A bench-clearing brawl earns its spot in the memories of baseball fans not based on how it started, how many guys got involved, or how many awkward punches were thrown. What sticks out are the little moments, the snapshots in time that emerge from the fracas to be immortalized for all time in GIFs and screenshots. In that sense, the dust-up that the Angels and Mariners had themselves on Sunday afternoon was a pretty good one.
First, the particulars. In the ninth inning of Saturday night’s game, Angels slugger Mike Trout got buzzed by a high fastball that just missed his head. He was pretty steamed about it after the game, telling reporters that the guy who threw the pitch, Erik Swanson, shouldn’t be pitching inside if he can’t keep the ball away from the hitter’s head. Fair enough! In any case, a guy getting almost hit in a one-run game doesn’t seem like the kind of thing that would tee up a brawl in the next game, but I suppose that conclusion doesn’t take into account how sick and tired of each other these two teams, who have now faced off eight times in the last 11 days, might be.
The Angels all but telegraphed their intentions to turn Sunday’s game into a scrap when they announced Andrew Wantz, a reliever who hadn’t made a start all season, as the starting pitcher. Wantz got to work right away, throwing behind Julio Rodriguez’s head in the first inning:
Having failed to brain Rodriguez in the first, Wantz then put one on Jesse Winker’s hip in the second, and that’s when it all kicked off:
A pretty good brawl. Whenever the fight calms down and starts back up several times, it’s a good bet that the guys involved are actually quite mad. But again, it’s not a roiling mass of baseball dudes that makes a basebrawl memorable, but the standout moments, of which there were a few in this case. First we have Winker, having finally freed himself from the rumblin’ and tumblin’ on the field, walking into the dugout while giving Angels fans a fully cocked double-bird:
But Winker’s anger was nothing compared to what Raisel Iglesias was feeling. After things calmed down and the field was cleared, Iglesias just started throwing shit all over the place:
Igleisias also threw a bucket of gum onto the field, which led to my favorite image from the whole ordeal: three of his teammates quickly picking up the mess before the start of the next half-inning:
All good stuff, but before we can give this basebrawl an A+, we have to figure out if anyone said anything particularly spicy or funny during their postgame comments. Thankfully, both Winker and Wantz were up to the task. First, the Mariners outfielder:
“The only thing I’m going to apologize for is flipping the fans off,” Winker said. “That’s it. As fans, they’re spending their hard-earned money to come watch us play a game, and they didn’t deserve that, so I apologize to the fans, especially the women and children.”ESPN
And now the man who plunked him:
“I was pretty amped up for my first start, and the first one just got away from me,” Wantz said. “It was sweaty. I was sweating. First day game I’ve pitched in [in the majors], and that’s that. Second one to Winker was a cut fastball inside, and [I] just yanked it. That’s all I’ve got to say.”ESPN
“Especially the women and children.” “It was sweaty. I was sweating.” Incredible work by everyone involved.