Sunday, April 1, 2012

Thoughts on Ubaldo Jimenez drilling Troy Tulowitzki causing bench-clearing brawl

Ubaldo Jimenez wasted no time in showing what he thinks about the face of the Colorado Rockies. With his first pitch, he drilled Troy Tulowitzki in the back, dropped his glove and enticed Tulo to charge the mound.

The benches cleared and Tulo left with an apparent elbow injury.

Everyone knows the history. Jimenez, jealous of Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez's contract extensions, came to camp mad. He wanted out of Colorado. Feeling that the team had slapped him in the face, he felt betrayed.

After Jimenez tanked the 2011 season and was traded to Cleveland, the war of words began.

Rockies fans anger has quickly turned towards Jimenez after Sunday's events. However, maybe the situation points to some deeper issues.

Make no mistake, Jimenez has been extremely immature in the situation. He has shown his true colors. He has shown why a guy with his talent took so long to make it to the big leagues, and why he took so much time becoming dominant. He shows that he holds grudges and he showed that he is his own worst enemy. However, it shows that the story goes a little deeper than what fans know.

Remember Jimenez, remember his calm smile. Remember fans getting mad at him for not having "killer instinct"?

Does a guy as even-tempered as Jimenez simply flip a switch and become angry, bitter, and explosive? Obviously people show their true colors all the time. People change, people let jealously consume them.

Was it more than Tulo and Cargo's contracts that set Jimenez off? Several times throughout the season, Tulo made comments to the media that seemed beyond arrogant. He said things about players on his team that made it seem like it was his team, and everyone else was lucky to be a part of it.

After a 19-win season, did comments like that rub Jimenez the wrong way?

A guy like Tulowitzki oozes passion. His game is fun to watch. He is the kind of player that lives and dies with every pitch. He is a perfect player for fans to love. Fans want to see a guy who takes every pitch seriously, studies the game, plays hard on every pitch and dreams about winning.

I'm not saying that Tulo deserved to get hit. I'm also not saying that he wasn't right in his comments about Jimenez. It turns out that he was 100 percent correct. We have learned very much about who Jimenez is as a person since the trade.

There are lessons from every situation in life. Everyone can learn from situations that happen, whether those situations are good or bad.

This incident might be one that Tulowitzki learns from. Maybe it makes him think twice before he says things to the media. Maybe it makes him more proactive in his leadership style. Maybe it simply confirms that he is doing all of the right things. It might just show him that his leadership does a good job of rooting out the bad apples.

However, the Rockies would be best served if this helps Tulowitzki mature in his leadership. Whether he is right or wrong in the situation, it may open his eyes to the way at least one other player views him. Little tweaks can help a leader become a good leader, and a good leader become an excellent leader.

Before the hate mail starts all over again, please read carefully.

I am not blaming Troy Tulowitzki for Ubaldo Jimenez's bad attitude. I believe that jealousy and anger have ruined Jimenez's career. He most likely will never be dominant again, and he has done that to himself. He has no one to blame for it. Jimenez's failures--both in 2011 and in spring training of 2012--rest on his shoulders. He has done that to himself.

What I am saying is that Tulo did something, whether with words or actions, that rubbed Jimenez the wrong way. Guys don't throw 96-mph heat at another guys back because he got a big contract. There is more to the story than that. What Tulo did may not have been wrong. It may have been completely right. He may have approached the situation perfectly and Jimenez acted wrongly.

However, the hope is that the incident helps Tulowitzki turn into a better leader. It should show him to to approach a situation, or how not to approach a situation. Maybe he needs to know when to tone down the passion. Maybe he needs to be more personal with his teammates.

Or maybe he has learned that his leadership is perfect in uncovering the passion-less. Maybe his leadership rubs the guys who don't play with enough heart the wrong way. Maybe he doesn't need to change anything. However, great players take lessons out of everything. Ubaldo Jimenez probably won't take a lesson out of Sunday's incident, Tulowitzki might.

