by Alex Poletti
As Reds second baseman Derek Dietrich trotted down the first base line after taking an Alex Claudio change-up to the shoulder, his record sixth hit-by-pitch of the series, he began to wonder if the other team didn’t like him.
“Unless someone shoved a baseball magnet up my ass while I wasn’t looking,” Dietrich says, “I think the Brewers aren’t my biggest fans.”
On Friday, Dietrich was hit three times, giving him the opportunity to score four times despite not recording a hit. For the Brewers, that has to be a bit of a pisser.
The reasoning is still unclear for why the breakout star has been the target of so many baseballs over the past few days. Brewers manager Craig Counsell argues that Dietrich has been purposefully leaning into pitches to get on base. It could be that the second baseman has made some comments at home plate to get under the Brewers’ skin. Or maybe it’s that with his hair slicked back he looks like an antagonist from “Grease 2.”
Although there is validity to the theory that he has been hit because of his likeness to a “The Outsiders” villain, as well as the rumor that a magnet that attracts the leather hide on baseballs is shoved far into his rectum, analysts for The Second String have other hypotheses.
“Based on the speed and type of pitch thrown, we gather a lot of information on motive,” social psychologist Guillermo Ruiz says. “In the most recent at bat, Claudio through a changeup at just 71 mph. It wasn’t a fastball, and it wasn’t aimed at his head or his genitals. From that, we know this isn’t straight-up malice. It could very well be accidental, a slip on Claudio’s part, which is reasonable given the lesser command of off-speed pitches. If this was intentional, my guess is this isn’t an ‘I hate your guts,’ sort of pitch, but a ‘my sister dated a guy that looked like you in college and it did not end well for her’ kind of deal.”
The Cleveland native is having a career year in his age 29 season, nearing the end of the first half with 18 home runs and a .962 OPS.