Saturday, April 13, 2013

Quentin Charges the Mound, Dodgers may Charge Quentin

While tobacco use, dirty dugouts along with sweaty jocks and foul language are obvious clues pro baseball is the opposing end of the manners code, as to say golf, there is still a code of rules big leaguers play by. At Petco Park on Thursday night that rule book was thrown out and stomped on by San Diego Padres outfielder Carlos Quentin. In a 2-1 game that happened to be in the bottom of the 6th inning with the Los Angeles Dodgers ahead, starting pitcher Zack Greinke’s 3-2 pitch, found the inside of the plate. That’s the part of the batter’s box where Quentin is notorious for crowding. How notorious? Well he was hit by pitches 17 times last season while playing in just 86 games due to injury and the season before in the American League he was beaned 23 times despite playing in just 118 games, tops in major league baseball. So, Greinke’s offering found Quentin on the arm, not the head, not the neck, not between the shoulder blades of his back. Taking into consideration the stage of the game and the location of the contact, this was not an intentional beaning. But because Quentin and Greinke have history together (Greinke hit him three previous times in the American League), Quentin threw out all logic concerning the circumstances of the contest and rushed the mound. The result was a shoulder to shoulder blow that left Greinke with a fractured left collarbone, the benches and bullpens cleared and numerous ejections. Once the bodies were separated and the dust settled. The Dodgers right-handed ace who inked a 147-million dollar deal in the off-season to be the number two of L.A.’s 1-2 elite pitching punch with Clayton Kershaw will now miss at least six weeks or possibly two months! We could be looking at anywhere from six to twelve overall starts. Needless to say, this throws a serious wrench into the Dodgers plans of trying to win the National League West in 2013. How outlandish was Quentin’s choice of taking matters into his own hands or fist? Well, other pitchers like Nick Blackburn, Eric Bedard and Jon Lester have all hit him just as many times in their careers. Also, the majors have practically eliminated brawls compared to 20 or 30 years ago, when they took place almost weekly in the big leagues. In other words there isn’t a place for them in the modern game with huge salaries and enormous payrolls like the Dodgers. Quentin’s actions and the result that followed is by far the worst bench clearing incident in several years, (there were none during the 2012 season). So what should be the consequences for going after a pitcher despite all the signs showing he wasn’t trying to intentionally throw at a hitter? The most recent suspensions for charging the mound didn’t reach double-digit games. In 2010, Nyjer Morgan received eight games. Coco Crisp got seven games in 2008 and Richie Sexson was suspended for six in 2008. However, none of those incidents resulted in an injury as serious as Greinke’s broken collarbone. Dodgers’ manager Don Mattingly last night made plenty of sense despite his level of anger, giving his determination of what should happen to the Padres mound charger. “That’s just stupid is what it is. He should not play a game until Greinke can pitch. If he plays before Greinke pitches, something’s wrong. He caused the whole thing. Nothing happens if he goes to first base.” While most Dodger fans will echo Mattingly’s sentiment, no way Quentin will be missing from the Padres line-up card for maybe two months. Ironically, that should have been closer to what he should have received as opposed to the 8-game suspension the league handed down on Friday evening. In a case like Thursday’s incident where it strongly appears the pitcher did not attempt to throw at the hitter, mound chargers must be penalized to the fullest. Teams pay too much money as do the fans for the game’s top talent to be heading to the disabled list like Greinke now, over a spur of the moment, anger induced decision to rush the mound. That’s not Major League Baseball code and it needs to be treated that way sending a message for the good of the game.

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