Don’t ask me who was right in the wild bench-clearing brawl between the Dodgers and Diamondbacks on Tuesday night. Pretty much everyone was wrong, and not just a little wrong, either.
I just want to know, when does the stupidity stop?
We all understand baseball’s unwritten code of retaliation; it’s part of the game. But Tuesday night was an example of the code on steroids, or at least elevated testosterone.
Game situation, gentlemen?
Does anyone even pay attention to the score anymore?
Diamondbacks right-hander Ian Kennedy hit the Dodgers’ Yasiel Puig with two strikes and two outs in the sixth, bringing the tying run to the plate. The other two drillings — Zack Grienke of D-backs catcher Miguel Montero, Kennedy of Greinke — occurred with the score tied in the seventh.
And that’s not the half of it.
Greinke, after getting his left collarbone broken in a fight with the Padres’ Carlos Quentin in April, was foolish to risk injury again, particularly in reaction to Kennedy’s unintentional beaning of Puig.
Kennedy was even dumber, twice enraging the Dodgers by twice throwing toward their heads. First, he threw a ball that grazed Puig’s nose, inadvertently. Later, he nailed Greinke in the upper shoulder to exact revenge for Montero, triggering a near-riot.
“If you can’t pitch inside without hitting someone in the head, then you shouldn’t pitch inside,” Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said.
Amen, but not even Donnie Baseball stood above the fray in a game the Dodgers ended up winning, 5-3. No, Mattingly wrestled Diamondbacks bench coach Alan Trammell to the ground in the middle of the brawl, an incident the manager later said he couldn’t remember. Two of the nicest guys in the game, both in their 50s, going at it like kids on a playground. No one’s finest hour.
Luckily — incredibly — no player, coach or manager on either team appeared to get hurt.
The madness also included:
Dodgers hitting coach Mark McGwire yelling at Diamondbacks manager Kirk Gibson, as well as screaming at and grabbing third-base coach Matt Williams by the jersey.
Dodgers reliever J.P. Howell slamming Diamondbacks assistant hitting coach Turner Ward against a railing by the camera well as if it were a WWE turnbuckle.
Puig landing a haymaker on D-Backs first baseman Eric Hinske’s head, and injured Dodgers pitchers Josh Beckett and Chris Capuano inviting suspensions by taking the field while on the disabled list.
“It was like 25 against 72,” Montero said. “All the DL guys were out there, too.”
The umpires were even more overmatched.
“There were four of us and what, 60 of them?” said crew chief Brian Gorman, who was umpiring first base.
In the end, Gorman’s crew issued six ejections — to the Dodgers’ McGwire, Puig and reliever Ronald Belisario, and the Diamondbacks’ Gibson, Kennedy and Ward. Others also could receive discipline, Gorman said, after the commissioner’s office reviews the video. MLB is expected to announce discipline Thursday.
McGwire and Puig were “instigating,” according to third base umpire Larry Vanover, while Belisario was “out of control.” Gibson and Kennedy received automatic ejections for Kennedy hitting Greinke after warnings were issued. The umps also viewed Ward as an instigator, even though he got pummeled by Howell.
“He was grabbing guys, being aggressive in the fight,” Gorman said, though he acknowledged, “it’s hard not to, when they go after you.”
The benches initially cleared after Greinke hit Montero, but no punches were thrown. That’s where this whole thing should have ended, the usual eye-for-eye exchange complete.
Alas, there is history between these teams that date backs two years, when the Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw hit Gerardo Parra the day after Parra — in Kershaw’s view — had showboated a home run off reliever Hung-Chih Kuo.
There also is history with Greinke — the recent history with Quentin, known to every opposing player. And while it’s admirable that Greinke defends his teammates, the Dodgers didn’t sign him for $147 million to administer cowboy justice. They signed him to pitch like an ace.
Greinke said afterward that his seven-inning outing was “maybe” his best of the season. He ran the bases after Kennedy hit him, but Mattingly didn’t allow him to come out for the eighth. The “extra stuff,” as Greinke called it, contributed to the manager’s decision to lift him after 98 pitches.
I understand why the Dodgers were upset about what happened to Puig — “You don’t throw at anybody’s head,” left fielder Skip Schumaker said. “I don’t care what the situation is, that’s a dangerous play with all the concussions now.”
I also understand that Greinke retaliated properly, hitting Montero in the back, not higher. But Grienke couldn’t have waited, couldn’t have allowed a reliever to hit a Diamondbacks player in a less critical spot?
Heck, maybe it should never even have come to that.
The umpires, in Gibson’s view, could have issued warnings after Greinke twice threw inside at Montero earlier in the at-bat. But Gorman said the umps could not “factor in” Grienke’s history, could not determine his intent.
So, one thing led to another.
Gibson said that he understood why the Dodgers were “mad,” made it clear that he did not order Kennedy to throw at Greinke, uttered the usual bromides about pitching inside and balls getting away.
Kennedy acknowledged trying to send Greinke “a message,” but said he only wanted to go inside, not hit him.
“I didn’t think it was right, what he did to Miggy (Montero),” Kennedy said.
Well, Ian, the Dodgers didn’t think it was right for you to hit Puig in the face.
No one was right, not on this crazy night.
I keep looking at the video, and can’t find the adult in the room.