Milwaukee Brewers: Why the Atlanta Braves Need to Chill Out on Carlos Gomez

Yahoo Contributor Network

COMMENTARY | Carlos Gomez isn't the first player to stand and admire his home run.

The All-Star center fielder of the Milwaukee Brewers did just that in the top of the first inning Wednesday night against the Atlanta Braves, but we have to go back to June 23 to understand why.

With the Braves up 4-0 on the Brewers in the bottom of the first inning, Gomez stepped up to face Paul Maholm with two men out. The last thing you want to do with an big lead, early in the game, no less, is walk the opponent. You want to make him earn it.

Maholm took it a step further and beaned Gomez in the left knee.

Gomez was forced to exit the game and would miss the following series, but, at the time, Gomez didn't seem to think much of the hit-by-pitch.

This being the final time the Brewers would face the Braves in 2013, specifically Maholm, Gomez was going to make it a point to exact his revenge. After a swing and a miss, Gomez stared down Maholm as he retreated to the mound -- the first sign something was brewing. Moments later, Gomez got all of Maholm's offering, hitting a no-doubter into the left-field bleachers.

That's when things really got interesting.

Gomez admired his shot and then began a slow trot to first base. That was the second sign that something was off, as anyone who has ever watched Gomez hit a home run knows he typically sprints around the bases. If that wasn't enough, Gomez also began to yell in the direction of Maholm.

According to Gomez, that's because he said the Braves started talking first (via Andrew Gruman of FOX Sports Wisconsin). But Gomez would admit he had some words for Maholm, saying, '"You hit me, I hit you. Now we're even."

Fair enough, even if Maholm's slider wasn't intended for Gomez's knee.

They may have been even, but Gomez's actions after he took care of his end of the bargain were what sparked anger from Atlanta's side. After Gomez had his exchange with Maholm, that could have easily been the end of it.

But then Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman got in on the act, mouthing off at Gomez as he rounded first. Then it was third baseman Chris Johnson giving Gomez a piece of his mind. Finally, meeting him before home plate was catcher Brian McCann, and let's just say the man was not happy.

McCann prevented Gomez from touching home plate by standing in the baseline, and the two had a heated exchange, leading to the benches clearing. A bit of a brouhaha erupted, which included Reed Johnson throwing a punch at Gomez, because why not? Eventually, tempers leveled, and Kyle Lohse went on to throw a Maddux in a gem of a game.

But, unfortunately, that's not what people will remember.

What most will take from this game is how Gomez "thugged out" after taking his time to get to first and yapping at the Braves as he rounded the bases. How he handled the situation was a little bizarre, but, then again, who are the Braves to step in and police the game?

Just a few weeks ago, rookie sensation Jose Fernandez hit his first career home run against the Braves and pimped the you-know-what out of it. And who can blame him? He's a pitcher, first of all, and the 21-year-old was making his final start of the season. He was going to enjoy this moment, darn it, and who's he to know any better?

Well, wouldn't you know it, but Chris Johnson appeared to have some words for Fernandez as he rounded third, and there was Brain McCann waiting at home plate to tell the young man what he'd just done was "wrong." How dare he show up the Braves like that?

Benches clear. Yada, yada, yada.

You know what? It's time for the Braves to take a chill pill.

If you want to say that what Fernandez and Gomez did was crossing the line, or breaking the so-called unwritten rules of baseball, then that's how you feel. You're old-school. You believe what the Braves did is the right move. Players can't go on disrespecting the game like that.

But what the Braves did is borderline embarrassing.

Look at how ridiculous Johnson looks, chasing down Fernandez from behind after his catcher instigates a confrontation at home plate. Is it really that big of a deal? And then with Gomez, four different Braves engaging him instead of taking the high road, and then another that flies off the bench to take a swing at Gomez.

Fernandez and Gomez are young guys. They are extremely fun to watch, two of the most exciting players in the game. In these two particular moments, they took the time to enjoy themselves. You know -- have fun.

Sure, the Brewers have had their history of teams taking exception to their behavior, but it tends to make the other team look like a Negative Nancy. Baseball is entering a new age, with new statistics and new attitudes toward the game.

Fernandez and Gomez exemplify that shift to a tee. But as long as there are teams like the Atlanta Braves around trying to babysit the league, we might remain in the dark ages.

Dave Radcliffe is a resident of a little known Milwaukee suburb who is an avid follower of Wisconsin sports. He has contributed to JSOnline, as a featured columnist on other sites and publications, and been a guest on multiple sports talk radio shows.

You can get the discussion going and follow Dave on Twitter @DaveRadcliffe_.

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