to Dietrich to trigger a little bristling among assorted Reds in the seventh, including Joey Votto, who had a few sweet nothings to deliver to Kela before home plate ump Larry Vanover urged Votto back to his own lair.

And part of this conflict may also have rooted in Vanover handing both sides warnings after Kela zipped Dietrich, denying the Reds at least a single unmolested opportunity to send a return message. Ignoring the warnings, apparently, Reds reliever Jared Hughes got himself a premature date with the clubhouse shower, when he drilled Starling Marte with the first pitch of the top of the ninth.

Which is how Garrett got into the game in the first place. In between both, Reds manager David Bell got himself the ho-heave when he objected to a strike call with Puig himself at the plate in the eighth. And soon enough came basebrawl.

Hell of a way for Hurdle to celebrate his birthday. Bell got himself into further trouble when, despite having been tossed from the game, he ripped out from the clubhouse to the field on behalf of his players, gave Hurdle a shove, got into and broke his way out of a headlock from Pirates batting coach Rick Eckstein, and barked a little bit at Hurdle.

Bell has his partisans and detractors, too. For every tweeter singing a variation on the theme of Bell “ejected earlier and back on the field being his usual clown self,” there was another singing a variation on the theme of “I would fight a [fornicating] war for David Bell.”

Things looked as though settling down before, for whatever reason, maybe a Pirate hollering what he thought was something out of line, Puig circled back toward the dissipating swarm for a very brief encore before he was finally lured away. He was one of eight Reds and Pirates ejected from the game before the Pirates could finish the 11-4 thrashing they’d begun.

The ejected included Hughes and Reds bench coach Freddie Benavides over the Marte plunk; plus, Garrett and Puig for the Reds; and, Pirates injury-list catcher Francisco Cervelli plus pitchers Williams, Archer, and Kyle (Up the) Crick.

Now the Indians get themselves a Puig-in-the-box who can play baseball brilliantly enough, when he’s firing on the proper cylinders and avoiding the temptations to rumble. The Reds get themselves a million dollar pitching arm attached to a brain that often impresses people appreciative of the pitching talent as being deprived of a few critical resistors.

Almost forgotten in the middle of the trade that didn’t rudely interrupt the Pirates and the Reds replaying The Wild Bunch is that the Padres may have gotten the sleeper of the deal in Trammell, a talented left fielder who’d been the Reds’ top rated prospect and the number 30 prospect in all baseball despite a somewhat slumping season this year at Double-A Chattanooga.

For curiosity’s sake alone, I ran a search for major league baseball players who’ve tangled in bench-clearing brawls while or at least on the same days they were traded. The search result didn’t answer the question directly. But the first result was a headline about Tuesday night’s tarantella. With Puig’s name leading the head.

Some precedents ought not to be wished.