I like to watch a good fight as much as the next fella, but recent spouts of beanings and brawls (e.g., Piazza this spring, Tino Martinez and Sammy Sosa) have me ready to drop the gloves. In fact, I'm ready to bring soccer rules to the game we know and love to save it from itself:
- If you hit a batter with a pitch, it's an automatic $10,000 fine. You personally get penalized for your lack of control no matter when it happens.
- The home plate umpires will "yellow card" any pitcher deemed to have thrown intentionally at another player and any batter who stares down a pitcher and either player if they jaw at each other (within ump's discretion). Like yellow cards in soccer, they carry over from game to game: you stare down somebody 3 weeks down the road, it's your second yellow card, and you're ejected.
- Batters that step toward the mound or pitcher and pitchers that step toward the batter (whether they get there or not) are "red carded" (i.e., automatically ejected and suspended for the next game for batters, 3 games for relief pitchers, 5 games for starters).
- Hitting a batter in the head, intentional or not, is an automatic red card and $100,000.
- Two red cards, and it's an automatic 10/15/20 game suspension.
- You may not call up a player from the minors to replace a player on the major league roster who's suspended under these rules.
- If you leave the bench, it's an automatic "yellow card" and $10,000.
While largely driven by macho bullshit, the "settle among themselves" attitude is also driven by lack of faith in penalties as deterrents for actions. The league has to persuade the players it will enforce the rules seriously. The league could help itself by pitting pitchers and position players against each other within the union: if batters don't want to be hit, well, there're more position players in the union than pitchers, so make the penalties a little stiffer on pitchers.