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A batter is not a victim of a pitcher. Even the very best pitchers could accidentally unleash a pitch which goes towards a batter's head. Therefore, it is the batter's responsibility to protect himself.

Perhaps the southern/northern pitcher stats also reflect a philosophic divide re: being a victim vs. having personal responsibility.

I would never throw at someone's head - and almost no one else would, either.

Almost all intentional throws at batters are aimed at the back edge of the batter's buttocks - due to considerations of effectiveness and safety.

Many batters are hit unintentionally - by pitchers trying to throw up and in. Such pitches are generally aimed at a height which is below the batter's shoulder or armpit. The up and in pitch - which is not intended to hit the batter - is nevertheless the most dangerous pitch. If it gets away, it can go to the head, or break a finger, for instance. I assert that the up and in pitch causes the most baseball fights. Pitchers feel they must claim this bit of space high and just inside the plate. Batters feel it is unneccessarily provacative and dangerous to throw there.

Hence, a lot of batters are hit due to pitcher/hitter tension over who owns this high and inside space. And, therefore, there may be other cultural factors in the "southerners hit more batters" equation.

Perhaps southerners are more naturally physically aggressive - and therefore are more naturally aggressive about claiming the high and inside space just off the plate. Perhaps southerners value traditional manly behavior - including manly physical aggression - more than northerners. I am not a pacifist. I value manly hormonal aggression - and physicality is an aspect of it. Manly aggression is a driving force for good - for accomplishment, and for protection. Perhaps pitchers are trying to accomplish victory via being manly aggressive about claiming the high and inside space. Perhaps this is a good thing.

Perhaps southerners are less concerned about avoiding pain and injury in life - perhaps this is philosophical and spiritual difference in north/south cultural convictions.

Perhaps southern pitchers are less likely to view batters as victims of pitchers. Perhaps this frees southern pitchers to be more aggressive about claiming that high and inside space for themselves.

Honor/shame culture may play a part, yet I suspect it has been overemphasized in this post. A culture which holds traditional masculinity in higher regard may also play a part. Differences in philosophic and spiritual values may also play a part.


"We are the nicest people on earth until you piss us off." - Steve Barley

Not getting their way pisses them off faster than a two year old.


Is not southern honor a code among gentlemen? That is, among equals? I would suggest, at least for the early part of the data, white southern men refrained from beaning black batters not out of fear of the black man, and not out of fear of being perceived as insufficiently PC, but out of disrespect for the black man. Since he was not regarded as the equal of the white man, his actions were not an affront to the honor of the white man. It is one thing for a servant or ditch-digger to cuss out your papa. It is another thing altogether when a fellow gentlemen does the same.

Andy Erickson

Wow! What a terrific follow-up to the earlier discussion on Southern-men.

I also enjoyed reflecting on your assertion that a bean-ball is clearly an "asshole move". I believe that I am not an asshole, AND I view bean-balls as a socially acceptable phenomenon within baseball. Your comment led me to realize that I would not criticize my son or daughter for beaning a player who "deserved it". Indeed, I might praise them for acting honorably.

Your posting led me to refine my sense of "deserved it" vis-a-vis beaning.

A batter who has hit a homer, in my opinion, does not deserve a beaning. Having simply bested the pitcher, I do not feel that honor has been violated.

On the other hand, I view retaliation for beaning a teammate to be honorable -- even, I now realize, if the pitcher him-/her-self was not beaned, or if the batter being targeted was uninvolved in the initial beaning.

Anyway, you've given me food for thought.

Signed, A Northern Man Who May Have a Hint of Asshole Lurking Deep Inside


Hot or cold assholes need


Dear Prof. Sutton,

Thanks so much for the follow up post & kudos for including the citations. I look forward to hearing more from you on the subject of temperature and aggression. If there is a real relationship, wouldn't that suggest that tropical countries would have more assholes?

Peace be with you,

Loren Rosson III

Thanks so much for this post, Bob. You may recall that I have an abiding interest in honor-shame cultures (and sub-cultures, like the American south), and these findings confirm what I've believed for a long time.

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