Dodgers-Diamondbacks Brawl Shows Mattingly and Company Have Fight Left in Them

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Dodgers-Diamondbacks Brawl Shows Mattingly and Company Have Fight Left in Them

In the literal sense, Tuesday night's brawl in Los Angeles could turn out to be costly for the Dodgers when suspensions are handed down. For the one victory they achieved, vital players, including those on the disabled list, could be lost for more time.

Yet the melee in Chavez Ravine showed fight, toughness and grit left in this beaten, injured and battered group of Dodgers.

While narratives and storylines can suffocate sports from time to time, there's also a reason why they're used: Once in a while, there's real merit to them.

From Don Mattingly versus Kirk Gibson to Mark McGwire versus Matt Williams to J.P. Howell taking out Turner Ward near the dugout, the fight on the field was real but almost more importantly, so was the emotion from a now 28-36 Dodgers team inching back towards relevance in the NL West.

Despite a run differential of minus-43, a 9-17 road record and injury after injury, Los Angeles isn't quite buried in the division, sitting just seven games back of Arizona after the victory that followed the scrum last night.

Saddled under the weight of expectations, injury and disappointment, it would have been easy to imagine this Dodgers group splintering, Mattingly losing the clubhouse and his coaching staff and highly paid veterans allowing themselves to coast through the season.

The way Los Angeles banded together last night, both during and after the fight, showed that the team hasn't reached the tipping point of frustration just yet.

In fact, there was a moment during the actual game, after the tussle had been broken up, that revved up the crowd once again.

Zack Greinke, just weeks removed from a broken collarbone suffered in yet another dust-up, took out Diamondbacks shortstop Didi Gregorius with a hard, clean slide to stop a potential double play.

Minutes after the physical frustration came pouring out of the Dodger dugout and bullpen, in the form of active and injured players, Greinke went back to the business of winning a game.

You can debate the merits of fighting and retaliation in baseball, but it's hard not to agree with the notion of protecting teammates. When Yasiel Puig was hit in the face, a Diamondback was going to suffer a similar fate from Greinke. The minute that Miguel Montero was plunked should have been the end of the feud.

Of course, it wasn't.

Ian Kennedy's beaning of Greinke may have been the cause of a literal fight, but it could bring out a figurative fight in a team needing that to stay afloat, if not thrive, this summer.

Drawing parallels between teams and groups in baseball can be arduous and tricky, but if—and it's a big if—this Dodgers team goes on a run this summer, potentially in a head-to-head battle atop the NL West with Arizona, expect comparisons to the Yankees-Red Sox brawl in the summer of 2004.

There was more to that rivalry, including the recent infusion of Alex Rodriguez, after the Red Sox tried and failed to land him in the previous offseason, into the mix. Furthermore, the two teams profiled as the best 25-man rosters in the sport.

Yet, both Boston and Los Angeles fought while underachieving, floundering and listening to the media question what kind of team was truly assembled.

Will the Dodgers-Diamondbacks brawl turn around this season for L.A.?

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Last night, the 2013 Dodgers showed the kind of emotion that the 2004 Red Sox showed the world nine summers ago.

Time will tell if winning follows, but as long as Don Mattingly is at the helm, Mark McGwire is in the dugout and Zack Greinke is on the hill, L.A. won't let this season cave in.

 

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