Willson Contreras led Major League Baseball with 14 hit-by-pitches last season. Over the past 11 games against the Milwaukee Brewers, the Cubs catcher has been plunked six times. His frustrations boiled over in the bottom of the ninth inning last night when a Brad Boxberger fastball found his lead arm. Benches cleared and cooler tempers prevailed, as they usually do in these baseball donnybrooks.
Contreras took a 93-MPH heater to the dome on Monday night, so one can understand why he'd be so peeved. No one likes to get hit. One would have to search far and wide for a player who actively seeks out contact. Or, simply rewind the tape back a few innings to Contreras' at-bat in the sixth inning in which he tried to stick his arm into a pitch that was right over the heart of the plate.
It is extremely hard to make a federal case over being hit in the same place you were trying to get hit an hour earlier. One could point out that Boxberger's pitch was six miles per hour faster than the one Contreras tried to lean into but that's largely a distinction without a difference.
Make no mistake here. There's noting inherently wrong with trying to steal a trip to first by going full Happy Gilmore at the batting cages on an offering. Once you do that, though, it feels fair to say you forfeit the argument to protest so much when the ball finds you the next time up.
Passions run extremely hot when objects are traveling so quickly around the head and thinking isn't always the clearest. But just as a general rule if you were in a baseball game and a player tried to wear one then complained about not having to cheat to wear one, everyone on the other team would find it ridiculous. And most of the players on his own team too, even if they need to publicly have his back.