The big news today is Dodger pitcher Zack Greinke breaking his collar bone in a scrum with the Padres Carlos Quentin after Greinke hit Quentin with an inside fastball. I think it would be a whole lot easier to change the rules to reduce home plate collisions than it would be to end hit-by-pitch fights.
Home plate collisions could be reduced almost to non-existence simply by clarifying and enforcing the rule that catchers may not move into the base line until they have the ball in their mitts and by passing a rule that runners may not come in high (or must slide) on a play at the plate. I strongly suspect that the reason MLB hasn’t passed these simple rule changes/clarifications is that there is a perception that fans like to see home plate collisions because they are exciting, much in the same way that the NHL allows fights that aren’t tolerated in international competition in spite of the obvious health problems that NHL “enforcers” suffer as a result.
On the other hand, hitters charging the mound after getting plunked has always been outlawed in baseball, but still happens for obvious reasons.
Dodger manager Don Mattingly called Quentin an idiot for thinking that Greinke was throwing at him on a 3-2 pitch in a 2-1 ballgame. Mattingly is hardly an unbiased observer, and it’s frankly a stupid comment.
Here are the facts that mattered to Quentin. This was the third time Greinke had plunked Quentin in about 30 career plate appearances, in which Quentin had also taken Greinke deep three times. Greinke generally has excellent command. Quentin is a power hitter who gets hit by a lot of pitches at least in part because pitchers are trying to push him off the plate to neutralize his power.
Getting hit by a 90+ mph fastball hurts. It’s also a potential threat to Quentin’s health and livelihood.
I’m not justifying Quentin’s actions in charging the mind and I’m not suggesting that Quentin shouldn’t be punished, but I can certainly understand what was likely going through his mind the moment after a pitch up around his head hit him. I don’t see any way you can legislate away a situation that is already against the rules. Pitchers will occasionally hit batters with pitched balls, accidentally or on purpose, and either way the batters aren’t going to like it.
The only thing MLB can do is impose stiffer suspensions when these brawls happen, but they have to get the agreement of the players’ association first. Because the collective bargaining agreement requires just cause for discipline and batters have never received more than eight or ten game suspensions in these circumstances, there’s no way MLB can suspend Quentin for more than ten games and have the sentence stick in impartial arbitration provided for in the collective bargaining agreement.
I don’t see the players’ association agreeing to a suspension for Quentin any longer than the traditional five to ten games. At least half the membership of the players’ association are hitters who aren’t going to support allowing pitchers to hit hitters with pitches without any consequences.
In my mind, the fact that Greinke got hurt and will miss one to three months while his collarbone mends is simply irrelevant. Greinke didn’t turn around and run when Quentin charged him — instead, Greinke threw down his mitt and met Quentin’s charge.
In other news, MLB is reportedly paying former Biogenesis employees for documents in part because sources say some ballplayers have similarly purchased Biogenesis documents in order to destroy them. MLB has already brought a lawsuit against Biogenesis and some of its former employees on a very aggressive legal theory that their actions have damaged the business of baseball, although the main reason for the lawsuit appears to be to enable MLB to conduct discovery of the documents in Biogenesis’ possession in order to discipline wayward players.
If players are buying documents in order to destroy them, I have a feeling this will come out, and MLB will have sufficient evidence to make long suspensions stick. However, with respect to the documents MLB is paying for, there will be questions about the authenticity of the documents obtained and the motivations of the former Biogenesis employees in providing them, which will weaken the evidentiary value of whatever information the documents contain.
It’s pretty clear that MLB is determined to pursue any players who were involved with Biogenesis and that this issue isn’t going to go away. We’ll have to wait to see how it all plays out.
Finally, in a college game on Tuesday, Central Arkansas beat Grambling 30-0. Central Arkansas’ catcher Michael Marrieta went 7-for-7 with three HRs and three doubles, good for 19 total bases. He also drove in 11 runs and scored six. Grambling is now 13-18 this season, so they’re not nearly as bad as this one game suggests.