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Will Quentin get a greater suspension because Greinke was injured? Doubtful.

Apr 12, 2013, 8:40 AM EDT

carlos quentin getty Getty Images

After last night’s Dodgers-Padres brawl, Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said that Carlos Quentin “shouldn’t play a game until Greinke can pitch.” It’s a totally understandable sentiment. Quentin’s idiocy has caused the Dodgers to lose a key cog in their rotation for a couple months in all likelihood, and it would hardly seem fair if Quentin were to get a slap on the wrist.

Thing is: Quentin is likely to get a slap on the wrist.

Baseball’s on-field discipline system is one based on precedent. When someone does something wrong, the league tends to look at comparable previous behavior and discipline and tends to apply similar penalties to the matter at hand.  It sort of has to, because the union defends players who are suspended and, if there is a dispute, the matter is appealed to an arbitrator. Baseball has to defend its discipline and there aren’t many easier defenses than “this is how we always do it.” And no harder sells than “this S.O.B. deserves WAY more.”

Typically, a player is suspended five or six games for charging the mound. There isn’t some database of brawl suspensions that I’m privy to (if I’m wrong, please let me know), but a relatively recent example which springs to mind is Kevin Youkilis charging Rick Porcello in 2009.  It wasn’t a situation unlike last night’s: Youkilis led the league in being hit by pitches, was hit again and decided that enough was enough. He threw his helmet at Porcello and the benches cleared. Youkilis got a five-game suspension. Notably, he didn’t appeal. Oftentimes Major League Baseball will give six-game suspensions and then reduce them to five if the player appeals. You get the sense they feel five games is about right.

In 2010 Nyjer Morgan received an eight-game suspension for a brawl between the Nationals and Marlins. That on top of a seven-game suspension that was then pending for throwing a ball at a fan in the stands. At the time it was considered a surprisingly heavy suspension for merely inciting a brawl.

Also in 2010 — and maybe this is the most instructive — the Cardinals and Reds got into a bench-clearing brawl. Reds pitcher Johnny Cueto, pushed up against the backstop by the scrum — began indiscriminately kicking people. One of the people he kicked was Cardinals catcher Jason LaRue, giving him a concussion which ended his career. HIS ENTIRE CAREER.  Cueto was suspended for seven games for his “violent and aggressive actions,” per the Major League Baseball press release. As a starting pitcher, that was, in effect, a one-game suspension.

All of this is a relatively recent phenomenon, however, as brawls were treated with light discipline prior to the 1990s. A great example: a May 20, 1976 brawl between the Yankees and Red Sox. After a lot of bad blood and then a rough collision at the plate that knocked Carlton Fisk on his kiester, Yankees’ third basemen Graig Nettles body slammed Red Sox pitcher Bill Lee — who had been jawing at the Yankees in the press for years — and broke his collarbone.  Then he punched him in the eye for good measure.  Lee missed nearly two months of action.  Nettles was not suspended at all.

So, yes, looking at what happened last night — a $147 million pitcher two games into his new deal gets sidelined for a long, long time — it’s tempting to say that Quentin should get a much more significant suspension than we’d normally see.  But baseball has rarely operated that way. They tend to punish the act — the charging of the mound — not punish based on the consequences of the act. Otherwise Cueto would have been suspended much longer, yes?

My guess: Quentin gets six games. Maybe eight if Bud Selig woke up on the wrong side of the bed this morning.  But it’s inevitable, it seems, that Quentin will be playing games long, long before Greinke is even tentatively throwing off a mound on a practice field.

101 Comments (Feed for Comments)
  1. ricardorobertasq - Apr 12, 2013 at 10:45 AM

    Some of how I think has been mentioned on here already, but let me share a few things.
    1. If Quentin had done the exact same thing and no injury had occured, would we be even having this conversation? No! Just because Greinke’s collarbone was broke when another player’s may not have should not be considered when punishing someone.
    2. If this had been some other AAAA scrub reliever that this had happened to, would there be this much attention given to it?
    3. If we decide we should punish by injury, CC Sabathia should have never pitched in the playoffs last year as he broke Markakis’ wrist, causing the O’s to almost miss the playoffs and perhaps even lose to the Yanks as their offense was horrible.

    • bigharold - Apr 12, 2013 at 1:11 PM

      “1. If Quentin had done the exact same thing and no injury had occured, would we be even having this conversation? ”

      Yeah but the injury did occur and as was pointed out MLB tends to suspend players based on what is easier to defend rather than what is appropriate. Is that fair? I would think in most cases yes but not in all. Is it fair in this case, all things considered no.

      “2. If this had been some other AAAA scrub reliever that this had happened to, would there be this much attention given to it?”

      Sure it’s getting more attention but so what? It won’t really affect anything.

      ” If we decide we should punish by injury, CC Sabathia should have never pitched in the playoffs last year as he broke Markakis’ wrist,…”

      That is a false analogy. Markakis’ injury was the result of normal baseball play. Sometimes guys get hit, unfortunate but it happens. There was never any suggestion that it was intentional nor did it lead to an altercation ejection or disciplinary action. Greinke’s injury was the result of Quentin completely losing control and he would have been ejected just for that action. While baseball brawls happen, that it not normal and are considered infractions that subject all parties to possible disciplinary action.

