This should not have happened. Period.
Truthfully, fans love violence. They love a brawl in baseball. They love a knock-down, drag-out fight in hockey. They love a vicious hit on the gridiron. They love it when a guy gets posterized in basketball.
Of course, fans don’t love it when a star gets hurt. It’s all fun and games until someone actually gets injured. Suddenly it isn’t entertaining anymore. Suddenly fans get mad. Don Mattingly is certainly mad.
As noted by Dylan Hernandez of The Los Angeles Times:
Mattingly: "Their guy charges the mound, being an idiot, and our guy’s going to be out for however long ... It's a joke."— Dylan Hernandez (@dylanohernandez) April 12, 2013
Fans are obviously going to blame Carlos Quentin, and they should. If Quentin drops his bat and takes his base, none of this happens. Greinke is still healthy and Matt Kemp is able to stay reasonably calm.
When a player gets dotted, they still get the base. They essentially got a single without swinging the bat.
You want to blame the real problem? Blame the game.
Quentin charged the mound because he could. He charged the mound because this is allowed in baseball. Granted, that is not technically true. Quentin will get suspended, and it will cost him some money. The reality is that the punishment will not necessarily be enough to deter guys in the future.
Tell me what was accomplished by this brawl. Defending the castle? Fighting for your right to party?
I know there are fans that will tell me that I don’t understand. They will say that this is what happens in sports. You have to defend yourself. You have to defend your turf. Player have to “man up.”
How about we remember that we are playing a kid’s game? How about a little adult self-control?
Certainly there is an aspect of intimidation in sports. You want your opponent to fear you before the game even starts. If that can be accomplished, the game is halfway won already.
However, charging the mound is still a playground mentality. Aren’t we grown-ups here? Apparently not.
Baseball can solve this problem right now. If you charge the mound, you get an automatic 25-game suspension and you cannot appeal.
The hitters are obviously not going to like this because they will say it empowers the pitcher and allows them a lot more freedom to pitch inside. Fine. You can put fines and suspensions in place for pitchers.
If a pitcher hits a batter, fine them. Heavily.
How long should Quentin's suspension be?
If the pitcher hits a batter in the head or throws anywhere near the head, make the punishment more severe. The NFL reviews hits. Why can’t Major League Baseball review pitches?
Obviously these quick solutions have holes and logistical challenges. If you increase penalties, some fans will complain that you are destroying the sanctity of the game. There will be complaints that accidents do indeed happen. Judgments would have to be made on a subjective basis, and some of them would be unfair.
All good points.
The bigger point is that baseball has the ability to control this. Again, it’s terribly entertaining when the bench-clearing brawl breaks out. Most of the time it ends up being a couple of guys pointing fingers while the rest of the team just stands around while pretending that they want to fight.
This could have been prevented, but it isn’t about Quentin. It is about baseball.