"I didn't deliberately smack at him. I just kept running and tried to hit the glove. That's what you're supposed to do. I didn't try to hurt him. We talked about it, and he said he'd do the same thing ... if the game was close. And I said, ‘Well, it's not like we're up 12.' We were up five, and I think we all know that a five-run lead for us is not exactly insurmountable."
This was in the home half of the eighth inning with the Pirates leading 7-2. Three outs to go. Talk about confidence in the Pirates' pitching.
Anyway, Aaron Miles, the one whose glove Mientkiewicz hit to break up the double play, said his problem with what Mientkiewicz did was based primarily on the timing in the game, not on the fact that you're not supposed to do it.
I was actually just thinking about this issue because I was at a game in Anaheim last week in which there was a bench clearing brawl that occurred after Torii Hunter stole second and third late in the game with the Angels up 6-1. Ivan Rodriguez tagged him out at home, words were exchanged, and then the brawl began. It seemed obvious to me that Rodriguez was upset because of the timing of Hunter's stolen bases.
I think that's a dumb thing to be upset about; in baseball, if the game's not over, there's still a chance your team could lose, so you're not doing your job as a player if you're not doing everything possible to make sure that doesn't happen. That's especially true if you're facing a team like the Yankees, with a potentially explosive offense, or if you're a team like the Pirates, with a pitching staff that tends to cause offenses to explode. If there's a point in the game past which you shouldn't try to win anymore, why finish the game at all? Mientkiewicz tried something and got away with it. More power to him. If Aaron Miles doesn't like it, he ought to blame the umpires.