      Unless less of course you’re Graig Nettles smacking around Bill Spaceman Lee. But, that was a different era and Lee was/is a jackass.

      • theskinsman - Apr 12, 2013 at 7:19 PM

        Nettles got off…wait for it…because he was a yankee. Just like Roidger got away with throwing a broken bat at Piazza.

      • bigharold - Apr 12, 2013 at 9:52 PM

        “Nettles got off…wait for it…because he was a yankee.”

        Just the perks of being a Yankee I guess.

    • emosnar - Apr 12, 2013 at 4:35 PM

      Nothing but a Bunch of THUGS!!!! I say suspend all of them for the season and fine their asses.. A shame on society. Smh.

  2. rythestunner - Apr 12, 2013 at 10:58 AM

    I love how they emphasize the “career-ending injury” to Jason LaRue.

    The guy was 36-year old backup catcher who had never played a full season as a starter. His career high in games played was 121 and his statistics were below mediocre.

    I understand that it sucks that his career was ended by such a careless move, but don’t act like he was an upcoming star in his prime. The guy was old and not going to be around for very long anyway.

    • tridecagon - Apr 12, 2013 at 12:12 PM

      And that matters because…?

      While 36 is pretty old in baseball terms, it’s young in terms of the real world, and I think someone kicking me in the head hard enough to prevent me from doing my job would be a pretty big deal.

  3. greysolon - Apr 12, 2013 at 12:50 PM

    Greinke’s own fault. He should have just shut his mouth and left well enough alone. 170 pounds and all mouth.

    And maybe Mattingly should be allowed to manage until Greinke comes back, as Zack was following Mattingly’s stupid orders.

    • greysolon - Apr 12, 2013 at 12:51 PM


    • bigharold - Apr 12, 2013 at 1:19 PM

      You’re assuming that he was ordered to throw at Quentin. There doesn’t seem to be much evidence of that. It was a 3-2 count. Why throw 5 pitches before you deliberately hit a guy that you’ve been ordered to hit? Why have one of ones best and highest paid pitchers on the mound to do the hitting? It couldn’t wait until a reliever was in?

      The pitch wasn’t as bad as the one Kemp got out of the way of Quentin just didn’t. I assume that it was just one that got away from Grenike. The difference is there is a lot more logic and circumstantial evidence to support my assumption.

      • greysolon - Apr 12, 2013 at 3:08 PM

        There’s a good chance that there was a standing order by Mattingly to throw at a Padre. And Greinke apparently doesn’t like Quentin, having thrown at him multiple times. Greinke then chose that moment– which would have been not so bad except he decided to mouth off afterwards. He deserves what he got.

        Here’s guessing next time he will think twice about throwing at someone. I KNOW he will think twice about jawing at someone.

      • bigharold - Apr 12, 2013 at 4:14 PM

        “There’s a good chance that there was a standing order by Mattingly to throw at a Padre.”

        That is nothing more than baseless speculation and you are still completely ignoring why he’d wait till it was a 3-2 count. You provided nothing to support your contention that Grienke deliberately threw at Quentin. And, if there was a standing order to “throw at a Parde” , .. which goes against everything I’m aware of about Mattingly, .. why not just hit him and get it over with? And, there is no way you can make a case that Mattingly deliberately risked Greinke.

        Every bit of the circumstances surrounding this incident, the score, the count, the fact that the pitcher in question is a highly valued part of the rotation, (to say nothing of what they are paying him), the fact that the pitch though high and tight wasn’t that high and tight indicates that it was just a pitch that got away from Greinke. And, side from actually hitting him, four seasons ago where do you get that Greinke has ” .. thrown at him multiple times.”?

        Quentin over reacted, was unprofessional and his actions, .. that is in no way a valid part of the game, .. got a player injured. His punishment should be significantly greater than say Youkilis’ punishment when he took a run at Porcello. Sanctions should have consequences commensurate with the with action and the results, .. intended or otherwise. And, although I wouldn’t go as far as suspending him as long as Greinke is out, a 5 -6 games is nothing. If you hold that “He deserves what he got.”, even if you ignore all the evidence to the contrary, then Quentin should be suspended as long as Greinke is on the DL, .. because that would be what he deserves.

        MLB will like give him a suspension that after all the wrangling will be in the 6 game area. In most cases that would be sufficient for charging the mound but not here. The visual evidence and circumstance prove that this was nothing more than a run of the mill HBP and the only result should have been Quentin taking first base. It got out of hand not because Greinke threw at Quentin nor because he was “jawing” at him. It got out of hand because Quentin was unprofessional. All that macho BS about Greinke knowing better the next time is just that, BS. Had Quentin really wanted to get even with him he’d have kept his mouth shut, took his base and hit the ball hard off him the next time up. That’s how real pros do it.

