Source: USA TODAY
They watched video for two days, underwent deliberations, talked to the umpiring crew, and Friday delivered the verdict everyone breathlessly awaited from the Los Angeles Dodgers-Arizona Diamondbacks’ brawl.
And, you know what?
Major League Baseball officials, who suspended eight players, coaches and managers, and fined four others, got it exactly right.
They sent the perfect message for one simple reason.
They didn’t overreact.
Certainly, they sided with the Dodgers, convinced that the Diamondbacks, and in particular, pitcher Ian Kennedy, was responsible for inciting the mess Tuesday night at Dodger Stadium.
It’s why Kennedy got a bigger suspension that all of the players combined: 10 games.
Really, it’s just one start, but it at least assures that Kennedy will miss that start and not just have a start delayed by a few days.
The last pitcher to get 10-game suspension was Runelvys Hernandez in 2005. And he hit three batters, including Carlos Guillen of the Tigers in the head.
This time, Kennedy received a suspension, in the words of MLB officials, “for intentionally throwing a pitch in the head area of the Dodgers’ Zack Greinke.
It was the second Dodger player that Kennedy hit, after plunking Dodger rookie outfielder Yasiel Puig in the nose in the sixth inning of that game. Greinke responded, just the way he should, by drilling Diamondbacks catcher Miguel Montero in the middle of the back in the bottom of the sixth.
“It really should have been over at that point,” Mattingly said.
Only Kennedy, perhaps letting his emotions overcome common sense, retaliated again.
After the two teams already had been issued a warning.
And once again, he threw at the head.
That’s a huge no-no.
“I’ve never seen a pitcher throw at two different guys’ heads before,” Dodgers utility man Skip Schumaker told news reporters. “It’s dangerous. It’s different if it’s a beanball war. I’ve been a part of those before. I get it. It’s a part of the game. I liked it. It gets guys going. It gets the fans fired up. I get all that. I love it. But when you start throwing at guys’ heads, it’s a different story.”
MLB officials could have issued Kennedy’s suspension 10 minutes after the incident. It really wasn’t difficult to figure out that he would be suspended a minimum of eight games, even if he had hit Greinke in the thigh.
It took two days to figure out the rest of the punishments, and when the names were announced, it felt like we were in a time machine transported back to the ’80s.
Dodgers hitting coach Mark McGwire was suspended two games for his conduct, perhaps sending the message it’s not cool to grab Diamondbacks manager Kirk Gibson by one hand, Diamondbacks third base coach Matt Williams with another, and threatening to bash their heads in like a Three Stooges skit.
Dodgers manager Don Mattingly received a one-game suspension for “his actions, and of his team.”Hey, when you throw Diamondbacks bench coach Alan Trammell to the ground, who may just be the nicest man on the planet, you deserve the punishment.
Gibson, the former Dodger hero, was automatically suspended a game for Kennedy’s actions after a warning was issued.
And, as for the players,Diamondbacks pinch-hitter Eric Hinske got the second-biggest suspension at five games for his “aggressive actions,”and just seeing the massive tattoo covering his whole back is enough to scare the life out of anyone on the field.
Dodgers pitcher Ronald Belisario got a one-game suspension for “his aggressive actions during the incidents, or running around the field screaming like a raving lunatic.
Dodgers pitcher J.P. Howell and Skip Schumaker each received two-game suspensions for “their aggressive actions,” which, yes, included Howell throwing Dbacks hitting coach Turner Ward over the camera railing like roller derby.
“It’s going so fast you don’t really know what’s going on, who it is or what it is,”Howell told news reporters. It could have been my best friend and I wouldn’t have even known it.”
Surely, the Diamondbacks will be upset by the news. They’ll be livid that Puig wasn’t suspended for throwing wild punches in the scrum. Then again, considering Puig was scratched from the starting lineup the next day with a sore shoulder from the brawl, MLB might have figured that was enough punishment, and fined him instead.
The managers and coaches will all begin serving their suspensions Friday night.
The players will talk with their team’s front offices to determine the best time to serve their suspensions, or whether it’s worth an appeal.
Yet, no matter what, you can be assured the Dodgers and Diamondbacks won’t forget that night.
They play again in three weeks on July 6 in Phoenix, and have nine more games against one another this season.
Oh, and there will be payback. You can be assured of that.
“We’ll see what happens the rest of the time we play these guys,” Dodgers catcher Todd Federowicz told news reporters. “It’s going to be heated.”
Major League Baseball will be standing by, waiting for your call.