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  1. Excellent article, David.

  2. Good write up, David. I agree... Tulo will take something out of this.

  3. i can see carlos zambrano do this . c'mon ubaldo

  4. holy crap! its ubaldo jiminez-

  5. what a pile of crap. Ubaldo was a true, down to earth gem and Tulo is but an arrogant punk. You should have seen him plow through the fans at Spring Training on the way to his Lamborgini two years, while most all the other players, including Ubaldo, signed autographs and talked with fans. Ubaldo was totally dissed by Rox management and was entirely justified in feeling taken for granted. After the best season for a Rockies pitcher in history, starting the NL All Star game, to be ingnored while Tulo and Cargo were locked into multi year mega contracts was total crap. I don't think Ubaldo hit him intentionally, but deep inside I cheered and hope it will get Tulo to shut his trap. Think about it, who would you rather have as the face of the franchise -- Todd Helton or Tulo? TH was silent and classy through this whole affair. If Tulo were a good person, a good role model, like Todd, we wouldn't have to be making excuses for him and "grooming" him as the face of the franchise.

  6. Anonymous-
    Many fans feel that way. However, I will say I've never seen a player sign more autographs than I saw Tulo sign at Spring Training...two straight hours. I was impressed.

    I think Tulo is learning how to lead. He is so driven, and such a fiery guy, that he doesn't know how to deal with guys not as obsessive as he is. I think he is young and will figure it out. He cares too much not to.

    As far as Ubaldo...don't fool yourself. He hit Tulo on purpose. Lying to yourself won't make it better.

  7. David-
    It is good to hear Tulo is starting to give some back to the fans who enable him to live the dream. He is no doubt an incredible shortstop, one of the best I've ever watched.

    I am not fooling myself into thinking there isn't a chance Ubaldo hit Tulo on purpose. Tulo said publicly, "...everyone was treated fairly..." and basically Ubaldo should just take it like a man. Tulo was treated very fairly. Ubaldo wasn't and was certainly pissed at him for saying that. Everyone knows how out of bounds Tulo's comments were and that is why it was so quickly assumed Ubaldo hit him on purpose.

    What comes around goes around, but in this case I choose to believe Ubaldo since he has shown me such a track record of goodness. Going after a batter on purpose is out of character. I think Ubaldo intended to push Tulo back, smoke him where he knows Tulo is weak, and put him in his place on the field.

    As a competitive athlete I think he wanted nothing more than to embarrass Tulo with a couple of K's and an 0 for 3 performance. I won't belabor this, but he did walk a previous batter, Scutaro, I think it was, on 4 pitches, and walked 4 or 5 in 3 innings, so he clearly didn't have command.

    Benefit of the doubt goes to Ubaldo in my book and I will watch to see whether Tulo continues his personality reformation.

    Thanks for your blog and Rockies insight.

  8. Boulder Jamie-
    Thanks for the comment! I appreciate it.

    I see your perspective. To me, however, even if Ubaldo hit Tulo on purpose (which I believe he did), I have no problem with it. That is baseball's way of telling someone that they are out of line.

    Ubaldo was telling Tulo that he felt that he was out of line. We may or may not completely agree with Ubaldo, but he felt that way, so he hit him. I have no problem with that. He didn't hurt him, he didn't throw at his head, he smoked him with a fastball in spring training. Tulo won't miss a single game because of it.

    Hopefully it helps both players turn the page and move on with their careers. The sad part for me is that both of these guys are such huge parts of Rockies history, and as fans, we want to believe that they are great friends, not enemies.

    Again, thanks for the comments. Come back often!

  9. I think this did help Ubaldo put it behind him. He pitched a great game today. I absolutely loved seeing that. 7 no hit innings, 2 ER. Now he and Tulo are free to just play the game.

    I will come back as often as possible. Keep it up.

  10. I saw that he pitched very well today. I hope he does very well. He needs to continue to keep his mind clear and pitch like he is capable of pitching.