I love bench-clearing brawls.
I really do. They are probably one of my favorite things on planet earth and I make no apologies for it. One of my favorite past times is pointing out the stupidity in others and bench-clearing brawls make for some prime target practice. Very rarely have I seen a brawl that did not emerge from something stupid and unavoidable. After today’s skirmish between Carlos Gomez of the Brewers and the Pittsburg Pirates, I figured I should explain why I get so excited when something like this happens. But first, let’s look at some of my favorite brawls (in no particular order):
Dodgers v. Diamondbacks, June 2013: This brawl was insane. Benches cleared twice. TWICE. Multiple fines were issued and the #FreeHinske movement got underway (if you live in AZ, you totally get that reference). After six (SIX!!) hit batters, the dam broke when Ian Kennedy (AZ), plunked Zack Greinke (LA). Cue flying fists and Mark McGwire’s neck vein! This battle didn’t seem to end, no matter how ridiculous it was. People were getting thrown into camera wells, Puig was exploding all over the place, and no “adults” were present. I went to bed too steamed to sleep, which is actually really embarrassing to admit. As it turns out, the brawl was the tipping point for the Dodgers and they went on a tear for the rest of the season. Bum deal, bro.
Brewers v. Braves, 2013: Hark! Carlos Gomez at the heart of another brawl! Gee, I’m sensing a pattern…Anyway, CarGo admired a homer for WAY too long and then proceeded to stare down the pitcher as he trotted around the bases. Braves catcher Brian McCann (who is quickly becoming my new favorite Yankee, BTW), took great exception to that, and by that I mean he never even let CarGo get to home plate. I would not want to run into a McCann-wall. I don’t know anyone who would. Yes, he seems like a super nice guy and a really great ballplayer, but dear God, do not piss him off.
That time Jason Varitek glove-smooshed A-Rod in the Face, 2004: Out of principal, I had to include this. I mean, c’mon. I HAD to (I love A-Rod, I can’t help it: He’s better than the best soap opera and cooler than a cucumber wearing Ray Bans). Let’s face facts: it was a Kodak moment. Literally. I just checked and you can buy a framed photo of the glove-shoving moment on Amazon for $40. Not only that, it was a GREAT fight and cranked up the Yankees/Red Sox rivalry. The rivalry has actually cooled off considerably this year in the small sampling of games I’ve seen. Where’s A-Rod when you need him to spice things up?!?
Here’s the thing: Brawls are usually caused by egos. Duh. If you admire a long home run (or what you perceive to be one), you should expect to get some jawing from the pitcher. Don’t get all butt-hurt when he starts chirping at you! If you don’t want chirping, don’t grandstand. I mean, seriously. Get with the program.
So what if the brawl is caused by getting hit by pitches? Well, the unwritten rule of the game is that the team who did not get hit receives a “free plunk”. Basically, you hit my batter, I get to hit yours. There. Even Steven. All balance is restored and the only thing that happens is the benches get warned. When it escalates from there, that’s when you have a problem. Hitting batters isn’t always avoidable, but anytime there is a whiff of purposeful plunking, watch out. Don’t retaliate after your one allotted revenge hit.
There are plenty more reasons why brawls start, but I would say 97.32% of brawls are totally avoidable. Brawls are bad for baseball! I know, I love them, but I love the game more. Baseball is a gentleman’s game, not a hockey game. Mind your manners. Remember, the person who just gave up a homer to you is feeling pretty crappy, so don’t make it worse. And if you do make it worse, don’t be surprised when they let you know.
Yes, I will enjoy watching fights when they happen, but I never root for them to occur. I’ll take a civil game over a brawl any day.
Unless A-Rod is involved. All bets are off when A-Rod is involved, and I mean that in a totally good way. Love ya, Alex…