(CBS) The brawl between Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper and Giants reliever Hunter Strickland on Monday in which multiple punches were landed is the talk of baseball.
Many have condemned the behavior, believing Strickland was wrong to hit Harper with a 98-mph fastball over a three-year-old grudge and that Harper needlessly put himself in harm’s way instead of taking the high road.
On the other end of the spectrum resides Cubs right-hander Jake Arrieta, who found the brawl to be so entertaining and needed that he sent Giants right-hander and former teammate Jeff Samardzija a text that read, “Man, that was awesome.” Samardzija was a significant actor in the brawl, accidentally running into teammate Michael Morse when he tried to go after Harper.
“I don’t think anybody is right or wrong,” Arrieta said on Tuesday afternoon on the Bernstein and Goff Show on 670 The Score. “I thought it was awesome. Every once in a while, it’s refreshing to see two teams emotionally charged getting after it. And when something like that happens versus continuing to chirp and talk about it, why don’t you go out there and see somebody? That’s exactly what happened in the game yesterday.
“Bryce and Hunter went out there, they were a few punches, they landed one apiece, I believe. And then Samardzija comes out of left field and smashes into Morse. I’m pretty sure Harper was lucky that they collided, because Samardzija was coming in to do some damage.”
Arrieta emphasized that he supports brawling in baseball when the moment calls for it.
“If two guys want to go see each other, let them be in the middle, let them throw some punches, then break it up,” Arrieta said. “I don’t like to see any sucker punches. I do think in the heat of battle if you’re getting hit on the hip with 98, then you should be able to go out and see somebody. I think the umpires handled it well. They let them exchange for a moment, then they tried to break it up.
“What I don’t like to see is a lot of chirping and guys just talking crap to each other. If you got something wrong with a guy, go see him. And then they’ll break it up and continue to play the game.”
The 2015 National League Cy Young winner who will be in line for a contract worth tens of millions after the end of this season when he becomes a free agent, Arrieta expressed little worry for his own health and regard should he be charged while on the mound. In fact, he would embrace it and more or less bet on himself to win a potential fight.
“If it’s my catcher, I want him to wait and give me an opportunity to do a little damage,” said Arrieta, who added he’s never been charged at any level of baseball. “I don’t want it broken up right away. If it happens, I’ll let you know. I’ll be ready. You know, I like my chances toe to toe with just about anybody.
“I know Willson (Contreras) would probably beat whoever charges the mound to the mound, but I’ll tell him and Miggy (Montero), ‘Hey, give me 10, 15 seconds to get some work in and then come out and see me.'”
Listen to Arrieta’s full interview below.