This seems like a hard thing to really look up, but it certainly feels like the majority of Major League Baseball brawls, tirades and ejections happen in late July and early August.
It makes sense, too, right? These guys have been playing baseball for going on six months now, and for most of the league, there’s nothing to play for other than a paycheck. Most teams are out of contention by now, so it might be a little harder than usual to find that extra motivation. It’s also hotter than Hades in most big-league cities without climate-controlled stadiums, and when you mix in the stresses that come with the trade deadline, you’ve got a powder keg just begging to be lit.
Well, that all came to a head in the biggest way Tuesday night in Cincinnati, where the Reds and Pittsburgh Pirates engaged in one of the best baseball brawls we’ve seen in a very long time. All of this presents us with an opportunity to continue a tradition of breaking down brawls, our first since last year’s Red Sox-Yankees battle.
This story, however, actually starts back in April. Reds outfielder Derek Dietrich, who likely would win a players’ poll for the big leagues’ most punchable face, got under the Pirates’ skin by admiring a ball he hit to the moon on April 8. Pittsburgh pitcher Chris Archer retaliated by throwing behind Dietrich later in the game.
The benches cleared.
Fast forward to late May. Dietrich gets his own bit of revenge by hitting three home runs off the Pirates.
Which brings us to Tuesday night when the Pirates apparently decided they needed another pound or two of flesh. Pirates pitcher Keone Kela buzzed Dietrich’s tower in the seventh inning with a 97 mph fastball up by his dang head. The Reds understandably retaliated by hitting Starling Marte.
But the real party doesn’t start until Amir Garrett walks in.
As you can see in the video, this one started in unconventional fashion. Garrett was being a legit lunatic, and it was almost like Reds coach Jeff Pickler — who was serving as manager for the already-ejected David Bell — knew what was coming.
That’s when Garrett decided he wanted to take on the entire Pirates dugout. Questionable decision making, but you have to admire the courage.
This is kind of the Reds’ thing, too. Puig found himself in a similar position back in April.
It’s right about here Garrett might, or at least should, start to be feeling a little bit of regret.
Baseball players as a whole remain under the Mendoza line when it comes to landing punches in brawl.
An underrated star in this entire ordeal is Bell. The Reds manager had, to use a colorful baseball term, “the red ass” all night. He was ejected earlier for defending Yasiel Puig and then he came firing back out of the clubhouse to join the fray and went straight at Pirates manager Clint Hurdle.
This screenshot makes the shove look devastating! In reality, however, it was a light push that might have been out of respect for an enormous, square-jawed man from a place called Big Rapids, Mich., who probably has all the dad strength in the world.
In turn, Pirates hitting coach Rick Eckstein — the lesser-known member of the Bros. Eckstein — tackled and tied up Bell. He puts him in the ol’ anaconda death grip.
Credit, by the way, goes to Reds pitcher Sonny Gray for coming in to try and save his boss. You can see him jump on top of Eckstein, to no real avail, but it’s the thought that counts.
Meanwhile, Reds catcher Tucker Barnhart gets “good guy of the brawl” award for his role in helping the enemy, Hurdle, back to his feet as the world burns around him.
Eventually, Hurdle is rescued and Eckstein decides to spare Bell’s life, and we’ve got just a handful of old dudes standing around probably talking about the weather.
And that’s pretty much how our story ends — wait, that’s Yasiel Puig’s music!
At 10:10 p.m. ET, ESPN’s Jeff Passan reported Puig was part of a three-team deal among the Reds, Cleveland Indians and San Diego Padres, with Puig going to Cleveland. Fifteen minutes later, Puig was in the middle of the Reds-Pirates brawl trying to get at Pirates pitcher Kyle Crick, reigniting the entire fight.
Absolutely zero judgment from here if Crick peed a little right in this moment.
Puig then basically spent the next few minutes yelling at anyone and everyone, probably bragging about being able to shoulder-press 1,000 pounds or something, as his teammates and coaches took turns pulling him out of potential scraps. Perhaps had they known Puig was unofficially Cleveland Indians property, they would have let him loose in an attempt to erase the entire Pirates roster.
Reds outfielder Jesse Winker actually found out midway through the ninth inning that Cleveland acquired Bauer with Puig leaving town. He couldn’t help but sing the praises of his strongman, soon-to-be ex-teammate with a tendency to fly off the handle from time to time.
From The Athletic: “And I just want to say something about Yasiel Puig, man. It was an absolute pleasure to play with the guy. He’s awesome. He’s a hell of a teammate. It was a true joy like I said. Learned a lot from him on and off the field. He did a lot of great things for us as a teammate, and in this community as well. I hope everyone around this city appreciates him for what he did. I know it was quick, but he was cool, man. I’m going to miss Puig. He’s a good dude.”
Perhaps, then, it was a fitting end to Puig’s tenure in Cincy.
When it was all said and done, there were nine ejections, with eight stemming from the brawl. There figures to be a whole bunch of suspensions handed out with Garrett and Bell likely to sit for quite some time. Oh, and the two teams play again Wednesday afternoon and then six more times before the season ends, so stay tuned.
Screenshots via MLB.TV