In hockey, a well-timed fight can shift momentum and completely change the complexion of a game. In baseball, trading punches usually amounts to nothing more than suspensions and busier team trainers.
The two sports are so different from a physical standpoint that it’s hardly worth a comparison, but Thursday’s rumble between the Dodgers and Padres shows exactly why baseball players should refrain from the rough stuff. Simply put, nothing good typically comes from throwing down on the diamond.
Now, that might sound like something your mother would tell you, or it might even appear on some gym class poster that I’m not privy to. But mother knows best, and who am I to question the validity of gym class posters? Baseball isn’t a physical sport, so getting “hyped up” before or during a game doesn’t really play in a team’s favor. It’s wasted energy, and if anything, it can have adverse effects, as a calm and collected approach is often a much more efficient way of going about your hardball business.
In hockey, a team can rally around a fight by increasing its physicality and energy, and often times a good scrap can help build team chemistry, but in baseball, a fight almost always leaves teams worse off than they were before the mess. Thursday’s bout is no different.
The Dodgers will be without ace Zack Greinke for eight weeks because of a broken clavicle, and the Padres will be without slugger Carlos Quentin once he’s suspended. Sure, all of us baseball fans who stayed up late to watch the west coast division rivals square off were treated to some entertaining moments, but the combatants are definitely wishing the whole incident had been avoided.
Quentin was undoubtedly at fault for the entire fiasco. Given the circumstances, it was clear Greinke didn’t intentionally hit Quentin, so therefore charging the mound is as boneheaded a move as you’ll see. Greinke, while definitely the victim, didn’t help matters by gesturing toward Quentin and subsequently lowering his shoulder against a 40-pound-heavier opponent.
The real losers in the whole thing, though, are the Dodgers (mostly), the Padres and baseball as a whole. Baseball fights are fun to watch because they’re so unpredictable — and relatively rare — but once the dust settles, we see why fighting doesn’t have a place within the game. It’s easy to get caught up in the temporary high of baseball fight, but the ensuing suspensions and — even worse — injuries always have a rather deflating impact.
In fact, it isn’t all that different from getting into a street fight. At the time, you might think that what you’re doing makes sense, but then you walk away from the ordeal sore and wondering whether the result justifies the incident. The answer is usually, ‘no.’”
This isn’t to take Thursday’s incident and simply say, ‘See. Shame on you. Fighting is bad.’” But we should look at the fallout of the Petco Park pugilism and ask, ‘What was the best-case scenario for either team in that situation?’”
That’s a question that’s hard to answer. What isn’t hard to figure out, however, is the worst-case scenario, because it’s right in front of our eyes.
There are plenty of high-priced players tossing their bodies around on the field when a baseball fight breaks out, and unfortunately for the Dodgers, they’ll be without their $147 million investment going forward because some fed-up slugger decided to bring idiocy to another level. Quentin obviously made a split-second, emotional decision, and his Padres will come away from the brawl far less impacted than the Dodgers, but his senselessness leaves us in a Greinke-less baseball world for the next two months.
Am I a fan of fighting in baseball? Well, like I said, it’s entertaining. But so is drunken gambling and watching people make fools out of themselves on YouTube. It doesn’t mean it’s productive.
Am I a fan of talented players playing baseball and staying healthy? Absolutely. And that’s why I worry about the potential ramifications every time someone charges the mound.
Perhaps more players should adapt such a forward-looking approach.