Red Sox outfielder Mookie Betts due for a dusting following home run celebration?

BOSTON, MA - MAY 02: Mookie Betts #50 of the Boston Red Sox runs the bases after hitting a solo home run during the seventh inning against the Kansas City Royals at Fenway Park on May 2, 2018 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Tim Bradbury/Getty Images)
BOSTON, MA - MAY 02: Mookie Betts #50 of the Boston Red Sox runs the bases after hitting a solo home run during the seventh inning against the Kansas City Royals at Fenway Park on May 2, 2018 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Tim Bradbury/Getty Images) /
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The Boston Red Sox fans were witnessed to one of the more dramatic moments of the season with Mookie Betts’ grand slam. I believe Dennis Eckersley even mentioned possible “payback” for Betts’ exuberance. Is that valid?

Will the Toronto Blue Jays seek revenge on Boston Red Sox star Mookie Betts for his action following his dramatic grand slam on Thursday?

In baseball revenge – pitching edition – there are three levels in which the books for some type of baseball crime is balanced. Crime is usually attached to the famous “unwritten rules” of baseball.

The first and most notorious form is headhunting and that really needs no description. A heater designed to test the strength of a batting helmet. The second is just hitting the batter with an inescapable pitch. What happens is a pitch is directed inside and towards the lower portion and usually bounces off the posterior or a hip. Pitchers with a modicum of respectability will take a bit off the heater to minimize damage to a bruise. The last is a dusting.

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A dusting can have all the qualities of headhunting but is not as directed. The idea is simply to have the player hit the dust around home plate. Batters usually get tested when they hit and by testing it is a simple concept – will they wet their pants and get the shakes being dusted? A dusting is often a message being delivered for some type of real or imagined infraction.

Betts’ exuberance after his dramatic grand slam certainly gets opponents attention – especially if you happen to be a pitcher.  And by a pitcher, that means all the brotherhood and on both sides. Showing up your opponent is one of those unwritten rules and Mookie would be on baseball death row after that display.

There are heads and tails to a coin and if J.A. Happ had managed to slip that fastball by Betts I would expect a little victory jig around the mound to celebrate the fact the momentous at-bat was over and the victorious Happ could saunter to the dugout and watch the rest of the game in leisure.

In an era in which I grew up watching baseball in such a situation as transpired at Fenway Park a Don Drysdale or Bob Gibson would be dusting, headhunting, and plunking batters until the umpires finally sent them on their way, but that was then and this is now.

Players move around with the volatility of free agency, arbitration, and luxury taxes.  Today’s enemy is tomorrow’s friend. The no fraternization rule is rarely enforced and players before, during and after the game are rather sociable with “the enemy.” After all, you are all part of the same union.

Players also realize the dollar signs and if a revenge quid pro quo is implemented serious money could disappear with a spate of ethically limited decisions. Better to keep your on field aggression to a minimal.

Baseball is entertainment and if this was a Broadway show Betts would have a Tony Award. Players respond to failure and success.  During the Betts game, the next batter was Andrew Benintendi who hammered his bat into the ground after striking out. A display of emotion and frustration. And baseball does that.  Continuing with the Broadway theme players take well-deserved curtain calls and the victim can simply sit and fester because baseball is a fickle dame. Your turn will come.

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I am sure this morning Happ – a well-seasoned veteran – has fully recovered and will move on.  In fact, Happ may move on to the Yankees if rumors materialize. I certainly do not expect any application of unwritten rules directed at Betts. I am also quite sure players in the Toronto dugout had a large dose of internal envy knowing this is the type of moment they have fantasized about since discovering the bat and ball.