Florida 4, FSU 1: Gators take season series in game marred by "brawl" and "toughness"

USA TODAY Sports

Florida beat Florida State on the diamond again, but the dumbness of the "brawl" that broke out will unfortunately be the story.

The headlines should read "Florida downs No. 1 FSU again."

That should be the story for Florida (and Florida State) baseball, after the Gators' 4-1 win over the Seminoles on Tuesday night in Jacksonville, their second straight and series-clinching win over the 'Noles over the three midweek matchups that make up the two teams' balance of games in the 2014 regular season.

Instead, we have a fight to talk about, because "toughness" is stupid and baseball plus "toughness" is doubly so.

It starts when Florida pitcher Danny Young and first baseman Zack Powers converge on the same ball rolling down the first base line, and get in the way of Florida State's D.J. Stewart, who knocks and/or bowls Young over, depending on the color hat you're wearing. (Young misplays the ball and therefore can't make a play to tag Stewart out.) Stewart reaches first, and then Powers goes over to Stewart and gets in his face; Stewart shoves him back, and, suddenly, the game is afoot, with both benches clearing as Gators and 'Noles alike stream out of the dugout to shove each other, mill, and yell things.

This is all, of course, dumb. Stewart probably didn't need to truck Young quite as fully as he did, Powers definitely didn't need to go say things an inch from Stewart's face, Stewart didn't need to shove him back, and the benches didn't need to clear.

But what we got, because of stupid rules of society and baseball and "manhood" about protecting your brother or standing up for yourself, was the sort of "brawl" with 20 times as many puffed chests as punches thrown — though I do think there were punches thrown — and one "damning" picture of Jameis Winston being held back by a cop that made a lot of dumb headlines possible.

Because it's impossible to do something as a member of a (good, tight) team without teammates sticking up for you, Stewart and Powers had guys ready to defend them after their bits of dumbness; that's good, I guess. (Additionally good: Players being ejected for their instigation of the incident, and Justin Shafer being ejected for later doing a dumb thing. I like umps that mete out punishment for stupidity.)

Because we filter our discussions about sports through lenses of "class" and "right" or "wrong," and because fighting is "wrong" and baseball "fights" get referred to as "brawls" no matter what happens in them, it's "wrong" for Winston — the one college baseball player in America whose involvement in a "fight" would be news, because of his fame from another sport — to be involved in a "fight." That is faulting Winston for, by all appearances, doing what all of his teammates did, and it's an idiotic application of a double standard: None of his teammates would have been faulted for not joining the fight, but Winston would have — because Winston's the only guy whose name makes the story worth writing up and tweeting out and so on.

And because this fight happened in a rivalry game, one FSU lost, and because rivalries make otherwise sane people lose all rationality, we get Florida State fans calling Florida players' actions "bitch made" (because "bitch" = "woman" and "woman" = "soft and wrong," I guess, though I don't speak Troglodytese as well as I used to) and saying Florida players "act(ed) like toughguys" (...actually kind of fair) and calling for bats to be taken to heads (yikes).

It was a "fight" in a game that was destined to be blown out of proportion the second after it happened, and responding to it by encouraging actual violence or throwing out phrases from the dictionary machismo bullshit is just reinforcing old, bad ideas about "toughness" that aremostly used to keep problems by being a jackass as society's brainless default condition.

And yet, somehow, this video is dumber than all that. At least it's funny!

Trying to get Winston to "beat his ass" is almost as dumb as trying to get a "JAMEIS" cheer going for a guy who, once again, did not enter a game against Florida, because FSU never had the lead. The guy Chomping out of nowhere, and getting no help, is funny as hell.

And it's a shame that these are the things both sides will remember after this game, because Florida ended up with another really good win over a powerful FSU club by shutting down the 'Noles, while FSU suffered another puzzling defeat at the hands of a team that is anemic at best on offense.

Florida pitchers scattered six hits and recorded eight strikeouts, and didn't allow a run until Jose Brizuela's solo homer in the top of the ninth inning. Brizuela also hit a game-tying solo homer against Florida last week, and has hit both of his home runs on the year against the Gators. Apart from Brizuela's shots, though, the 'Noles have gotten no runs against Florida this season, and never led at any point of the two games.

And Florida, which had just six hits of its own on the night, none for extra bases, struck in the first, sixth, and eighth, scoring runs on two singles, a throwing error, a fielder's choice, and a single. John Sternagel — fellow Rockledge High graduate John Sternagel — had two of the RBI. FSU starter Peter Miller gave up just two earned runs in five innings of work, but he also walked five batters and threw three wild pitches, playing into the hands of a team that seemingly must advance runners and take bases on the margins and with bunts to be successful.

And yet, for want of a controversial or showy headline, all that will be lost. Florida fans and FSU fans alike will remember that Jameis Winston was "involved" in a "fight" that happened on this night.

Try to remember this, too, Gators: With the loss, Jameis Winston now holds a 3-4 record against Florida across all sports.

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