One of my biggest criticisms of bench clearing brawls has been the fact that there always seems to be one player who is completely out of line. That player can be the pitcher, who throws at a hitter because the batter before him homered. Or because the pitcher simply retaliates over a hit batsman that was clearly unintentional. Position players are often to blame as well, whether it is a player who shows up the other team after a home run, or tries to run up a score for no reason. Of course, there was Luis Cruz, who started the WBC brawl between Mexico and Canada because he did not know the rules of the tournament. And there is always that jerk that has to charge the mound because of the simple reason they got hit by a pitch.
In my opinion, what happened last night in LA was a good old fashioned baseball brawl. These things happen and sometimes is it just a matter of two teams sticking up for each other. Dodgers rookie sensation Yasiel Puig was hit in the nose by an Ian Kennedy pitch during the game, which started the festivities. Though Kennedy probably was not throwing at Puig's head, maybe not at all, the Dodgers felt the need to retaliate. This was a situation that warranted retaliation. Dodgers RHP Zack Greinke would hit D'Backs catcher Miguel Montero in the back, obviously on purpose. After warnings were issued to both teams, Kennedy hit Greinke in the helmet, leading to the brawl.
Most baseball fans want to blame somebody, or one team, for what happened. Some automatically blamed Greinke, who is confrontational and was involved in an earlier fight with San Diego's Carlos Quentin this season. Some want to blame Kennedy, saying he started it by hitting Puig. Some add that the battle should have ended once Greinke hit Montero. The truth is, nobody was to blame for what happened last night. It is possible that Kennedy did not hit Puig on purpose, Perhaps an inside pitch got away from him. Prior to Puig's HBP, Kennedy had hit 7 batters this season, a very high total. After Puig getting hit, both teams stuck up for themselves. This is what baseball is about.
The famous 1984 fight between the Braves and Padres was the perfect example of a team sticking up for itself. Pascual Perez hit Alan Wiggins to start the game, probably to send a message. The Padres used the retaliation as a unification effort that led them past the Braves to win the NL West. Maybe either the Dodgers or Diamondbacks can refer to this game as the one that unified their team to make a NL West push, particularly the Dodgers, who are currently in last place.
One of the most interesting things about this scrum was the heavyweights that were on each side. Not just the players, which included Puig, Juan Uribe and Andre Ethier against Cody Ross, Jason Kubel and Paul Goldschmidt. Also involved were both managers, Kirk Gibson and Don Mattingly, as well as Arizona coaches Don Baylor and Matt Williams and Dodgers coaches Mark McGwire and Tim Wallach. All six have extensive experience in bench clearing fights. To me, McGwire and Baylor would be an interesting fight, but in spite of an even tale of the tape, I give the D'Backs the advantage putting Gibson, Williams and Baylor over Mattingly, McGwire and Wallach.