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Why does softball not have baseball’s aggression?

November 26, 2019

Why does softball not have baseball’s aggression?



 

For all intents and purposes, softball and baseball are very similar sports. Traditionalists of either code may argue against that but the fact of the matter is that they share many similarities. In fact, if you were to ask someone on the street what the differences are they may stare back blankly at you and could possibly even ask if they aren’t indeed the same sport.

With so many shared features it's easy to see why someone without any prior knowledge would make that mistake. There is one noticeable difference however and it must be said this distinction is quite a telling one: aggression.

Why has the aggression in baseball not filtered through to softball? Week after week we see mass brawls break out in the MLB, there is even a page decided to the craziest fights of all-time in baseball's long history. So what, then, is the reason for softball’s serene culture and why have their players mastered the art of zen so much better?

Pitching

There is only one place to begin and that is pitching. Now, as we know in softball, pitchers are required to throw underarm whereas in baseball they can throw overarm. The difference in speed is vast with hitters in baseball having precious little time to see the ball. That’s all good and well you say but what does it have to do with less fighting in softball? Well, the answer is everything.

For starters, compare softball's pitch to baseball's pitch and you will see why pitching overarm is a lot more confrontational than a ball coming at you at underarm speed. Throwing in itself can be seen as an aggressive act so if one of these fastballs hit you, you’re likely to think it has been done on purpose which normally induces a far stronger reaction. The average softball pitch is timed at 85mph whilst the norm in baseball is 103mph and even if that may not look on paper like a massive differential, in reality, it is huge.

For what it’s worth, Aroldis Chapman set the record for the fastest pitch in baseball when he threw one down at 106pmh and the New York Yankees man has been known to leave disturbing bruises on players once hit, like he did to Tampa Bay Rays' man Jake Cronenworth.

 https://twitter.com/SportsCenter/status/991663772900216834

 

Getting hit will normally spark a mass brawl but it can often depend on where a player has been hurt. There is room for leniency if it is in the ribs but above the shoulders and it’s time to throw down. In fact, Betway recently looked into the evolution of baseball’s unwritten rules and at number two on the list is 'never throw at a batter’s head'. Whilst it may be a bit of etiquette that is for the large part is adhered to, it’s not hard to see why breaking it almost always spills over into punches being thrown.

Whether it’s a stray pitch or intentional, you know what’s coming next and this it has to be said, is the biggest reason for the lack of fights in softball. It’s a lot harder to hit a player in the head with an underarm pitch as the ball leaves your hand at knee height.

It is often suggested these days that a fastball isn't enough anymore to get the upper hand on any prospective hitter and whilst that may be true, a misdirected fastball is certainly enough to clear the benches. In conclusion to the difference in pitching between baseball and softball, it is probably worth mentioning the great Eddie Feigner. Before his death at the age of 81 in 2007, Feigner was a legendary softball pitcher who managed to get the ball down at over 100mph so it is possible to do in softball but very rare.

Revenge is a dish best served cold

On a side note, every now and then batters are able to get their revenge as was seen in a softball game in New Zealand when the pitcher was felled after taking a ball to the face following a hard-hit drive by the hitter. This is usually accidental though, so rarely leads to fighting - back to why fights are more common in baseball.

Money talks (people into fighting)

Professional baseball players in the MLB normally make around $4 million dollars a year whilst professional softball players earn in the region of $5000 - $6000 a year. The difference in salaries is eye-watering and you can see why tensions may run high in baseball as players fight it out to get to the top in order to enjoy the untold riches.

It’s not just the salaries that the best baseball players are fighting it out for but also endorsement deals. In 2016, Under Armour’s biggest name Bryce Harper signed the most lucrative endorsement deal in the history of the sport, rumored to be worth tens of millions of dollars. There is now an official Under Armour apparel section called the Bryce Harper collection which once again illustrates the stakes these guys compete for.

 https://twitter.com/YahooSports/status/996410063798657025

 

With so much on the line for the cream of the crop in baseball and as is the case in most instances, the bigger the reward, the greater the intensity of the game.

Aggression aside

They're both incredibly fun sports to watch regardless of where the most aggression takes place. Indeed, softball and baseball often have us on the edge of our seats for various reasons but it just so happens that one has the tendency to go all WWE on us in a moment's notice.

 

 

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