Today, ESPN will not show a stupid, bench clearing melee’ that happened on a baseball field last night. The ESPN audience will not get to see any punches thrown. They will not see a mob of ballplayers wearing different colors shoving each other. The ESPN audience will be deprived the fun of seeing two milling gangs of men shouting at each other, threatening each other, sometimes attacking each other, other times being held back from attacking each other (to their own great relief.)
They will not see it because one man stopped it.
In apparent retaliation for the collision between Jake Marisnick and Jonathon Lucroy last week that resulted in injury to Lucroy, Angels reliever Noe Ramirez threw this pitch straight at the head of Marisnick.
As you can see, Marisnick got up, headed straight to first base, and did not even glance at the pitcher, who was clearly trying to inflict grave injury upon him.
And although Marisnick did not retaliate in any way, not even with a small dirty look, the Angels dugout cleared, and the bullpen cleared, and as the Astros began to come out in defense of their old comrade, this was Jake’s reaction.
With forceful leadership, not mere passivity, Jake implored his own teammates to de-escalate the anger, to quiet their angry words, to sit down humbly and avoid retaliation, to not engage in the silly drama that everyone claims they deplore, but so many secretly crave.
Last night, by coincidence, Jake Marisnick was awarded the Heart and Hustle award as the Astro who most brings those qualities into the sport. We all know that about Jake. We’ve seen him sacrifice his body time after time trying to help win a game for his team.
But after a night of cruel taunts and hateful jeers by fans, and even after a fastball aimed at his head struck him smack in his upper back, by his reaction, so completely devoid of guile or anger, Jake deserved a better award.
It takes heart and courage to bang into a wall full speed to help your team, as we have all seen Jake do many times. It takes an even greater heart and courage to turn the other cheek like Jake did last night. I have never seen anything like that on a baseball field ever before.
Have you? Where one entire team, dugout and pitchers, all came onto the field ready for a fight, and the other didn’t, because one man implored them not to? Has any baseball player ever done that before?
We all know that Jake did not intend to hurt Jonathon Lucroy. He knows he did not intend to hurt Jonathon Lucroy. And yet it is clear many people hate him because they choose to believe he intended to do just that. The opposing pitcher even tried to inflict physical harm to Jake because he believed that. Yet, Jake’s heart and courage were willing last night to absorb that hate, to end the vicious, seemingly unending cycle of revenge and retaliation. It’s as though he was telling his teammates, “the hate stops here, it stops now. With us. We will not retaliate.”
What a lesson for the whole world. For the feuding nations, for the feuding tribes, for the feuding parties.
As a great saint once said: “let there be peace on Earth, and let it begin with me.”
We actually saw that on a baseball field last night.
There should be a Jake Marisnick Use Love and Courage to End the Hate Award.