LOS ANGELES – In the wake of Tuesday night’s street fight at Chavez Ravine, longtime fan Janet Ochoa sent the Los Angeles Dodgers an email.
“You should be ashamed of yourself for your bench-clearing brawls,” it read. “Thanks for ruining what used to be fun family time.”
Her message was given a prompt response from Brett A. Searson, Dodgers coordinator of fan services.
“While we wish what had transpired on the field last night had not occurred, it has always been a part of the game,” he wrote.
That answer is not good enough anymore. It’s been a common excuse offered by baseball executives to explain the game’s increasing violence, but it’s simply not good enough anymore.
In an era of high salaries and impossible ticket prices, athletes interrupting play to engage in bench-clearing brawls over perceived slights and ambiguous rules is selfish, dangerous and dumb. Teams should apologize to fans who have to witness it. Baseball should join other leagues in creating rules to prevent it.
You liked how the Dodgers showed teamwork and fight in pounding the Diamondbacks along their dugout rail? Then you could not complain when Wednesday’s lineup did not include sensation Yasiel Puig. He went into a rage during the fracas and was sidelined with what the team described as a sore shoulder.
On Tuesday, a cool fight! On Wednesday, Jerry Hairston Jr. batting cleanup!
You also liked how the Dodgers were “protecting” Puig from what everyone agrees was a slipped pitch from the Diamondbacks’ Ian Kennedy? Then you won’t mind that this protection cost them suspensions.
(Eight players were suspended and a dozen fines were issued on Friday by Major League Baseball.)
“It’s stupid,” Dodgers reliever J.P. Howell said Wednesday. “Can we just play ball?”
In earlier times, a hot kid like Puig would expect to be dusted back, and if the ball veered into his face, it was bad luck, not evil intentions. His teammates wouldn’t have ordered retaliation, but welcomed him to the big leagues.
If a hitter and a pitcher have a problem, then the two men should fight and everyone else who dares interrupt should be suspended for a week. That would stop the brawling like, right now.
“This is not something we should sit here and say we’re proud of,” said Dodgers manager Don Mattingly. “I’m sure the rules are eventually going to change, I’m sure (baseball officials) don’t want to see this.”
Yet Mattingly also warned that there is more bad blood here yet to be spilled.
“Obviously, anything like that is going to leave a lot of tastes in people’s mouths,” said Mattingly. “If you really want to be technical about it, in baseball terms, it really shouldn’t be over.”
Please. In common-sense terms, it never should have started.