Here we go again. The Atlanta Braves and Milwaukee Brewers spilled onto the field in the first inning of Wednesday's game after Carlos Gomez admired a home run he hit off Braves pitcher Paul Maholm.
That led to Gomez jawing with Braves players — including Maholm and first baseman Freddie Freeman — as he rounded the bases. By the time Gomez reached home plate, Braves catcher Brian McCann was waiting for him, angrily blocking the plate and ready to get in Gomez's face, possiblity to give him a lecture on the unwritten rules of baseball. Have you seen such home run plate-block before? Gomez didn't even cross the plate before the benches cleared and both teams turned into a mob behind home plate.
Gomez, Atlanta's Gerald Laird and Freeman, the usually huggy first basemen, were ejected from the game once things calmed down. McCann was not. Neither was the Braves' Reed Johnson who appears to have taken a swing at Gomez. And, for what it's worth, Gomez never did cross the plate.
The ordeal is reminiscent of Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez getting into a spat with the Braves after admiring a home run two weeks ago. He too was greeted by an angry McCann before benches cleared. These Braves sure do adhere to baseball's unwritten rules about not celebrating homers too much.
The Braves had another bench-clearing incident with Bryce Harper and the Nats in August, when Harper was hit by a pitch he thought was intentional by Braves pitcher Julio Teheran.
Gomez and Maholm do have some history. Maholm hit Gomez with a pitch in June. Here's the full five-minute version of what happened:
UPDATE: After the game, McCann left without talking to reporters. Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez called Gomez's actions "embarrassing." Gomez explained himself to reporters and apologized on Twitter. Here's what Gomez said to reporters, via David O'Brien at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:
"I’ve been seven years in the league and I know when I get hit on purpose and when not,” Gomez said. “And I get hit many times and I put my head down. (McCann) was screaming at me but you expect that because I hit a home run and pimp it up. If I’m from the other side I’d be doing that too. But I’m not afraid to do this. If I’m the catcher, I do the same thing. His (job) is to protect his pitchers, protect your teammates and it is what it is. I respect McCann. All his players, I’m apologizing to his manager, the organization ... I don’t expect to hit a home run and (be) talking all around the bases. The reason that I was talking is because they talked to me back and I responded.”
Gomez's tweets, meanwhile, sounded a bit more polished:
I would like to apologize first to the fans, MLB, my teammates and the Brewers organization as well as the Braves organization.
— Carlos Gomez (@C_Gomez27) September 26, 2013
In the heat of the moment I let my emotions get the best of me. As a professional athlete I have to respect the game. — Carlos Gomez (@C_Gomez27) September 26, 2013
I should have not let the situation escalate. I would like to put this behind and do what I love, and that is play baseball at 110%.
— Carlos Gomez (@C_Gomez27) September 26, 2013
Here's some more from the umpires and Braves perspective, again from the AJC:
Umpiring crew chief Dana DeMuth said Freeman was ejected for being “overaggressive” and hitting third baseman Aramis Ramirez with an elbow when players were shoving each other. Ramirez left the game in the third inning with a sore left knee that he said resulted from the scrum ...
“When the group (players) got together, you can see on the video very well, Freeman was overaggressive. Right when he came in, he went boom with an elbow which we saw and it caught the third baseman Ramirez. That right there is just like throwing a punch. That is overaggressive. That number one calls for an ejection. What we saw out there was the same as we saw (on video). There was nobody else that was overly aggressive, other than Gomez of course.”
Freeman strongly denied throwing any punches and said he just “moved the pile” when he ran in from first base. Gonzalez said if there is any suspension handed down for Freeman, the Braves would appeal. Braves backup catcher Gerald Laird also was ejected, for continuing to shout from the dugout after the incident.
“I didn’t throw one punch,” said Freeman, who shouted at Gomez as he ran past first base. “I just told him to act like he’s done it before and run around the bases…. I guess they (umpire) just picked out the biggest guy and threw him out.”
The Braves ended up losing the game 4-0. With the loss and the St. Louis Cardinals' win earlier in the day, the Cards moved past Atlanta for the best record in the NL and home-field advantage in the playoffs.