Whether you agree or not, baseball still has unwritten rules. One of them being, if you hit our best ballplayer with a pitch, you can expect us to hit your best ballplayer with a pitch. As was the case for Washington Nationals starter Sean Nolin, when he plunked Atlanta Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman, with a first inning pitch.
This retaliation erupted from the game before when Braves closer Will Smith drilled Juan Soto squarely in the back. Smith and Soto have somewhat of an ongoing beef, which baseball players tend to carry over in a 162 game season. Division rivals play one another at least 18 times per season, giving plenty of time to get under one another’s skin.
Some would say Smith took a cheap shot at Soto, given he had a three run lead to work with. With the Braves going on to win, and not batting in the bottom half of the inning, most knew a plunking was coming the following day.
Who, where, and when, seemed to be the questions lingering.
Nationals pitcher Sean Nolin hits Freddie Freeman with a pitch and gets himself run from the game.
The who, was Freddie Freeman. The where, was in the hip/belt area. The when, was on the second pitch Freeman saw from pitcher Sean Nolin, in the first inning. Second pitch, because Nolin’s first offering was well behind Freeman.
This is baseball justice. The players settle the issue on the field. The Braves television announcer stated, “Freeman is hit by the pitch, kind of figured that was going to come.” Freeman had a few words for the home plate umpire, though no intention to charge the mound or take things up with Nolin. Members of the Braves team held pat as well.
After a brief discussion, Nolin was ejected from the game. Everyone in the ballpark saw intent with this pitch, so the fact Nolin was tossed, wasn’t exactly breaking news.
Nolin drew the start and the retaliation card fell on his shoulders. He was making his twelfth start in a career which began in 2013. He’s battling for a job somewhere next season, though unless Soto specifically came to him and said, “don’t do it”, he’d have to hit someone to show he has his player’s back.
In a case of baseball justice, an eye for an eye, all should quiet down now. The Braves can go on their way, trying to win the division. The Nationals can go on their way trying to play the role of spoiler.