In the top of the second inning, Angels pitcher Andrew Wantz hit Mariners outfielder Jesse Winker in the thigh with the first offering of the at-bat. Winker was not a fan, especially after Wantz threw one behind Seattle outfielder Julio Rodriguez’s head just an inning earlier.
Winker walked a little towards the mound while jawing at Wantz and Los Angeles catcher Max Stassi blocked his path. Then, Winker seemingly heard something coming from the Angels’ dugout, which turned his attention there. He busted through third base umpire Adrian Johnson and made it to the dugout, and he began wailing on one of the opposing players.
It was officially on. The benches cleared, the bullpen guys trotted in to take part, fights ensued, the whole shebang.
After about a minute of fighting, both sides chilled out for a bit. But after another 30 seconds of jawing at each other, another scrap re-ignited. These guys were truly getting their money’s worth.
Other than Winker, it is hard to say who was doing the majority of the fighting. Along with Winker, both teams’ managers were ejected. So were Rodriguez and J.P. Crawford of the Mariners, as well as Wantz, Ryan Tepera and Rasiel Iglesias of the Angels.
What Happened Next?
As he was finally leaving the field, Winker gave the Los Angeles crowd a parting gift, which he actually apologized for later.
“The only thing I’m going to apologize for is flipping the fans off,” Winker said after the game. “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.”
For his efforts, Winker actually was rewarded with a pizza in the locker room. It was courtesy of a bored Mariners fan who had one Doordashed to the stadium.
Meanwhile, the Angels’ Iglesias was so upset about his ejection that he ejected an entire carton of sunflower seeds onto the field of play before he hit the showers.
Ultimately Los Angeles got the last “punch” in on Sunday, with the home team taking a 2-1 victory over the scrappy visitors.
What Was the Problem?
Most people are thinking Wantz buzzing Rodriguez’s head and then hitting Winker was retaliation. On Saturday night, Seattle pitcher Erik Swanson threw up-and-in to Angels’ star Mike Trout.
I do not believe that pitch to be intentional – considering Swanson was trying to close out a 5-3 Mariners lead in the bottom of the ninth inning with Trout representing the tying run.
Still, for an “MLB-caliber” pitcher who throws 95 miles per hour to have that kind of trouble with control is dangerous for the hitter. Philadelphia Phillies star Bryce Harper was rightfully upset at San Diego Padres pitcher Blake Snell for losing control of a 97-mile-per-hour fastball on Saturday night. Even though the hit-by-pitch had no intention behind it, a broken hand is a broken hand.
I see why Los Angeles and Trout would be upset, but that is no excuse to fight fire with fire. Retaliation in the form of throwing at each other is one of the most outdated “unwritten rules” in baseball.
I believe Wantz and Angels manager Phil Nevin should be suspended for multiple games and fined as much as the CBA says is possible. There should be no place in baseball for players unnecessarily subjecting each other to potential injury. Winker should also be suspended. He was responsible for the brawl and did exacerbate the entire situation from zero to 100.