Hunter Strickland is as automatic as a closer has ever been. When there is a tantrum to air, he airs it for the world to see.
His latest and maybe most spectacular snap came last night when he lost a fight to a door at AT&T Park after being bested by Miami’s Lewis Brinson in the Marlins’ 5-4 win over the Giants. He punched said door with his pitching hand, broke his right pinky and will miss the next six to eight weeks while thinking about what he’s done.
Like Wile E. Coyote.
Strickland was defending the old baseball code of frontier justice for people who celebrate success on a ballfield, as Brinson did last week in Miami. He threw a pitch at Brinson, then gave up a base hit to the anemic-hitting outfielder, and decided upon reflection that the clubhouse door was taunting him by existing.
So he punched it, with the predictable result.
Strickland’s M.O. here has been of a hard-throwing red-behinded American who brooks no slights and holds all grudges, for weeks or even years at a time (hello, Bryce Harper). But to break his hand because he couldn’t outduel a .179 hitter best known for being a joke candidate for the National league All-Star Team through the auspices of the Dan Le Batard radio show in Miami...well, this cements Strickland’s reputation as the man you go to when you want to show your children what self-control doesn’t look like.
One can speculate how the Giants, who have endured his microscopic fuse before, will view this latest transgression against common sense. One could see Brian Sabean and Bruce Bochy arguing halfway through a commiserative beer before tabling the subject for as many weeks as it takes for him to heal. They could agree that Strickland is more trouble than his results are worth, they could agree that his talent trumps his tantrums, or argue about it until they finish the beer.
But Strickland’s lack of reliability or decorum has interfered more than once with his career, and it seems unlikely to get any better in the foreseeable future. He is Hunter Strickland, the beanballing, door-punching hothead who can always be relied upon to be unreliable.
And the Giants have to decide quickly whether he is worth any more of their precious bother. They don’t have to announce the results, but they do need to reach a denouement with Strickland and his flaming forehead.
The guess? They will endure until they can find someone willing to take him and his flailing fists off their hands. That, we suspect, may take awhile. And by then, he might have broken his foot kicking an ottoman after a game against the Cincinnati Reds.
The Reds. As in red-ass. I mean, if you're going to go, go all the way.