On Carlos Quentin, Zach Greinke, and Charging the Mound

MLB: Los Angeles Dodgers at San Diego Padres

By now I’m sure all of you have heard that Carlos Quentin was hit by Zach Greinke in last night’s game and proceeded to charge the mound, which resulted in a brawl that left Greinke with a broken collarbone.

Quentin obviously felt the pitch was intentional (it was an at-bat in a one run game, FYI). If you watch the video, he is hit, turns to Greinke to confront him, it appears Greinke says something, and then Quentin goes after him like a linebacker. Greinke drops his glove and assumes position to defend himself and then chaos happens and lots of people get ejected and upset.

Greinke is left injured, and his manager thinks Quentin should have to sit out until Greinke heals. Dave Cameron at Fangraphs argues why that particular punishment isn’t a great idea but we should all be able to agree that this type of behavior needs to be more heavily discouraged.

Let’s assume for a moment that Greinke’s pitch was intentional. I don’t believe it was, but let’s consider it that way because if we decide it wasn’t intentional, my point gets even easier to make.

I don’t defend a pitcher intentionally throwing at a batter, especially with intent to injure, but let’s look at the at bat.

greinke

 

The pitch that hit Quentin was six inches off the plate (about two baseball widths) and less than four feet off the ground. That certainly isn’t head hunting or blatantly intentional. At the very least, the best we can say is Greinke was delivering a purpose pitch. Maybe he was brushing Quentin back, but the count was 3-2, so that wouldn’t do a lot of good.

Quentin believes he and Greinke have history, except they’ve faced off 19 times since their last HBP together and Quentin has been hit more in his career than almost anyone else around. 91 batters have been hit in 2013, 90 have gone straight to first. Quentin was the only one who charged.

It’s hard for me to see how this pitch can be considered intentional and it’s hard for me to see how this pitch could be the most intentional of all 91 HBP in 2013 so far. I can see a player getting emotional and violent if a 95mph fastball came at their head, but this wasn’t anywhere close.

Quentin’s reaction is the problem. Charging the mound is for thugs and children who can’t control their actions. It’s undignified and it’s dangerous. Getting hit by a pitch that is six inches off the plate is a risk a person takes when they become a baseball player. Reacting to that occurrence by charging the mound, especially for someone who has been hit so many times, indicates a degree stupidity that needs to be corrected.

A lot of people are drawn to brawls in baseball for the history and desire for violence, but it has no place in the sport. It’s stupid. Grown men should not behave that way. Grown men should be able to control themselves. If Quentin was upset, he could have voiced that concern with Greinke, the umpires, or the league so that Greinke’s actions would be carefully reviewed. He, on the other hand, went Hobbesian on Greinke and took the law into his own hands and sought a Lord of the Flies type resolution. Greinke did something he didn’t like, so his response was to beat him up.

Literally, Quentin reacted to the pitch by assaulting Zach Greinke. If that happened in a shopping mall or in an office, Quentin would be charged with assault or would be fired. People in other professions are not allowed to violently attack their competitors.

I’m an academic. If someone criticizes my research, I am not allowed to throw a chair at them and beat their face in. That’s not acceptable adult behavior. I would be fired and would go to jail. Quentin will just get a few days suspension.

Athletes must be held to the same kind of standard when they step outside the rules of the game. Certainly, football players sign up for tackles and contact, just like baseball players sign up for double play collisions and fastballs coming toward them at 90 mph. But on field violence is not part of the game and should be dealt with accordingly.

If Carlos Quentin was an accountant, he would be out of a job today. It should be no different because he is a baseball player.

Now I know the rules in place won’t allow for that with Quentin and he will get the penalty that is typical for this behavior. But the rules need to change going forward so that people stop behaving like this. Any player who charges the mound should be banned for life, or at the very least, for the rest of the season.

Violence has no place in baseball and baseball players should be held to the same professional standards as everyone else. It is not okay to violently attack a coworker. This is not “part of the game” or “just someone defending themselves.” This was assault. It’s not good entertainment and it’s juvenile.

Baseball needs to clamp down on charging the mound before someone gets hurt.

Oh wait, someone just did.

2 responses

  1. […] for my taste but fits with precedent. MLB needs to readjust the punishment for this type of thing, as I wrote yesterday. Clear your schedules today because Strasburg, Harvey, Verlander, Price, Lester, Dickey, and many […]

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