  4. mudhead123 - Apr 12, 2013 at 1:21 PM

    Funny Quentin gets hits all the time and decided to charge the mound when it’s a pitcher that appears to be 16.

    • richyballgame - Apr 12, 2013 at 3:45 PM

      I get what you mean,but the bad blood between Grienke and Quentin goes back to their AL Central days.

  5. jdny - Apr 12, 2013 at 1:37 PM

    Maybe it’s time for MLB to actually write a suspension “guideline” so that everyone’s on the same page. Charge the mound? 7 days. Aggravating circumstance – causes injury – double the penalty. Supplemental discipline for additional circumstances (brought the bat to the mound, third time this season, etc.). This way the players know going in they will have a week off. If you put it in the rules, the arbitrator has less options.

    These guys aren’t hockey players. they shouldn’t be charging anyone. And not that I’m condoning anything but if you stand over the plate, you’re going to get hit. Suck it up and take your base.

    • greysolon - Apr 12, 2013 at 3:10 PM

      So, free pass to the pitcher but shackle the guy who gets his head thrown at?

      Here’s an idea– You throw at my head, I break your arm.

      • jdny - Apr 12, 2013 at 4:22 PM

        You’re assuming he threw at him on purpose. Well, that would be part of the guidelines. If it’s deemed intentional, as a pitcher you’re suspended 14 days (3 starts?).

        I think there is a general consensus in MLB that you don’t intentionally throw at someone’s head. You’re more likely as a pitcher to piss off your own teammates if you were dumb enough to do that because then they become targets.

        No system is perfect but watching MLB players turn the game in WWE is a joke. If they want to fight, go play hockey.

  6. uschawk - Apr 12, 2013 at 2:17 PM

    greysolon – Apr 12, 2013 at 12:50 PM

    Greinke’s own fault. He should have just shut his mouth and left well enough alone. 170 pounds and all mouth.

    And maybe Mattingly should be allowed to manage until Greinke comes back, as Zack was following Mattingly’s stupid orders.

    Thank you greysolon for the stupidest post of the day…well done. If you think Mattingly told his pitcher to bean someone in a 1 run game then you are not smart and you definitely don’t think that Don is smart. Also when Greinke hit him and Quentin who gets beaned more then anyone starts walking to the mound what’s he supposed to do? They’re competitors, I would have been pissed to if he came at me, the ball barely skid off of his forearm. It probably didn’t even hurt the guy. Total D-bag move by Quentin and the Dodgers should throw at him everytime in their next series. If you don’t like being beaned don’t stand on top of the plate or actually try to move out of the way.

    • greysolon - Apr 12, 2013 at 3:15 PM

      He wasn’t over the plate and he couldn’t get out of the way. Greinke has hit him several times, including throwing at his head. Greinke caused this and got what he deserved. If you can’t defend yourself– don’t throw at a guy and don’t talk smack. Seems to me that Quentin took it easy on the guy.

      • bigharold - Apr 12, 2013 at 5:06 PM

        “He wasn’t over the plate and he couldn’t get out of the way.”

        No, it wasn’t over the plate but it was neither that far inside nor that high.

        Look at the video, it hit him in the arm. And, we’re talking about a guy that lead the NL last year in HBP, 17, and only had 340 PA. He lead the AL the year before with 23 HBP with only 483 PA. How is it that a guy that doesn’t even plat full time leads in HBP two years in a row? Perhaps it’s him?

  7. dcarroll73 - Apr 12, 2013 at 2:56 PM

    uschawk, I’m with you on this. For a reference point, I’ve been a Giants fan for 60+ years, and I am still on the Dodgers side of this one. Those teams are going to be playing a LOT more games this season, and there are other ways than a suspension to put this d-bag out for longer than Greinke. Hey, I grew up in the era when every time Mays hit a homer you knew he was getting thrown at next at bat. Willie could make an amazing bailout to avoid the pitch, and that usually made him rather determined in that batter’s box. If he did get hit, he was a threat to steal second. So in effect you gave him a double to punish him for hitting that homer? God, I miss watching that man play.

  8. steelcitywhitty - Apr 12, 2013 at 4:44 PM

    Solve the problem like the NBA – anyone who leaves the bench gets a suspension. Stops bench brawls completely. This way when a player charges the mound he will have to take into account that at best he will be outnumbered atleast 3 to 1 and at worst 6 to 1. These kinds of odds should further reduce mound charging.

  9. wolfmagic2012 - Apr 12, 2013 at 5:45 PM

    If you hurt someone, you get an assault charge. If you really hurt someone, it escalates: assault & battery; aggravated assault & battery…etc. To say that MLB only sanctions the act of charging the mound and not the consequence of the act is not only stupid, but unjust.

  10. jollyjoker2 - Apr 13, 2013 at 3:04 PM

    He should be kicked out for more than 10 games. My issue is he gets hit most of anyone in mlb on a per at bat basis by far. He stands on the plate. Then, when he gets hit he charges the mound? really! …What a wuss. This isn’t sportsmanship so he shouldn’t be treated that way.

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