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Angels Mariners Brawl
Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Jesse Winker took exception to getting hit by a pitch during a meeting between the Seattle Mariners and Los Angeles Angels after a heated battle between the two AL West squads. Tempers boiled over in the late June meeting between both teams, as errant pitches sailed towards the heads of each team’s star player.

The ruckus began on Saturday night when Mariners pitcher Erik Swanson threw a 95 miles-per-hour fastball close to the head of perennial AL MVP candidate Mike Trout, who was rightfully upset about almost getting decapitated. In the unofficial MLB handbook, if you throw at a star player, you can expect some chin music cheddar to come your way, umpire warnings be damned.

The Mariners and Angels Start a Donnybrook

Members of the Seattle Mariners and the Los Angeles Angels during a brawl sparked by the Angels throwing at Jesse Winker
Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

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The Angels took things a step further on Sunday, according to Mariners manager Scott Servais.

“It was pretty clear what was going on. They switched, put an opener in there to throw some balls at us.”

Servais’ insistance that the Angels used an opener so they could throw at Mariners hitters is astounding, especially since the Angels opener vehemently denies the claim.

“I was pretty amped up for my first start, and the first one just got away from me,” Angels opener Andrew Wantz said after the game. “It was sweaty. I was sweating. First day game I’ve pitched in [in the majors], and that’s that. Second one to Winker was a cut fastball inside, and [I] just yanked it. That’s all I’ve got to say.”

Even the umpires claimed ignorance, throwing their hands up after Sunday’s game. “I’m not aware of the incident with Trout from last night,” crew chief Adrian Johnson told a pool reporter following the finish of Sunday’s game. “You’re talking about the pitch that went over his head. That was nothing for us to issue warnings today. What happened today was a guy got hit. We had warnings in.”

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In the second inning of the series finale, Wantz hit Mariners slugger Jesse Winker in the hip. The former Cincinnati Reds outfielder became furious, gesturing wildly and yelling at the Angels dugout. The benches cleared, resulting in a four-minute brawl and multiple punches thrown. Most notably, Angels’ third baseman Anthony Rendon, who is out for the season after having surgery on his right wrist, was able to land a few left hooks on Winker. That’s how you know these two teams were pissed at each other, when they have injured players sending haymakers with their non-injured hands.

After the dust settled from the first and second skirmishes (that’s right, there was a second wave) Angels pitcher Raisel Iglesias attempted to start a third brawl by throwing a container of sunflower seeds onto the field. Thankfully no one took the reliever up on his offer for fisticuffs. A total of eight ejections were handed out to coaches and players. Those sent to the showers early included Winker, J.P. Crawford, Seattle’s rookie phenom Julio Rodriguez, Iglesias, Wantz and Angels relief pitcher Ryan Tepera.

But while both teams had to rearrange their rosters, one fan had to rearrange their entire day, and it wasn’t the first time this has happened.

Abigail’s Bad Luck at the Ballpark

Abigail is a young Cincinnati Reds fan who lives out in California. It’s hard rooting for a team that doesn’t play near you, especially as a kid. I grew up a Montreal Expos fan living in Boston and while Olympic Stadium seemed like a dump to most baseball fans, it was almost mythical to me. I would dream of seeing Vlad Guerrero, Jose Vidro and Orlando Cabrera in Montreal, but I had to settle for asking Santa Claus if he could have the Red Sox play the Expos at Fenway Park during Interleague play.

Anyway, back to Abigail.

In 2021, her parents took her to a game between the Reds and San Diego Padres at PetCo Park. This was Abigail’s first baseball game and she was so excited, specifically because she was going to see her favorite player, Joey Votto. However, disaster struck in the top of the first inning.

Votto is known for having a solid grasp on the strike zone thanks to years of analytical research and work in the batting cage. There are several stories of Joey Votto spending hours in the Reds batting cage without swinging at a single pitch. That’s dedication and maybe insanity. It’s hard to tell. But at this game in 2021, Votto wasn’t going to let an awful strike three call stand. In the first inning of the game, after being punched out, Votto was ejected for arguing balls and strikes.

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Abigail was devastated.

There’s never been a more gut-wrenching photo ever taken. The despair, the sadness, the anger. We’ve all been there. When you’re a kid, and your childhood hero isn’t playing in the game you’re at? That’s a nightmare scenario for the history books. Thankfully, Votto and the Reds swept in to make things right.

The Reds were able to get in touch with Abigail’s mother and they were able to arrange tickets to the next Reds-Padres game, where Abigail was given seats right next to the Reds dugout. But probably the best gift of all was a signed ball from Votto with the inscription “Sorry I didn’t play the whole game.” Also remarkable is how Votto’s production exploded after meeting Abigail.

But, unfortunately… this wouldn’t be the last time Abigail’s hopes of seeing one of her favorite players would end in tears. Why? Well, guess who was in attendance for the Angels-Mariners brawl

What are the odds, indeed. Abigail and her family had made the trip to Anaheim to see former Reds sluggers Eugenio Suarez and Winker, who as we noted was thrown out of the game following the brawl. Abigail’s mother, Kristin, snapped a photo and posted it on Twitter, garnering many sympathetic tweets. And once again, her favorite player rose to the occasion.

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“We’re all good,” Abigail’s mom tweeted in response to another Twitter user. “She?ll get some popcorn and run the bases later! It makes for good life lessons and family discussions! (Could?ve lived without him flipping off the crowd though- we?re a few rows back from the Mariners’ dugout)”

Winker would also apologize later, saying “The only thing I’m going to apologize for is flipping the fans off. That’s it. As fans, they’re spending their hard-earned money to come watch us play a game, and they didn’t deserve that, so I apologize to the fans, especially the women and children.”

Hopefully, the next time Abigail visits the ballpark things her favorite players will have cooler heads. Perhaps the Reds and teams with former Reds players should also scope out the stands to let their players know to not get tossed.

Baseball is such a strange sport sometimes, but when it gives us funny, interesting and odd stories like this, it’s hard to not love this weird game.

MORE: Minor Leaguers Throw Punches in Massive Bench-Clearing Brawl

Justin Colombo is a 2017/18 Broadway Show Softball League All-Star at 3B/SS, making him the Manny Machado of the Kinky Boots team. Justin has been writing about Baseball since he was a little kid. After years of growth and one insult from MLB's Historian, Justin's still here waiting for the New York Mets and the Sacramento Kings to win rings. Current Walk-Up Song: "It's All Coming Back to Me Now" by Celine Dion

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