As if the situation wasn't already odd enough, Sunday's benches-clearing incident that resulted in four Angels ejections and none for the Red Sox has led to just one player suspension, that to Boston pitcher Josh Beckett.
Beckett's deserved reputation as a hot-head has likely played some role here in a six-game penalty for intentionally throwing at Bobby Abreu's head. However, there's just no denying that the Red Sox and Yankees have been unfairly punished under the reign of MLB hall monitor Bob Watson. Things gotten away with in games between low-profile clubs are, of course, greatly magnified when the Boston and New York teams are involved, and since it's the perception of discipline that matters far more to MLB than the actual execution of it, it's the Red Sox and Yankees that are constantly the ones taking the fall.
As for whether Beckett actually tried to drill Bobby Abreu after a late timeout call in the first inning on Sunday, that's something only the right-hander knows. I think he was trying to send a message, which is something we've seen pitchers do in similar situations before (I think there was one involving Pedro Martinez and Gary Sheffield a few years back). It was definitely too close to Abreu's head for comfort, but I can't imagine that Beckett really wanted to bean him. He clearly didn't notice the timeout call until he was into his delivery, and while I'm no professional athlete, it's hard to believe that any pitcher has the command to change his mind a half-second before releasing the ball and still have that ball go exactly where he wants it to.
In the end, the penalty won't make a whole lot of difference. Baseball suspensions rarely do. Beckett will serve it around an off day and have his start pushed back two days. Again, it's the appearance of discipline. If Beckett was really trying to throw at Abreu's head, then at the very least, he should be suspended for the rest of the season. There's no more serious offense in baseball. That's what makes this six-game stuff completely ridiculous.