Somerset’s Freddie Bynum almost kicked off an ugly scene last night. The former major leaguer stood and admired his home run in the sixth inning.
York catcher Travis Scott did what he’s supposed to do in such an instance. He waited for Bynum to circle the bases, and then he informed Bynum he didn’t care for the scene. Bynum decided to talk back, and some of the Patriots players/coaches — as evidenced by their reaction in stepping forward to mouth back — didn’t appreciate Scott’s opinion or the fact he opened his mouth. The scene quickly returned to normal. It never came close to blows. But that doesn’t mean the misdeed will be forgotten.
Some baseball fans might not understand the big deal in admiring a home run. Bynum big leagued it. And yes, that type of behavior happens in the major leagues. But guess what? Bynum isn’t playing in the major leagues. This is the Atlantic League. It’s independent baseball. And he’s willfully showing up his opponent.
Somerset manager Sparky Lyle might wish to avoid a situation by benching Bynum Sunday, but that’s a manager’s personal decision. Some managers in the league have been known to sit players after such exhibits of self-indulgence. Others let it slide.
A few years ago, Revs leadoff man Kennard Jones made the mistake of stealing a base against the Bridgeport Bluefish during a York blowout victory. I didn’t take notice.
Bridgeport did. By the end of the game, Bridgeport Bluefish veteran — and onetime Revs third baseman — Luis Lopez chewed out one of his pitchers on the top step of the dugout for allowing an inning to end without hitting one of York’s players.
After the game, Jones was in manager Chris Hoiles office. Hoiles explained to Jones what he did wrong and what he should expect. Jones remained in the lineup. And Jones was eventually hit by a pitch, setting off a bench-clearing altercation that featured some punches but mostly just resulted in a lot of rough pushing.
Last year a similar incident happened when the Road Warriors Carlos Sosa watched one of his homers leave Sovereign Bank Stadium. Met at home plate by a heated York catcher, last year it was Octavio Martinez, Sosa and Martinez exchanged words. York never retaliated, but the players haven’t forgotten. Especially the pitchers on last year’s team.
One retired pitcher has already wondered if Sosa’s in the league this year. (He’s not.) Because York “still owed him.” The point being, players don’t forget when someone beats them. But they never — ever — forget when someone tries to embarrass them. Baseball is a hard enough game to play. Players don’t need opponents dancing — or showboating — during their low moments.
Never mind that it was Bynum’s first home run of the season. Never mind that Bynum should be more worried about making it out of May with a team in this league (he’s batting .231) than watching where his only homer lands. And never mind that he hit a home run off a pitcher (James Houser) who missed all of last season after undergoing open-heart surgery. The bottom line is Bynum felt the need to celebrate himself — and his great moment — at the expense of an opponent. And that’s what players on York’s team may remember.
Does this year’s Revolution pitching staff “owe him” one?