by Kent Sterling
There was some serious jawing and posturing during last night’s Braves vs. Marlins game between sensational Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez and Braves third baseman Chris Johnson, and then there was more.
The benches cleared after Fernandez tried to end the argument with his first career home run. He pimped it out, flipping his bat, and staring at it until it landed. Rounding third, Fernandez spat near Johnson. Catcher Brian McCann tried to talk some sense to Fernandez about baseball etiquette that doesn’t allow for such demonstrations.
That’s when we learned a little something about Johnson. He charged toward the plate and Fernandez like he wanted a piece of him, but took an angle that kept the home plate umpire and McCann between him and Fernandez. It reminded me of idiots in bars who supposedly want to fight, but make damn sure that there is always someone in a position to keep it from happening.
Few guys really want to fight, but most aren’t so chicken shit that they pose like badasses while knowing they want no part of the other guy, who usually wants no part of the fight either. The shame of this display is that it’s being repeated on ESPN every hour during sportscenter, and that with DVR, people like me can run it back and forth to see the wide looping sprint that ensures there is no way Fernandez can get to Johnson as he jaws at the pitcher.
After the game, Fernandez showed who he is in the the postgame press conference, “I had a good year, and it ends up like this. I embarrassed a lot of people. It’s just not right for the game. For sure I can promise 120 percent that that will never ever happen again. I won’t show anybody up like that.”
Fernandez really didn’t do anything wrong. Baseball is supposed to be a fun and competitive game. He both had fun and competed. Johnson showed not only a lack of maturity, but showed he’s a poseur without the stones to confront the source of his frustration.
Fans learned a lot about both guys last night. Fernandez is an outstanding young pitcher who summoned a jackerton when pissed off, and then showed uncommon self-awareness in apologizing for his little show. Johnson charged and hid simultaneously. He’ll be the subject of scorn in major league baseball, a culture that quickly recognizes the difference between real and fake manhood.