Friday, June 14, 2013

MLB Makes the Right Call on the DBacks/Dodgers Brawl

The fallout from the D-backs/Dodgers donnybrook Tuesday night at Chavez Ravine took a while to come down the pipe from Major League Baseball’s offices to the rosters of both clubs on Friday but the powers that be seemed to get it all right. The main offender in the ruckus, Arizona starting pitcher Ian “headhunter” Kennedy as he could be now known, paid the biggest price being suspended 10 games or basically two starts. Kennedy took exception to Dodgers starter Zack Greinke accidently hitting Cody Ross on the hands with a pitch that was just off the inside of the plate in the 5th inning of the Dodgers eventual 5-3 win. A frame later, Kennedy sought retribution by throwing at the head of Dodgers rookie sensation Yasiel Puig. The pitch just missed Puig’s face, almost braking his nose and could have caused serious harm overall. The benches cleared with no punches thrown, just some angry words from many out of the Los Angeles dugout as expected. So in the top of the 7th and without hesitation, Greinke beaned Arizona catcher Miguel Montero in the back on purpose, which of course is proper baseball protocol, below the shoulders. Both managers and benches were warned with no ejections taking place. So the scrum should have ended there but didn’t. In the bottom half of the frame, Kennedy once again seeking retribution for a teammate, sent a 90 mile per hour fastball at Greinke’s head that hit the top of his left shoulder and then his helmet. That sent the Dodger players sprinting onto the field for a piece of Kennedy. The right-hander wasted no time getting over towards the Diamondbacks dugout and the protection of hitting Coach Don Baylor. What ensued was an ugly incident as tackles were made, punches were thrown and ejections eventually taking place. Dodgers hitting Coach Mark McGuire, Puig and relief pitcher Ronald Belisario were all thrown out, while Diamondbacks Manager Kirk Gibson, Kennedy and coach Turner Ward were all booted for Arizona. For their actions in the melee, several on both sides were issued suspensions along with Kennedy the prime instigator. Dodgers Manager Don Mattingly was suspended for one game for taking down Arizona coach Alan Trammel with McGuire getting two after his raging hold of both Gibson and Diamondbacks 3rd base coach Matt Williams. Los Angeles utility man Skip Shumaker and reliever J.P. Howell both received two games for what was termed “aggressive action” during the brawl and both will appeal the decision. Belisario also will miss a game for the Dodgers, serving it on Friday. Besides Kennedy, Arizona’s Gibson has been suspended for one game with infielder Eric Hinske catching a five-game ban for his actions during the fisticuffs. Also all eight were fined, as were Greinke, Puig, Montero and Diamondbacks outfielder Gerardo Parra. All in all the punishments for Tuesday’s misfortune were in line. Had Kennedy heeded the warning of home plate umpire Clint Fagan or even hit Greinke in the leg and not the shoulder close to his head, the entire incident would have been avoided. What followed can’t be faulted on either side as both dugouts were just protecting their teammates and franchise honor. There is a code of conduct in baseball that goes back 100 years about retaliation for bean balls and it calls for payback to take place below the shoulders or in the back but not to the head. Kennedy broke baseball’s unwritten law on protecting teammates from the mound and once that happens, all bets are off and anything goes as we all saw at Dodger Stadium on Tuesday night. Many could argue with the damage he possibly could have done with the two balls thrown head-high at Puig and Greinke his penalty could have been much more severe. Because of the second head-hunter ball thrown at Greinke, the Dodgers have declared the incident is far from over. Stay tuned for the next Los Angeles – Arizona encounter on July 8th at Chase Field.
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